Almost 1,500 homes in Stroud are not in use – enough to give 30 homes to each person in the district that needs one.

Analysis of government data undertaken by the campaign group Action on Empty Homes reveals that 1,404 homes were not being used as of October last year.

The analysis included all council tax-eligible houses in the district and of those empty, 866 were long-term vacancies, unoccupied for at least six months, and 538 were second homes.

Government data reveals that as of September, 45 Stroud individuals and families are sleeping in temporary accommodation - which accommodates people who pass certain homelessness tests - including 17 children.

“It can’t be right that in the last four years we have seen an escalating housing crisis while the number of long-term empty homes keeps rising,” said Action on Empty Homes Director Will McMahon.

"There are over 100,000 children languishing in overcrowded and temporary accommodation at a time when we know that overcrowded housing is being linked to the spread of the coronavirus and to higher mortality.

"It will be impossible to ‘build back better’ if we keep letting our housing crisis get worse."

In England, the average number of empty homes is one in 47, but in Stroud the number is one in every 39.

In total, there are 531,000 properties in the UK without residents, according to the campaign group.

Housing charity Shelter said it is frustrating to see so many empty properties, but a new generation of social homes is needed to solve the problem.

Chief executive Polly Neate said: "Tackling these empty homes is not an adequate alternative to building more genuinely affordable housing.

"We could fill every one of these properties and we still wouldn’t have solved the chronic housing shortage we face."

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Housing said: “We have given councils powers and strong incentives to tackle empty homes, including the power to increase council tax by up to 300% on these properties, and take over the management of homes that have been empty for a long period.

“They also receive the same New Homes Bonus for bringing an empty home back into use as for building a new one.”

Stroud District Council charge a council tax premium on properties which are empty long-term. The premium rose to between 100 to 300 per cent in 2020 depending on how long the property is empty.

Between 2014 and 2019 the council built 239 houses and plans to build 111 more.

A Stroud District Council spokesperson said: “We employ an empty property officer, we have an active empty property strategy and we regularly write to the owners of all empty homes to make them aware of the help on offer.

“The Council offers help and advice to owners of empty properties and will assist owners in bringing the property back into use.

“We also offer a loan scheme to bring unused properties back into use and increase the housing supply. The Empty Homes Loan is interest-free loan which aims to help owners of empty properties return them back into use for affordable rented housing.

The Stroud District Council spokesperson said that properties they manage are only ever held empty if they are under inspection, due for redevelopment, awaiting major repairs or being prepared for letting.