A CAMPAIGN group has argued the thousands of empty houses across the country, including the hundreds in Maldon, should be used to help solve the national housing crisis

Action on Empty Homes’ analysis of Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government figures shows 586 homes in Maldon were not being used as of October, up from 537 the year before.

Of these, 326 were long-term vacancies, unoccupied for at least six months, and 260 were second homes.

This means one in every 49 homes in Maldon were out of use – though this was below the average of one in 47 across England.

Action on Empty Homes said that the 531,000 properties across England without residents should instead offer "vitally needed housing" to the homeless.

Director Will McMahon said: “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.

"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."

Separate figures from the Government body show the number of households in temporary accommodation in Maldon is rising.

There were 10 households without their own homes as of September, including 13 children, which was up from six in September 2019.

A further 400,000 vacant homes across England had been used within the last six months, including 343 in Maldon.

A Government spokesman said: “We have given councils powers and strong incentives to tackle empty homes, including the power to increase council tax by up to 300p per cent 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.”