More than 1,500 homes in Wycombe are sitting empty, despite a national housing crisis which has left thousands of families homeless.

And newly released figures from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government show that hundreds of properties have been left unoccupied for at least six months.

In October last year, when the most recent count was taken, there were 1,567 vacant homes in Wycombe - one in every 46 houses in the area.

Of those, 482 were classed as long-term vacancies, meaning that they had been unoccupied for at least six months.

The problem of empty homes in Wycombe has worsened in recent years. In 2008, despite the number of vacant properties peaking nationwide, there were just 1,534 in the area.

There were 867 vacant homes in South Bucks - one in every 33 houses in the area - and 1,164 empty homes in Chiltern - one in every 34 houses in the area. 

Across England, there were more than 600,000 vacant properties last October, over a third of which were long-term vacancies.

Polly Neate, chief executive of housing charity Shelter, said that making sure properties were occupied was just part of the answer to the country's housing shortage.

She said: "In the midst of a homelessness crisis it is of course frustrating to see houses left empty. But the fact is that even if we filled every one of these, there still wouldn't be nearly enough homes to solve the problem.

"Decades of failure to build has left us in the lurch - the Government must now get on and build a new generation of social homes where people need them most."

Figures show that 645 new homes were built in Wycombe last year. In total, 961 new homes were created, including those converted from office blocks or houses split into flats.

In South Bucks, 450 new homes were built last year and a total of 606 new homes were created.

The figure for Chiltern is 148 new homes, with 250 new homes created from offices or houses.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said: "The number of long-term vacant dwellings in England is still lower than when records began, but we are determined to bring this figure down.

"That is why we are equipping councils with tools they need to tackle the issue head on, such as bringing forward legislation that will allow them to double the rate of council tax on those homes left empty for two years or longer."