Hundreds of thousands of homes were left vacant across England for over six months last year as levels of homelessness reached record levels in parts of the country.

The latest figures, published by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, showed that the number of empty number of empty houses is at its highest in six years, having increased by 5.3 per cent between 2017 to 2018.

In October 2012, the overall number of vacant dwellings stood at 254,059. This figure fell consistently each year until October 2018, when it hit 216,186.

In Portsmouth the number of empty houses rose dramatically by over 50 per cent between 2017 and 2018, hitting 939.

Data from November 2018 revealed that around 320,000 people in the UK were known to be sleeping on the streets or living in temporary accommodation.

The figures from the charity Shelter, revealed that the number of homeless people in the UK had risen by a rate of over 1,000 a month.

In London, homelessness hit record highs at the end of 2018, with almost 170,000 people, or one in 52, left without a place to call home.

Rates of homelessness dropped substantially between the late 1990s and 2010, but have been rising since the Conservatives came into power, despite repeated promises from ministers to reduce rough sleeping and build more affordable homes.

The total number of people sleeping rough increased by 13,000 from 2017 to 2018, according to Shelter.