Great Britain has almost 13,000 homes that have been empty for more than a decade, according to latest statistics.

Figures released to the Liberal Democrats under Freedom of Information laws show 12,889 properties that have been vacant for at least 10 years.

Former Lib Dem leader Tim Farron said the situation was a “national emergency”, the Evening Standard reports.

The party is pushing for legislation that allows local authorities to raise council tax by up to 500 per cent on long-term empty properties. It proposes that the cash raised should be used to build new homes or to boost local services.

The report coincides with research from the charity Shelter that found that 127,000 children in England were homeless over the Christmas period.

Mr Farron said: “This housing crisis is a national emergency. Communities up and down the country are being torn apart because affluent owners are treating these properties as financial assets.

“Instead, these homes could be turned into affordable places to live for some of the most vulnerable people in our society.

“As soon as Parliament returns, Liberal Democrats will be banging on the Government’s door to demand councils are given the powers and resources we set out in our manifesto to bring empty homes back into use.”

According to the figures released to the Lib Dems, 46,964 Bhomes have been empty for five years or more while 313,792 have been empty for more than six months.