THERE are more than 8,000 empty homes across south Hampshire, new figures have revealed, with numbers in Winchester being higher than 10 years ago.

Homeless charity bosses voiced their frustration after the figures showed that there are 8,501 empty homes across Southampton, Eastleigh, the New Forest, Fareham, Test Valley and Winchester.

The data published by the Press Association and released by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government showed that of the 2,608 empty homes in Southampton, 618 have been empty for more than six months.

The figures also showed that when the last count was taken in October last year, there were 1,228 empty homes in Winchester, 62 more than in 2008.

Trevor Pickup, chief executive at The Society of St James, which helps homeless people across Hampshire, said the figures are frustrating.

He added: “I don’t know why there are so many empty homes but it’s a shame. It makes me feel upset. If we could bring more houses into use it would have an impact on the houses crisis we have nationally and it would help reduce the numbers sleeping rough.”

Southampton Itchen MP Royston Smith said: “The government are investing billions of pounds in housing and homes. Last year 217,000 new homes were built and that will be 300,000 by the mid-2020s.

“By 2020 we will have delivered over one million new homes. Southampton City Council has dragged its heels on house building and abandoned the successful Estates Regeneration programme.”