A charity has called on the government to prioritise getting empty homes back into use.

According to the Empty Homes Agency, there is "widespread recognition" among the main political parties of the need to build more homes.

However, chief executive Helen Williams believes they are failing to catch up with public opinion when it comes to getting people into existing properties that are currently standing empty.

Indeed, a survey by the Empty Homes Agency and Halifax has revealed that 78 per cent of people in the UK believes the issue of empty homes need to be placed further up the agenda at government level.

Meanwhile, 74 per cent of those polled said their local authority should step up efforts to address the problem of residential properties standing unoccupied.

This is partly because more than one in three respondents regard empty homes as a blight on their local area.

Ms Williams also noted that if politicians make getting empty homes back into use a priority, young people and others who are struggling to get the homes they need will be more likely to find somewhere to live "at a price they can afford".

The survey went on to highlight a lack of awareness among people in England about the true extent of the problem of homes standing vacant.

According to the Empty Homes Agency, the figure currently exceeds 610,000. However, survey respondents estimated that the figure is around 377,000.

The organisation has called on whoever wins the 2015 general election to implement a plan to deal with the issue of unoccupied houses within the first 12 months of the next parliament.