The Isle of Wight has one of the highest rates of empty houses in England — including more than 3,000 second homes.

One in 20 homes on the Island are out of use, either as empty or second homes.

Campaigners, Action on Empty Homes, analysed Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) figures, and found 3,564 homes on the Isle of Wight were not being used as of October, although this is down from 3,726 the year before.

Of these, 510 were long-term vacancies, unoccupied for at least six months, and 3,054 were second homes.

Separate figures from MHCLG show there were 186 households on the Isle of Wight in temporary accommodation as of September, including 238 children.

A further 802 vacant homes had been used within the last six months.

An MHCLG spokesman said: “We have given councils powers and strong incentives to tackle empty homes, including the power to increase council tax by up to 300 per cent on these properties, and take over the management of homes that have been empty for a long period.

“They also receive the same New Homes Bonus for bringing an empty home back into use as for building a new one.”

A spokesperson for the Isle of Wight Council said: "We take the issue of empty homes seriously, as part of our commitment to solving the Island's housing shortage.

"In 2019 an Empty Property Strategy was adopted, which aims to bring long term empty properties back into use to increase the supply of quality and affordable homes for Island residents and reduce the impact of empty properties on local communities.

"Empty homes and second homes are not the same thing, nor is this directly connected to families in temporary accommodation."

The IW Council defines long-term empty homes as homes empty for two years or more — of which there are 131.

They say there has been a steady decline in numbers over the last two years, many as a result of intervention by the council.

They said the majority of the 510 properties recorded as empty for six months do not need intervention and are re-occupied under normal conditions.

It also said the Island is better than the national average, going by data provided by The Empty Homes Network, which ranked the IW as 55 out of 328 councils.

Richard Quigley, of Island Labour, said: "The right to secure housing should be a basic human right. I don’t think many people would disagree with that sentiment.

"The figures on the amount of second homes here on the Island don’t do anything to make that aim a reality for hard working families that can’t afford a first home.

"The problem is, there is nothing to stop people with enough money buying as many “homes” as they like.

"Houses that are left empty do very little for the communities they are based in. It could be argued they actually diminish an area.

"Another problem, is even if by some miracle, all these empty properties were suddenly available to buy or rent, they would be out of reach of the average Island resident.

"The average house price here is 9.5 times the average Island income, average rent takes up 32 per cent of average Islanders pre-tax income.

"So the real problem is the lack of truly affordable housing and council built and owned homes. Our council have failed badly on the building of homes. The lack of a coherent strategy is costing the Island dear.

"We should be building council houses available at affordable rents. It would also mean they have emergency accommodation available for the 186 families that require it."

Island MP Bob Seely said: “I support the council using its compulsory purchase powers more, and if need be getting more powers to ensure houses are used.

“The council is looking at brownfield sites for the construction of new homes and there may also be opportunities to convert existing properties in our town centres into affordable accommodation.

“I know the council works hard to pull empty properties back into use and I fully support them in continuing this important work."