More than 1,500 homes in Cotswold are sitting empty as councils face the huge task of finding safe places for the homeless to stay during the coronavirus lockdown.

The Local Government Association has raised concerns about the number of properties lying vacant across the country at a time of chronic shortage, after the Government gave councils a deadline to house people for the duration of the outbreak.

Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government figures show that 1,505 homes in Cotswold were empty at the most recent count in October – the highest number since comparable records began in 2004.

Of those, 661 were classed as long-term vacancies, meaning they had been unoccupied for at least six months.

The number of vacant dwellings in the area was significantly higher than a year previously, when there were 1,259.

​And there were far more than the 1,052 counted in 2004, the earliest year with comparable data.

Housing minister Luke Hall wrote to councils last month, giving them a deadline of March 29 to ensure all “rough sleepers and other vulnerable homeless” were housed in appropriate accommodation.