Thousands of homes have been empty for more than a decadeCredit:id each month. Photographer: More than 11,000 homes across the country have been lying empty for longer than a decade, figures show.The data, collected from freedom of information requests to local authorities also showed that 60,000 properties had been empty for two years or more while just one in 13 councils make use of powers that would allow them to take over properties that have been empty for at least six months.Vince Cable, leader of the Liberal Democrats, said such properties should be used to provide homes for some of the most vulnerable in society and called for an urgent government review of the system.“At a time when the homelessness crisis is worsening and more and more people are sleeping out in the cold on our streets, it is a national scandal that thousands of homes across the country are sitting empty,” he said.The areas that responded with the largest number of homes empty for six months or more were Durham with 6,500, Leeds with 5,724, Bradford with 4,144, Cornwall with 3,273 and Liverpool with 3,093.An analysis of government figures last winter showed that the number of empty homes in the UK had nearly doubled in 20 years, with more than one million homes above those which are required for the number of households in the UK. Government data suggests that more than 200,000 homes in England with a total value of £43bn were empty for at least six months in 2016 but information on longer-term vacant properties is not routinely published. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. Only 19 of the 247 councils in England and Wales said they had made use of empty dwelling management orders (EDMO) in the past five years and of these, only six had used one in the past year.The Liberal Democrats, who conducted the research, called for reform of EDMOs and tougher powers for local councils to be able to bring long-term empty homes back into use.Mr Cable told the Guardian: “Councils need to be given the powers and resources to bring empty homes back into use. This must form part of a wider package to tackle the housing crisis, including building more homes on unused public sector land and clamping down on land-banking.”In total, councils returned about 23,000 empty homes back into use, including through direct action and the work of empty home teams.