HALTON has more empty homes than the national average, according to studies of the 2001 census.
There are 2,146 vacant homes in the borough and 74 second or holiday homes, bringing the total number of unused houses to 4.4%, with the national average being just 4%.
Across the UK as a whole, there are more than 841,000 vacant homes and 185,000 second homes - a total of more than 1m homes with no residents.
In contrast, Warrington has the lowest percentage of empty homes in the North West, with just 2.4% of houses being vacant.
The figures are taken from a University of Durham analysis of the 2001 census and have raised concerns within the GMB union, which has been looking at the serious problems of rising house prices and homelessness.
Paul Kenny, senior GMB official and member of the TUC General Council, said: 'Housing has moved up the political agenda as house prices in many parts of the country have risen beyond the reach of workers earning average or below-average wages.
'Serious consideration needs to be given to levying a tax on empty properties.
'There is a tax point at which the owners would find a use for these homes, rather than leaving them empty.'