A new survey has for the first time estimated the national cost of vandal attacks on empty social housing.

A bill of more than £30m a year faces the country's top 52 local authority void property managers for attacks on their empty houses, says the survey for Leicester University by Orbis Property Protection.

Vandalism, which is reckoned to inflict £21.3m worth of damage, makes up the biggest proportion of the spending. Arson accounts for £4.5m, while theft is though to be responsible for the remaining £4.2m.

When the figures are broken down to show the average cost for each vandalised empty house, the biggest single bill is for arson at £11,000, with vandalism costing £4,600 and theft £635.

An Orbis spokesman said: "So far, crime reports on social housing have barely touched empty houses and have largely failed to distinguish between the types of violation they endure."