Fewer than half the number of new homes needed were built last year in the south west according to the National Housing Federation and homelessness charity Crisis.

The groups say the 20,000 houses built don't approach the 42,000 needed - and 15,000 of those should be "affordable" homes.

Nikki Knowles of the federation said: “This is the key reason why house prices in the South West have hit such astronomical levels - there are far too few homes being built, particularly truly affordable homes – we must increase the number being built if we are serious about solving the housing crisis.

“The Government has promised more money for affordable housing, but there is still more to do to ensure the South West gets the homes it needs. Ministers should take steps to address the biggest challenge that housing associations and others face: the high cost of land. We need to change the law to make sure that local communities see more of the benefit of housing development. Access to land is the one of the biggest barriers to building the 42,000 homes we need in the region every year.“The housing crisis is the most serious issue facing the South West, and we must act now to solve it – doing nothing is no longer an option.”

Jon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis, said: “It’s heartbreaking that in this winter weather thousands of people across the South West have to sleep on our streets, stay in tents, live in hostels, and experience other forms of homelessness. Many people are stuck in these terrible and often dangerous situations simply because there isn't enough affordable housing, particularly social housing.

“Christmas is around the corner, and this can be a particularly hard time for homeless people. While others are celebrating with family and friends, many homeless people face a daily struggle just to stay safe, escape the cold, and feel connected to others. This is all the worse when there are proven solutions that can end homelessness for good.

"This is can't go on - the government must build housing that people who are homeless or on low incomes can afford and access, because we all deserve a safe place to call home."

Swindon Council is trying it's best to provide sufficient housing land it said

Coun Gary Sumner, the cabinet member for strategic planning, said: “Swindon, like many councils in the South-West, is grappling with the issue of providing the housing the country needs but in a way that is environmentally sensitive and not to the detriment of existing residents.

“This often means difficult decisions have to be made. The overall amount of housing required needs substantial infrastructure to support it which is why the Council is working hard to secure government funding and making the developers pay their fair share on sites such as the New Eastern villages.

“At present on sites of 15 or more homes we require at least 30 per cent of the homes to be affordable. However, developers can use the economic viability argument to reduce the level of contributions. Ultimately, house-builders build the houses.”