UK house prices surged at their fastest annual rate in almost three years in September and remained close to an all-time high recorded the previous month, official figures show.

Prices rose by 3.8% year-on-year to reach £245,000 sterling on average, marking a slight decrease on the peak of £246,000 recorded in August, according to the Office for National Statistics.

The annual increase is the highest seen since October 2010 and comes amid calls for the UK government to ease the upward pressure on house prices being fuelled by its new Help to Buy scheme by building more homes to meet demand. 

The figures were released as the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) called for urgent action to address the supply of homes in Britain.

The group said that supply is "nowhere near" that which is needed to cope with "soaring" demand from buyers.

RICS said the number of surveyors reporting house prices lifting across the country has surged to an 11-year high as the government's new Help to Buy scheme fuels "soaring" demand from buyers.

The ONS said that on a seasonally-adjusted basis, UK house prices were unchanged  between August and September.

House prices in London have soared by 9.4% over the year to reach £434,000 typically. The year-on-year increase reflected growth of 4.2% in England, where typical prices reached £255,000, and 1.4% in Wales, where prices were £163,000 on average.

Prices in England have fallen slightly from record levels seen the previous month but are still 0.8% higher than their previous 2008 peak, the ONS said.

The rises were offset by annual falls of 1.1% in Scotland, where typical prices fell to £181,000 and 1.5% in Northern Ireland, where the average price edged down to £127,000.

Prices in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are still well below the peaks seen in the property boom. Northern Ireland has seen the sharpest decline and prices are still at 50% below their previous peak.

The ONS figures also show that first-time buyers face having to pay around 5.3% more for a property than they did a year ago. The typical price paid by a first-time buyer in September was £184,000.

Prices of properties bought by home movers have risen at a slower pace of 3.2%, with the typical price paid by this sector standing at £281,000.