Council tax discounts on second homes will be slashed in some areas under changes announced by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister.
The changes could raise an estimated extra £65 million nationally for councils to invest directly in local services, including the provision of affordable housing.
The government proposes to give councils in England the choice to apply council tax discounts of between 10% and 50% for second homes. Currently second homeowners have an automatic entitlement to a 50% discount.
Councils will also be able to end discounts for long term empty property completely.
Nick Raynsford local government minister, says: “We are aware of the problems in both rural and urban areas, where there are many second homes and properties that are left empty for a long time.
“In many areas, second homeowners can contribute strongly to communities. However, whether homeowners occupy a property only at weekends or for a few weeks in the summer or all year round, they still place a demand on local services.
“We believe it is only right that second homeowners pay a fair contribution to these costs. Indeed the fact that second homeowners currently enjoy a 50% discount is a cause of resentment in several areas.”
He adds: “High demand for second homes may affect property prices, forcing local people to look for housing elsewhere. We are especially concerned about the impact this trend may have for local people on low incomes and key workers who are vital to the long-term sustainability of our communities.”
The government will include the necessary provisions in its forthcoming local government bill.