BURNLEY Council is considering changes to the way it charges council tax on long-term empty properties to encourage owners to bring them back into use.

A report to the council's executive, which meets on Tuesday, recommends the premiums charged on long-term vacant houses - over and above the usual rate - should be increased.

It is proposed from April 2020 properties empty for more than five years should pay a 200 per cent premium ie three times the normal council tax charge.

Based on current figures 180 properties would be affected.

From April 2021 houses empty for more than 10 years should pay a 300 per cent premium ie four times the usual rate, with 46 properties potentially affected.

The council currently charges a 100 per cent premium on properties that have been empty and unfurnished for more than two years.

Cllr Margaret Lishman, the council's executive member for resources and performance management, said: "These proposals are part of wider moves to reduce the number of long-term empty properties across our borough.

"In some cases these attract vandalism and other anti-social behaviour and bring down the area around them, causing problems for neighbours and the wider community.

"We want to encourage owners to bring these long-term vacant houses back into use and this is just another tool to help achieve that aim. It's not about generating revenue."

Any changes would have to go to a meeting of the full council for final approval.

Earlier this year, Hyndburn councillors followed their Blackburn counterparts' lead and increased council tax premiums for the borough’s long term empty homes.

Council bosses said Hyndburn has historically suffered from a higher than normal percentage of empty properties, with many left vacant for long periods and blight their neighbourhoods.

The council said it has attempted to address the number of empty properties for a considerable time as part of its efforts to regenerate Hyndburn and provide better places to live.

The government initially introduced a premium on council tax in 2013 for long term empty properties as a means of encouraging their occupation.