Hyndburn Council is to increase the level of its premium rate of council tax on long-term empty homes.

The move is aimed at cutting the number of vacant properties.

It also plans to double the council tax on second homes.

A report to Hyndburn Council's cabinet meeting tomorrow from its deputy leader and finance boss, Cllr Peter Britcliffe, proposes to dramatically increase the extra council tax paid on empty properties in the borough.

Currently the owners pay half the normal council tax on homes which have been vacant for up to six months, the full rate for those empty for six months to a year, and 150 per cent for those empty for more than a year.

From April 1 the new rates will be 50 per cent of normal liability for properties empty for up to six months, 100 per cent for those vacant for six months to a year, 200 per cent of normal liability for properties empty for one to five years, 300 per cent on homes empty for five to 10 years, and 400 per cent of the normal council tax liability for properties empty for more than 10 years.

Owners of properties being actively marketed for sale or rent can apply to have the premium rate reduced to normal council tax liability.

From April 1, 2025, there will be a new council tax rate of normal liability on second homes in Hyndburn, of which there are currently 20.

Cllr Britcliffe's report says: "This seeks to further the council’s strategy to improve its housing stock and the regeneration of Hyndburn by adopting new government provisions on premium rates of council tax for properties that are left vacant for over one year.

"The national problem of a housing shortage and many existing properties that are empty is well documented.

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

"There are still over 800 empty properties that remain in Hyndburn that cause damage to our housing market and neighbourhoods.

"It is the service’s intention to write to all owners of empty properties, and second homes to inform them of the increased premiums allowing them the opportunity to sell or occupy any empty properties they may have prior to any further premiums being applied.

"The implementation of council tax premiums is intended to have a financial impact on owners of empty properties in order to incentivise occupation.

"The amount collected from council tax is likely to increase as a result."