COUNCILLORS have welcomed the news that local authorities will be given new powers to hike council tax on unused second homes.

Central Government is set to give councils the power to double the tax on second homes that have not been used in 70 days or more.

The move was announced this week in the Queen’s Speech, the Conservative Government sees it as a vehicle to keep council tax low for residents during the cost of living crisis.

Cumbria County Council and Allerdale Borough Council have both written to the Government recently, calling for action on the soaring number of holiday lets and second homes in the Lake District.

Councillors say that hospitality hotspots encourage the growth in holiday lets and second homes, which is eroding the number of properties available for those looking to get a foot on the housing ladder.

Neil Hughes, Liberal Democrat county council member for Eden Lakes welcomed the news that councils will be given more power to tax empty second homes.

He said: “They should have done it years ago. It is an issue across rural Cumbria.”

Tim Farron, MP for Westmorland & Lonsdale, has been campaigning for enforcement of the second homes and holiday let rise for a number of years.

Cllr Hughes said: “They need to do so much more, they need to adjust the planning system so it’s not so easy to switch from a residential home to a holiday let.”

Councillors agree that communities need holiday lets and second homes in their communities but only in good measure.

Labour councillor for Keswick Tony Lywood said that the council tax hike is progress.

“I would like to see second homes have to pay four or five times council tax. I would also like to see holiday homes brought back into council tax.

“What we’ve got to do is try and use fiscal and economic methods to disincentivise people from holiday lets.”

Cllr Lywood gained cross party support for a motion on Thursday April 28 which called on the county council to write to the Government about the issue.