Second homes tax break may go

Owners of second homes may lose council tax discounts, under plans to be announced by Eric Pickles, the Communities Secretary, today.

Local authorities may also be given the power to scrap discounts of up to 100 per cent enjoyed by the owners of empty properties.

Mr Pickles, who is announcing a consultation on the plans, will review rules under which tax inspectors treat "granny flats" as distinct properties that attract separate council tax bills.

Councils will also be encouraged to offer discounts to householders who pay bills online.

The Government believes the reforms, if implemented, will lead to a small reduction in council tax bills for most people. Mr Pickles suggested the bill for a Band D property – £1,196 on average this year – could fall by £20. PA