THE number of homes standing empty in South Lakeland has fallen following the introduction of new charges - according to a council report.

South Lakeland District Council brought in a fee for property owners last April which meant they had to pay 50 per cent of council tax even if the house was empty.

Now a report says the number of homes empty for two years or more has fallen by 178 – from 545 when the charge came in to 367 in October.

More than 320 owners of properties were now paying the 50 per cent premium, bringing an extra £250,000 in revenue to the council.

SLDC also scrapped a 10 per cent discount that second home owners could claim so that they had to pay the full rate of council tax – that measure brought in an estimated £600,000, says the report.

A 50 per cent council tax discount for those with homes in the area vacant for six months or more was also discontinued and has brought in a further £700,000.