WESTMORLAND and Lonsdale MP Tim Farron has applauded Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg for suggesting a new tax should be imposed on second home owners.

The Deputy Prime Minister hinted a proposal for council tax surcharges on holiday homes could be included in the party’s 2015 election manifesto.

Speaking at his monthly press conference, Mr Clegg said second home owners were ‘gutting’ rural communities, leaving young people unable to buy houses.

According to Mr Farron, who is Lib Dem president, South Lakeland 'has the worst level of second home ownership in England'.

He said any money raised by a new tax would be ‘ring-fenced’ so it could be used for local communities affected the prevalence of holiday homes.

“We don’t want to declare war on second homeowners - people are entitled to buy these homes,” he said. “But what we want to do is to make sure they compensate communities that suffer because there are too many second homes.”

Mr Farron said holiday cottages let to the public would not be affected by the proposal.

“The problem in South Lakes is we have some villages, like Elterwater, where large majority of houses are second homes. When you get more than ten or 20 per cent of properties in a community owned as second homes it begins to have a damaging effect, leading to the closure of local services such as schools, post offices and pubs.”