Homeowners with empty properties or second homes will lose their council tax discounts and exemptions from April.

Harrow Borough Council is to implement a new Council Tax Reduction Scheme which, it hopes, will raise more than £1.1million a year.

The council says that the extra money will be used to pay for priority services, such as meals on wheels.

Also, 20 per cent of the additional revenue will be allocated to the Fire and Police Authorities.

Hardest hit will be owners of properties that have been empty for more than two years.

From April they will be charged 150 per cent council tax.

The council hopes that this measure will mean that empty houses are brought back into use.

Harrow Council’s portfolio holder for finance, Councillor Sachin Shah, said: “More than £60 million will be cut from Harrow Council's budget as a result of the government's austerity programme.

“The additional money collected will be used to ensure the council continues to support Harrow’s most vulnerable residents. 

“It will help close the gap left by the government’s budget cuts and provide much needed funds to pay for social service provision across the borough.

“In tough times it is right that those with the broadest shoulders pay the biggest burden. 

“That’s why it’s right that we no longer give people a subsidy, paid for by other tax payers, to have a second home.

“By charging 150 per cent council tax on long term empty homes, it will encourage landlords to bring their property back in to use.

“Long term empty properties often bring with them crime with boarded up windows and over grown gardens. It is about time we acted to stop this.”