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Flood-hit properties given tax relief amid fresh weather warnings

Woman inside flooded home in Carlisle Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Now that most of the water has subsided, homeowners in Carlisle are beginning to assess the damage

Some 5,000 homes and businesses hit by floods in Cumbria and Lancashire are to be given tax relief, as new Met Office warnings of rain are put in place.

People will not have to pay council tax or business rates until they are back in their properties.

Storm Desmond hit northern England, parts of Northern Ireland, north Wales and southern Scotland at the weekend.

Most power has been restored, but emergency services remain on high alert due to the threat of more bad weather.

One severe flood warning, indicating danger to life, remains in place - for the River Wyre in Lancashire - and the Met Office has a yellow "be aware" warning in place for parts of northern England and much of Scotland on Wednesday and Thursday.

Rain is forecast to become persistent and heavy at times over high ground, accompanied by winds of up to 60mph, and there are fears of further flooding and disruption to transport.

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The decision on tax relief was taken at a meeting of the Cobra emergency committee, chaired by Communities Secretary Greg Clark.

"If you have to move out of your home or your business is disturbed you won't have to pay business rates or council tax until back trading or back in your home," he said.

Mr Clark said he had met insurers on Tuesday morning and received a "cast iron guarantee that they stand ready and have the capacity to respond straight away to their customers".

Record-breaking amounts of rain fell in Cumbria - the worst-hit county - prompting it to declare a major incident. Honister saw 341mm (13.44in) of rain fall in the 24 hours from 18:30 on Friday, a UK record.

In other developments:

There are still about 1,000 homes without power in Cumbria and engineers are working to reconnect them as soon as possible.

On Monday, as many as 42,000 homes in Lancaster lost power for a second time following flood damage at a substation.

Sixty-three generators are now being used to power 18,000 homes in the city in an effort to relieve the load on the substation.

Electricity North West is urging people to use power sparingly and warning that managed power cuts may be needed later if demand exceeds the capacity.

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Environment Agency map of flood-risk areas

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The flood waters destroyed large amounts of stock, but many shops are battling to reopen in time to take advantage of Christmas trade
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Many homes and properties in the region were affected by previous floods in 2005 and 2009
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Surging rivers destroyed a number of road and footbridges, including this one in Keswick

The government has faced criticism because Cumbria's multimillion-pound flood defences - built following floods in 2005 - failed to keep the deluge from people's homes.

There have been demands - including from the Conservative chairman of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs select committee - for more money to be spent on defences in the future.

But ministers have insisted the existing defences did reduce the impact of the storm and stressed the "unprecedented" level of rain that fell.

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron, meanwhile, has said ministers must back up their commitment to the so-called Northern Powerhouse by providing the funds needed to repair flood damage.

David Cameron visited the region on Monday and promised the government would fully reimburse councils for the costs of dealing with it.

A Just Giving appeal for those affected by the flooding in Cumbria has so far raised more than £500,000.

In Cumbria, police said a man's body had been recovered from a river. The death of the 78-year-old, who lived in the Staveley area, has been referred to the coroner.

And the body of a 70-year-old man from County Tyrone, Northern Ireland, was found on a road in the Republic of Ireland.

Cumbria Police said there has been "some isolated incidents" of flooded properties being targeted by "a couple of opportunistic individuals", including the theft of tools worth £3,000 taken from a premises in Edenhall, Penrith.

Live flood warnings from the Environment Agency and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency.

Note: the Scottish Environment Protection Agency display their flood alert data differently to the Environment Agency and Natural Resources Wales. While the Environment Agency and Natural Resources Wales highlights individual rivers only, in Scotland the entire region is coloured to indicate the level of alert. This map and flood alert data are supplied to the BBC by third parties. The BBC is not responsible for its accuracy and you use it at your own risk.

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