Around 5,000 businesses and homes in Cumbria and Lancashire affected by the floods caused by Storm Desmond will be given tax relief, the government has announced.

Storm Desmond hit parts of north west England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and north Wales over the weekend, with the Met Office forecasting more heavy rainfall.

Thousands were left with their homes and businesses flooded, and many without power.

Following a meeting of the government's emergency committee, Cobra, communities secretary Greg Clark said residents and business owners would not have to pay council tax or business rates until they were able to return to their premises.

"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 also said that, following a meeting with insurers, he was given a "cast iron guarantee that they [insurers] stand ready and have the capacity to respond straight away to their customers".

Damian Waters, north west director of business lobby group the CBI, said: "This is a helpful intervention from the government for families and businesses forced out of their properties by Storm Desmon. With the potential cost of flood damage estimated to cost hundreds of millions of pounds, it is critical that they receive clear advice on how they can access this welcome tax relief quickly.

"Local communities, businesses and emergency services continue to show great resilience and we need to see the Environment Agency working with infrastructure providers as they fight to restore power and utilities.

"These floods underline once again why we must continue to invest in our flood defences and review existing preparations for potential events like this in the future. The government must continue to drive forward the delivery of the 1,400 flood alleviation projects already pledged."