£60 MILLION TO TACKLE 'SECOND HOMES' PROBLEMS IN ENGLAND

On Friday 23 December 2016, BBC News on-line reported on a Communities & Local Government press release  announcing that it was setting up a new annual £60 million fund to counteract the all-time high in second-home ownership which is crowding out first-time buyers and artificially raising house prices.

60 Million Boost for Communities Affected by Second Home Ownership:
Communities & Local Government Press Release Friday 23 December 2016

Community-led housing will be given a further boost today (23 December 2016) from a new annual £60 million fund which will help almost 150 councils tackle the problem of high levels of second homeownership in their communities.

The Community Housing Fund will put local groups in the driving seat and help them deliver affordable housing aimed at first-time buyers in response to the problem second homes can cause in reducing supply.

One third of the funding - almost £20 million - will be allocated directly to local authorities in the South West as this is the most popular region for second homes in England. It accounts for 21% of all second homeownership.

Second home ownership in England is at an all-time high and is crowding out first time buyers and causing a shortage of available properties. Often second homes stand empty for a large proportion of the time which can also affect community cohesion, affect the demographics of an area and distort local housing markets. ...

The funding will be targeted at the community-led housing sector and distributed to groups via local councils who know their area’s needs best.

Allocating the funding to these housing organisations will put communities centre stage in deciding what type of housing is most needed. It will also offer an income stream to community organisations, in turn allowing them to reinvest in more housing or in other activities or services which will benefit their area. ...

The first year of funding will be used to build capacity within local groups such as improving technical skills, setting up support hubs to offer advice, business planning and providing staff to review local housing needs.

Funding the following year must then be used to deliver housing on the ground for local people.

Local authorities will work closely with community-led housing groups and other stakeholders - such as the Community Land Trusts network or the Home and Communities Agency - throughout to ensure the right tools are in place to ensure efficient delivery of new houses in subsequent years.

Community-led housing has many benefits. Planning applications from this sector are currently approved more often than other applications. Local concerns about building new homes can be allayed more easily because of local involvement from the start.

The groups can also be an important link between the community and local authorities, having credibility among residents and directly representing the needs of the community.

The full press release is available at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/60-million-boost-for-communities-affected-by-second-homeownership 

The East Midlands is due to receive £2,691,608 from this fund. However, according to the list of Local Authorities who will receive grants from this fund, Nottingham City Council is not one of these.

National HMO Lobby Comment:

Richard Tyler of the National HMO Lobby observes that 'This fund well be welcome news to colleagues in seaside (and other) towns, afflicted by second home ownership.  Unfortunately, HMOs occupied by students do not count as second homes - though manifestly they are, and they have exactly the same impact as conventional second homes!  However, this move by the government may help to reinforce the arguments of the National HMO Lobby and its members.