At the very end of 2016, the Government announced that it would be making £60 million available to help “tackle the problem of high levels of second homeownership” in certain communities across the United Kingdom.
Cornwall Council has been awarded over £5 million pounds – a very
significant proportion of the overall “Community Housing Fund” – because
of the number of properties occupied on a part-time basis in our area.
announcement also made it clear that the money should go towards the
provision of affordable housing, which would be provided in partnership
with “community-led” organisations such as the Cornwall Community Land
This initiative has been widely welcomed, with the
CCLT praising central government for recognising this “long standing
problem” and prioritising Cornwall with its funding.
And it is,
of course, refreshing to finally see representatives of the Government
acknowledging that second homes are a significant issue in many coastal
and rural communities.
The press release from the Department of
Communities and Local Government states that “second home ownership is
at an all-time high” and is “crowding out first time buyers and causing a
shortage of available properties.”
It added that: “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 Housing Minister Gavin
Barwell was reported as saying that the “high number of second homes can
be a frustration for many who struggle to find an affordable home in
Mr Barwell’s comment about “frustration” is certainly a massive “under-statement” as far as I am concerned.
is also my view that this new investment in affordable housing does not
go far enough and will do little to combat the truly dysfunctional
nature of the present housing market.
It would be manifestly wrong to blame all housing problems on second homes.
in the context of local-needs housing, it needs to be pointed out that
the UK Government has massively slashed funding for affordable homes; it
has pushed for publicly-owned rental properties to be lost through
right-to-buy; it has forced Housing Associations to charge higher rents
for their properties, making them less affordable; and it has changed
planning rules so that developers provide less affordable homes on their
If the UK Government was truly serious about
combating second homes, it would introduce planning restrictions to stop
and then reverse the spread of such properties. It is my view that
planning permission should be needed to turn a family home into a second
home and if more than 5% of the housing stock in a particular
settlement and/or parish were second homes, no more would be allowed at