19million fund to tackle problem of second-home ownership…

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The South West is the biggest winner in a new scheme aimed at tackling the problem of high levels of second home ownership.

An annual £60 million fund has been set up to help almost 150 councils and boost community-led housing.

Almost a third of the funding – more than £19 million – will be allocated directly to local authorities in the South West as this is the most popular region for second homes in England. The region accounts for 21% of all second homeownership.

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.

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.

Housing Minister Gavin Barwell said: "The high number of second homes can be a frustration for many who struggle to find an affordable home in their community.

"This new fund will help tackle that by boosting supply and make sure community groups are at the heart of delivering new homes so that this is a country that works for everyone.

"I saw for myself the great work community land trusts do on a recent visit to Cornwall and we want them to do much, much more."

Allocated amount by region

  • South West £19,125,110
  • South East £11,336,157
  • East of England £8,950,048
  • Yorkshire and Humberside £6,419,494
  • North West £5,945,896
  • East Midlands £2,691,608
  • London £2,306,589
  • West Midlands £1,910,498
  • North East £1,314,600

In the 2016 Budget the Government announced it would use some of the funding raised from the Stamp Duty Land Tax surcharge on additional properties to communities affected by second home ownership and to address the crowding out of first-time buyers in these communities.

The funding will be targeted at the community-led housing sector and distributed to groups via local councils.

Catherine Harrington, director of the National Community Land Trust Network, said: "We are delighted that the Government is backing community-led housing with this new fund.

"Every few days a new community-led housing provider forms to take housing into their own hands, providing homes that are affordable to local people.

"This fund could triple the 3,000 homes that community land trusts alone already have in the pipeline."

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.

Planning applications from community-led housing 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.

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