We have secured a record £300m investment in community-led housing, and are now working with Government on the implementation of the Fund.
Background on the Fund
The Community Housing Fund was first announced in the 2016 Spring Budget, with a commitment to invest £60m in the sector. The money was to come from the proceeds of extra stamp duty on second home sales. Officials made clear to us that this was seen as a five year commitment, totalling a record £300m.
The first year of the fund was officially launched on the 23rd December 2016. The Government gave money to 148 local authorities, roughly in proportion to the number of second homes and the affordability crisis in their area. We worked with Governement and other sector bodies to provide guidance and support to those local authorities, but their use of the money has been mixed. Members can download a report on the first year of the fund in the 'member briefings' section of the members' area.
We lobbied Ministers and worked with officials from the spring of 2016 to secure a more sensible design for the Fund. Our members wrote to their MPs several times, and over 50 MPs and Peers wrote to the Minister and tabled written and oral questions. The topic was even raised at Prime Minister's Questions.
The National CLT Network took a leading role in influencing officials and lobbying Government for a decision on the Fund and its design. We mobilised our members to engage more than 50 MPs, who then wrote to or tabled questions to the Housing Minister. The Network also lobbied key MPs directly.
We proposed that the Fund be designed around four streams of funding:
- Revenue funding for groups to pay for professional services and fees to get to planning and on site;
- Capital grant funding to make your scheme viable and to deliver affordable homes;
- Investment in a national network of local enabling hubs which provide that vital one to one support to groups, foster a supportive local policy and funding environment and broker delivery partnerships;
- Co-investment in the national infrastructure for community-led housing, including: 1) a single website for community-led housing, making it easier for the public to find information on all community-led housing approaches; 2) a training and quality-mark programme for community-led housing advisers, making sure groups receive the best quality advice, no matter their location, and 3) national support for the network of local enablers.
In November 2017, the Minister of State for Housing and Planning, Alok Sharma, attended our national conference, where he announced the next three years of the fund (£180m from 2017-20). He also committed to these four elements of the programme, making clear that this design would scale up the sector's capacity and supply chains.
The Fund will transform the community-led housing sector and is expected to deliver 10,000 homes by 2021.
We have maintained contact with Ministers (who come and go!) and with officials throughout, and have secured the commitment of successive Ministers to the fund with the help of our members.
What is available
Homes England has launched the first phase of funding, covering revenue costs to help groups secure planning permission, and capital costs to make sites viable for housing.
The second phase of funding, capital for affordable housing, is due to launch later this year. The National CLT Network and partners are currently liaising with officials at both the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) and Homes England on the design of the funding prospectus, as well as the Greater London Authority on how the Fund will operate in London.
More information is available on our funding pages.
In addition, as part of a partnership with UK Cohousing, the Confederation of Cooperative Housing and Locality, we have also put in a proposal to MHCLG to deliver the national infrastructure and administer the grants to local enablers.