We are calling for the Community Housing Fund to be renewed for 5 years!
Leading up to and directly following the Spring Budget, we and our groups lobbied hard on the extension of the CHF. Unfortunately, it wasn't included in the Spring Budget. The Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) on September 24th - where HM Treasury will set the priorities for Government spending for the next few years - is the next and best chance we have to get the Community Housing Fund renewed. Despite the fact that the budget planned for autumn 2020 has been cancelled, officials are still working on spending review proposals, and the CHF can still be included under MHCLG’s departmental budget for the next few years.
The community led housing sector is delivering on many of the Government’s priorities for housing and beyond. We are ready and able to support the economic recovery and Government’sambition for 300,000 new homes per year, we are building additional homes that would not be available through the mainstream and are building beautiful, innovative and environmentally friendly homes. Recent research commissioned by the National CLT Network also shows that community led housing represents high value for money for public investment. The results show that over a ten-year horizon each £1 of public support delivers £1.80 of benefit, rising to £2.70 when health and benefit savings, wellbeing and income distribution are factored in.
See a recording of our launch of the research on 15 September below! Remarks from the Housing Minister can be found around minute 33.
We know how critical the Community Housing Fund is for you all. There are 10,780 homes in live applications on Homes England’s system, 859 communities bringing forward projects and the potential pipeline has grown from just under 6,000 homes in 2017 to over 23,000 homes today. It is vital that the Government now delivers on its manifesto commitment to community led housing so these projects can be realised!
What you can do to ensure the continuation of the Community Housing Fund:
Send your MP a letter asking for them to press HM Treasury (and the Chancellor) to prioritise community led housing and renew the CHF for 5 years. This letter asks the Chancellor, copying the Secretary of State, to renew the CHF for 5 years in the CSR, and to urgently make provision for the Fund in MHCLG’s RDEL settlement. To make things easier, (1) a template for the letter you can send to your MP, (2) the template letter from your MP to the Minister to attach and (3) the National CLT Network's submission to the CSR can be found in the downloadable documents at the bottom of this page.
Let us know which MPs you have emailed and what they respond! We will be shouting about all the MPs that sign on to support the CHF's renewal and challenging ourselves to have more MPs lobbying the Chancellor than we've ever done before.
Promote the campaign and your involvement through your community led housing group's communication channels (social media, website etc).
While we will be asking your regional enabling hubs if they'd like to write and send their own submissions to HM Treasury by the deadline of 24 September for the CSR, groups are also welcome to do so. See our own submission for ideas and contact us if you need more help.
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 23 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 Government 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.
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 outside London came to an end in March 2020. In London, it will continue to March 2023.