Community Housing Fund still on the table

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You may have heard that Michael Gove has binned the Community Housing Fund. That was the position covered by Inside Housing in an article published on the 19th May.

In fact, the Community Housing Fund is still on the table. Here’s a quick explanation of the current position, how we got here, and what we can all do to get the fund reopened.

The Community Housing Fund (only for England) has been through three different versions since it was announced in 2016. We described each version and the positive impact of the fund in our briefing for MPs (PDF). Since December 2021 it has been closed to applications outside London, and within London, it is more or less fully allocated.

We’ve been campaigning for it to be renewed with a fresh injection of £65m in the current three year spending period. Together we have:

  • Commissioned a detailed independent study (PDF) of the pipeline, showing projects to build or renovate 12,000 homes could get on site with the funding.
  • Launched the research at an event with the Housing Minister, joined by Homes England, the Greater London Authority, Greater Manchester Combined Authority and Ecology Building Society.
  • Submitted a detailed proposal to the Spending Review in partnership with the UK Cohousing Network, Confederation of Co-operative Housing and Locality.
  • Won the support of influential MPs, think tanks, industry bodies and the Bacon Review commissioned by the Prime Minister, all of whom have lobbied with us.
  • And of course, CLTs have lobbied over 100 MPs, many of whom have gone on to lobby ministers on your behalf.

All of this work has put the CHF on the table. We didn’t win a specific allocation of funds in the Spending Review, so we then turned to persuading the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) to allocate the £65m from its own internal revenue budget.

This budget process dragged on far longer than usual, in part because Michael Gove took over from Robert Jenrick as Secretary of State.

But we heard from officials on the 11th May that the Secretary of State had decided not to allocate any money, not to renew the fund.

So we scrambled into action. Phone calls to MPs and officials; notes drafted for special advisers; our CEO Tom managed to ask Gove a question at an event in Parliament and speak to him about it briefly as he left; we tipped off the Inside Housing journalist who we’d fed the original ‘waiting for a decision’ story to.

This all set the cat among the pigeons, and within a fortnight of his decision, we heard that Gove had changed his mind. It was back on the table.

Not only that, but ministers feel under pressure to show how they are supporting community led housing. They have asked officials to draw up other proposals.

We’re continuing our lobbying work, and in this time of turmoil perhaps we’ll come up trumps.

The ace in our pack of cards remains you: our members. The more you do to mobilise your MP, the more political pressure that puts on ministers. Now, more than ever, this matters.

So if you haven’t done so yet, please write to your MP, attaching our briefing for MPs (PDF) and asking them to write on to the Secretary of State . Be sure to email Sophie to say you’ve written. If you’ve done it before, maybe take this opportunity to write again and ask them to reiterate the importance of the CHF to ministers.

We’ve got this far, together, and together we can win it.