Rachel Stevenson www.theguardian.com
This feature article describes, at some length, the parlous state of the “affordable” housing market in Cornwall. People are being evicted because their landlord either wants to turn their property into a holiday let or because they want to sell up because property prices are so high. There is no accommodation – and the situation is getting worse because of benefit cuts and rising energy bills.
Simon Jupp recently asked Boris Johnson, in a parliamentary question, to meet him and colleagues across the South West to discuss this growing crisis.
Boris’ answer suggested that having legislated to introduce higher rates of stamp duty on second homes the problem had been solved.
No Boris – think again or are these problems below your pay grade?
See what Cornwall Council portfolio holder for housing needs:
Olly Monk, Cornwall Council portfolio holder for housing, says the council is doing all it can to end the housing crisis. “We’ve got an immediate issue with families who are being threatened with homelessness. It must be absolutely terrifying for them,” he said.
The council is buying caravan parks as well as developments of modular homes that can be erected quickly. It is also buying new-build houses straight from developers, announcing last week the purchase of 130 new homes, 100 of which would otherwise have gone on the open market. “This shows our commitment to do whatever is necessary to provide homes that people in our communities can afford,” said Monk.
“We are building and buying up as much social housing as we can. But we need Westminster to give us more powers. We want every property’s primary use to be residential, and if there is any deviation from that, then the owners have to apply to us for permission. We want to close the loophole that allows second homes that are holiday lets to not pay rates. And we want the power to put a surcharge on council tax for second homes or holiday lets.”
He also wants landlords and estate agents to “think twice”. “They should look at their conscience, and look at their communities, and think about where their sons and daughters are going to live in the future.”