The lack of affordable housing is a problem across the country, but its causes are different in different places. The Liberal Democrats in Cornwall have proposed a list of solutions, but the Conservative Government in London is not acting quickly enough:
The biggest factor affecting house prices in Cornwall is the fact that 25,000 properties are being used as holiday accommodation instead of homes for local families. Many of the Lib Dems' proposed solutions would cost the Treasury nothing, but have been rejected by the Conservative Government as they may have an impact on holiday accommodation owners (many of whom are Conservative party donors).
|Lib Dem Solution
|There are no restrictions on homes being turned into holiday accommodation. Hundreds of local families have been evicted by landlords who see more profit in the holiday sector.
Lib Dems say planning permission should be required before a home can be converted to holiday accommodation, giving local communities the power to control numbers in their area.
The Government has agreed to this principle, but set no date for taking any action.
|13,000 "short term rentals" (e.g. Airbnb) pay have their business rates paid by central Government. Most were also paid £18,000 in COVID grants.
Lib Dems would end the subsidy of Short Term Rentals and use the money (approximately £20m per year) to provide affordable housing for local people.
The Government has repeatedly refused to exclude Short Term Rentals from subsidies.
|Second home owners claiming to be "short term rental businesses" to avoid paying Council tax and get access to business rate subsidies.
The Lib Dems called for tighter rules, requiring owners to provide evidence that they are actually trading as businesses before being treated as such.
The Government has accepted the Lib Dem call for tighter rules, which were introduced in April 2023.
|Second homes are a drain on the community, standing empty for most of the year and preventing a local family from having a full-time home. This undermines the viability of local shops, businesses and schools.
Lib Dems have called for higher rates of Council Tax on second homes (at least double, possibly even higher).
Government accepted the Lib Dem call for higher Council Tax on second homes, but this will not come into force until 2025.
|"Short Term Rentals" (e.g. Airbnb) are unregulated, so many properties are being rented out without fire, gas or electrical safety checks, insurance, or even the permission of the mortgage company.
Lib Dems have called for a registration scheme to created so that no property can be rented out until the Council has verified that all relevant checks have been made.
Government has passed a law requiring short-term rentals to be regulated, but not yet given Councils any details of how this should happen.
Low local wages also make it hard for Cornish families to compete with people retiring to Cornwall. Older arrivals (who have paid Council tax elsewhere during their working lives) put a disproportionate strain on local health and social care services. Meanwhile the working-age people who work in these services are being forced out of Cornwall to find affordable accommodation elsewhere.
|Lib Dem Solution
|Local wages too low
Lib Dems want to pay care workers at least £2 per hour above the National Living Wage, but the Government has starved Councils of funding, making it impossible to pay higher wages to key workers.
|Competition between locals and new arrivals for property
Lib Dems delivered record numbers of affordable homes in Cornwall between 2013 and 2021. Over 1,000 per year made Cornwall the top Council in the Country for affordable home provision.
Since the Conservatives took control of the Council, Cornwall has fallen down the rankings for affordable home building.
|Key workers put off moving to Cornwall because of high house prices
Lib Dems have called for Key Workers to be given access to affordable housing.
Government has acknowledged the problem but not taken any action.
|Too few affordable homes being built in villages and rural parishes
Lib Dems have called for rules to be changed to make self-build more viable.
Government changed the rules so that smaller sites no longer need to include any affordable homes at all, and farm buildings can be converted to luxury homes.