Community Housing Fund – Latest

At the time of putting this newsletter together we still await news of the anticipated extension of the Government’s valuable Community Housing Fund.

Along with the National CLT Network and others, we’ve consistently pressed the case for the extension of the Community Housing Fund. With so much uncertainty in Government and the expectation of an election, it seems the situation remains fluid.

The fund, launched by Homes England in July 2018, provides £163m of revenue and capital funding for community land trusts, cohousing communities and housing co-operatives. The original expectation was that the Fund would continue for at least 5 years which would allow time for housing projects to be delivered. Most community-led projects take at least 4 years from original concept to finished homes.

The deadline for applications is approaching rapidly at the end of this year – 31st December 2019, and grants must be spent by March 2020! An incredibly small window.

Homes England has confirmed that there are now more than 3,500 homes in the fund’s pipeline. Those homes area at risk if the fund is not extended. We have many projects which have received offers or are eligible but cannot complete before the end of next March and need the certainty of an extension before we can start on site.

This point was emphasised by Truro and Falmouth MP Sarah Newton when she asked the (then) Chancellor of the Exchequer Phillip Hammond to confirm the continuance of the fund at Treasury Questions in July.

His response that “.. dealing with the challenges in the housing market is a priority for the Government {and} in the spending review {The Government} will continue to prioritise funds to support the housing market and the provision of affordable housing.” provided some comfort, but fell short of a confirmation.

Sarah Newton told us “I have long been a supporter of the Community Housing Fund and have consistently requested more money from the Government so that organisations like Cornwall CLT can continue to provide regular people with the tools to build and renovate, manage and control the homes their community needs. I know that the Fund is currently due to close in March 2020 and that this is creating uncertainty amongst community housing providers nationwide. I have raised this issue in the House and, more recently, wrote to the new Housing Minister, Rt Hon Esther McVey MP, asking that she consider using the budget increase delivered to MHCLG in the Spending Round to extend the CHF. I will continue to press Ministers to properly support the fund to enable communities here in Cornwall to develop affordable housing that meets their needs.”

We will circulate news to our contacts as soon as we learn what is happening next.