Friday, 20 August 2021


The following press release was sent out earlier today.

MK’s leadership team has challenged the UK Government to bring forward a range of “fundamental and far-reaching” interventions to deal with the UK’s dysfunctional housing market.

The statement from Cllrs Michael Bunney, Dick Cole, Andrew Long and Loveday Jenkin is as follows:

The housing market across the UK – but especially in Cornwall – is dysfunctional and it is not working for ordinary people. The cost of housing is going up and up, which is simply unsustainable.

So many families are struggling to access housing that properly meets their most basic needs, while it is scandalous that a lot of people have multiple properties – including “second homes” and bolt-holes – many of which stand empty for the majority of the year.

In many parts of Cornwall, the very fabric of local society is being undermined – not least because of external misconceptions of Cornwall as a holiday or leisure area.

The UK Government is failing to address the severity of the housing crisis, and it is refusing to bring forward the “fundamental and far-reaching” changes that are necessary to tackle the “out-of-control” housing market.

Mebyon Kernow is calling on the UK Government to:

Make changes to the planning system to prioritise the delivery of high-quality and genuinely affordable housing. It is wrong that the present set-up makes it easy for developers to get planning permission for expensive open-market properties and many developments provide no affordable homes at all.

Redefine the definition of affordable housing and link to local incomes. In recent years, central government has made “affordable” housing more expensive with “affordable rent” units which have a limited discount from market rents and the recent introduction of “First Homes” which could cost up to £250,000. Cornwall needs local-needs housing at a proper level of affordability.

Increase investment in the provision of proper affordable housing. It is important to ensure that a higher percentage of new dwellings are affordable homes and not open-market properties. This can be delivered through government investment.

Safeguard all existing rental properties owned by registered providers. The loss of rental properties from the public sector through “right to acquire” and other mechanisms needs to be curtailed. A number of housing associations have sold off some of their older properties rather than carry out renovations. MK maintains that all existing social rent properties should be retained in public ownership.

Make changes to the planning system to control "second homes." A longstanding policy of Mebyon Kernow is to introduce planning restrictions to stop and then reverse the spread of “second homes.” Part of this would relate to all existing dwellings being designated as principal residences.

Introduce a council tax premium on “second homes.” It is clear that “second homes” are a massive “social problem” and councils should be given the right to charge a council tax of at least 200% on such properties.

Introduce rent controls on private sector properties. The ever-increasing cost of rental properties is damaging the quality of life of thousands of households, and measures to make open-market rents less expensive are much needed.

Explore further mechanisms to better regulate the housing market. This should include the development of a “local housing market” for Cornwall with more “local occupation” criteria on properties and an expectation of all-year-round-residency, plus restrictions on marketing associated with estate agents.

At this time, we are fearful that the UK Government will not act to properly combat the housing crisis.

Mebyon Kernow is also continuing its campaign for greater self-government for Cornwall through a Cornish Assembly or Parliament, which would have control over all aspects of housing and planning and would be able to act in the best interests of the people of Cornwall.

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