Cornwall Council is set to become a housing developer

Cornwall Council delivers many services that we all receive as part of our daily lives. In fact you will be surprised just how much the Council delivers. In something that may surprise people, the Council is set to add another ‘string-to-its-bow’ by becoming a house builder. Yep, the Council is set to become a housing developer.

The ambition for the Council is to deliver up to 500 homes a year through cross subsidising developments. This would mean delivering a mixture of affordable and market homes for rent, and homes for sale. The rationale behind it – according to the experts – is Cornwall needs more homes, and the market alone cannot deliver this in the coming years.

The Council is now poised to directly invest and build attractive high quality homes that people can afford, in areas of high demand. The vision is to provide attractive, high quality, energy-efficient homes. New homes through the programme will be healthy to live in and cost-effective to heat and maintain.

The Council has identified two potential pilot sites for this project. The first in Tolvaddon, the second in Bodmin.

The project is very much in the design stage. The Council wants to consult with the target market and local communities to find out what type of homes they would like built. This information will influence the designs that our architects then develop.

Therefore, the Council is hosting engagement events near both of the sites in February so that we can engage with the local community and identify potential customers.

  • On 11 Feb from 1pm to 8pm we will be at Heartlands, Pool
  • On 15 Feb from 1pm to 8pm we will be at Chy Trevail Offices in Bodmin

This is not something new, as other Councils are already doing this. Of course before a home is built you need land. Which the Council owns a large chunk of land in Cornwall. It also needs investment.  My view is tax payer’s money should not be used and therefore, I am content that this will be funded by borrowing and building efficiently without any ongoing cost to the public purse.

There also needs to have the right infrastructure in or put in place if you want to deliver 500 homes a year. There is no point in putting homes in a certain place if it will have a negative impact on areas like school places.

I would hope the affordable/open market ratio is right. I would hate to think – if this plan happens – there will be a temptation to build more open market homes due to the profitability over affordable homes.

However, if the Council was to become a housing developer, home should be built on need rather than profit which drives most, if not all, housing developers.

I am sure these plans will be met by horror by some quarters, but then again, it could be seen as the Council tackling the housing issues in Cornwall rather than waiting for developers to dictate where a housing goes on profitability over need.

 

House prices, affordability and wages in Cornwall

The issue of house prices, their affordability and wages is a very important issue in Cornwall. This blog post is one of several I will be doing on the subject and will include comparisons of house prices in different Cornish settlements; their affordability compared the median and the house affordability ratio in the national content.

The issue of the affordability of a house in ratio to wages is large, but worryingly, it is getter larger as wages and house prices are not rising at the same, or even near the rate.

In 2000 an average house price in Cornwall could cost you £77,797.00. Compare this with the South West – £88,412 and for England and Wales – £83,373.  So a house in Cornwall was 12% less than the South West Average and 6.6% than the England and Wales average. Now lets look at the average house price in 2014, but before I do, I hope you are sitting down. In 2014 the average house price in Cornwall was £183,721. An increase of 136% in fourteen years.  The 2014 average for the South West is £181,471 and for England and Wales £173,228. For those interested the rise in the South West £105% and England and Wales 107%. (source Land Registry)

The house price increase is bad enough, but when you compare it with gross annual earnings you realise the affordability of a house in Cornwall is a major issue. In 2000 the average earnings (all work place employees) in Cornwall was £11,594. For the South West, £14,313 and for England and Wales, £15,952. This makes those in Cornwall paid 19% less than the South West and 27% less than England in Wales in 2000.

housewage1

The 2014 gross annual earnings for Cornwall was £17,344; an increase of 49.5% between the two periods – which is good news. The increase to £20,081 for the South West is less of an increase than Cornwall at 40.2% when you compare the 2001 and 2014 figures. For England and Wales the wage increase is to £22,201; and increase of 39% again less than Cornwall. However, and this is one of the points, Cornwall is still paid 28% less than the England and Wales average, which is a disgrace. (source for wages is NOMIS and ASHE)

Next, let’s look at the affordability ratio in Cornwall, the South West and in England and Wales.  In Cornwall the affordability ratio in Cornwall rose from 6.7 in 2000 to peak in 2004 at 12.5, then at 12.4 in 2007. The ratio then fell back but has been fairly stable at between 10.7 and 10.4 between 2007 and 2013. The ratio for 2014 has risen slightly to 10.6.

The South West saw an affordability rate of 6.2 in 2000 and 9 in 2014. For England Wales the ration was 5.2 in 2000 and 7.8 in 2014. It is clear the ratios have been consistently been higher in Cornwall than across England and Wales, and less affordable than both in the South West and England and Wales.ratio1

From this evidence is really highlights Cornwall has a major issue on the affordability of a house. Is this  issue one of economics and supply and demand? If one is greater than you have a greater impact? If there were more houses, would prices be cheaper? Have holiday lets and second homes added to the pressure of increased demand and therefore higher prices? The answer is probably, but to point a finger at one is a rather simplistic method and one that will be more than likely wrong. I believe it is several issues that add to the housing issue in Cornwall. However, I feel the main reason is wages and the historic lower pay Cornwall has. In previous blogs: Cornwall is one of the lowest paid areas in the UK  and Cornwall’s Average Wage there is a myth of low wages is in just one sector as from the evidence jobs in Cornwall are less well paid across the sectors it only reason why it seems is because those jobs are in Cornwall. Though, more research is needed on why this is.

Is this issue on of the chicken and the egg? Do we raise wages or lower house prices to make them more affordable?

 

Housing in Cornwall and the Strategic Housing Framework

I think it is a given that people know housing and the lack of affordability is an issue in Cornwall. As of January 2014 the average price of a property in Cornwall was £180,797. This is a staggering eight times the average (median) income of £22,246. The demand far outstrips the demand. In Cornwall 35.6% of households have an income less than £15,000 compared nationally of 25.1%.

Currently population of Cornwall is 532,273 as per the 2011 Census a rise of 6.7% since the 2001 and is set to rise to an estimated 585,500 by 2021 (ONS population projection). So the issue of the lack of housing and its affordability is not going to go away, and is in fact, going to get a lot worse unless something is done about it.

The 2011 Census identified Cornwall has 258,883 dwellings. From that number, there are at least 2,000 empty homes* which could be brought back into use. However, that is not always easy, as some landlords are unwilling to engage. Compulsory Purchase is a difficult and is often a long and complex issue for a Council to undertake. Good news is the Council has been working with landlords and has been able to bring a stead number of empty homes back into use.

There is also the added impact of at least 5% of Cornwall’s housing are second homes*** which despite the Council wanting some planning regulations brought in to control the number of second homes, the Government is unwilling to help.

Mortgage lending a lot tighter, and taking into account the average income of Cornwall, people will struggle to get an approval for a mortgage. Hence why affordable housing is key to making sure we have enough housing for residents. Cornwall also has a high proportion of privately rented accommodation. These private rents are often at the peak of the market prices. Unlike affordable rentals owned by either an RSL and/or the LA are set up to 80% of the local market rent.

Housing affordability is also an issue when you take into account the Welfare Reform, which the full impact of the reform has yet to be fully understood. Furthermore, 19% of households are in fuel poverty. A household is said to be in fuel poor if it needs to spend more than 10% of its income on fuel to maintain a satisfactory heating regime – 21 degrees for main living area.

Currently, there are 28,000 households on the Homechoice register. From that register there are 2,000 lettings per year. This means someone on the register has a less than 1 in 10 chance of being successfully housed.  For the period of 2010-13, 2,262 affordable houses were completed. It is estimated** the need for a further 2,240 to be built over the next five years. So there is some good news on affordable housing being provided, but this is not enough.

One way to start to address the issue of affordable housing is the recently approved Strategic Housing Framework 2014-19. This document sets out the Council’s aspirations and priorities for housing four the next five years. It has been designed to complement the Local Plan, Strategic Economic Plan and the Health and Wellbeing Strategy. Key to the housing framework is this is not just about the Council, but the Council’s partners too.

By using this plan will allow Cornwall Council with its partners to address the housing issues Cornwall faces now and is going to in the future in nothing is done about affordable housing in Cornwall.

Sources:
*Empty Homes Register 2013
**Strategic Housing Market
***Council Tax Register 2012

Changes to Cornwall Council’s Housing Allocations Scheme

Cornwall Council like all primary Local Authorities have a statutory duty to produce a housing allocation scheme. In Cornwall this is called Homechoice. The allocation scheme sets out the way in which social housing is allocated to people in Cornwall. The demand for housing in Cornwall is high with a greater demand than supply. This is why it is important for Cornwall Council to have a robust policy which is in accordance with national policy.

Recent changes to Government legislation means Cornwall Council has now more scope to decide  who can qualify to join the Housing Register and other changes. This will hopefully help Cornwall Council and Cornwall Housing Ltd to better manage the housing waiting list by making sure that the homes that are available go to those families and individuals that are in the greatest need. Currently, there are 28,000 people on the Homechoice register.

As part of the new powers,  Cornwall Council Councillors have agreed to consult on possible changes to the current scheme. Cornwall Council are proposing changes to:

  • Who can join the Housing Register;
  • How applicants are banded;
  • How housing will be advertised and let; and
  • Applicant responsibilities.

But before any changes are implemented, the Council wants to hear your views. Therefore there is a consultation period which will run until Friday 21st June. 

There are proposed changes to those who do not have a Cornwall Connection cannot join the homechoice scheme until they have the Cornwall Connection. The Cornwall Connection is either: residence; a family connection; or, working in the county. Cornwall Council currently asks that households should have lived in the county for 1 year before they qualify for a Cornwall Connection through ‘residence.’ There is also a question of the length of time to qualify for residency – this is either three or five years. My view it is should be five years. 

Currently anyone evicted because of unacceptable behaviour is able to join the housing register.  A proposed change to the scheme is not to allow those persons to re-join the register for a period of two years. Examples of unacceptable behaviour are: breaching the conditions of the tenancy agreement and /or causing nuisance to neighbours. There is also a proposal to not allow someone to rejoin the scheme is they have been evicted for rent arrears. The latter reason – rent arrears – has me slightly worried, as I hope if someone has been evicted for rent arrears all possible avenues have been explored before eviction. I am happy with the baring for those who are evicted for unacceptable behaviour.

For those with assets (home ownership and / or savings) over £70,000 are able to join the scheme, but are placed automatically into Band E. The proposed changes will restrict someone joining the scheme if they have assets over £50,000. I think this new figure is still high and should be further reduced.

A further question is on affordability. Currently, anyone no matter how much you earn can join the Homechoice register. Under the new proposals, anyone who can ‘afford’  to be able to choose their own accommodation should not be allowed to register.  A difficult one, you maybe able to afford market rents, but should that exclude you from the register? My view is no. However, a more sensible solution could include a salary cap.

There is a proposal to change the banding from A – the highest to,  E  – the lowest to Red, Amber and Green. I worry with a more simplified banding, any one in Green stands little chance of being allocated a house, much like those currently in Band E. Though there is plans to introduce an additional priority within the Green Band which recognises and rewards preference to an applicant who is engaged in one of the following:  fulltime work/ Vocational training – 16 or more hours per week and /or Voluntary work in the Community.

There is an online survey which you can complete HERE. Which I urge people to take the 5/10 minutes to complete. The survey is open to all. There is a briefing paper on the subject HERE. The draft allocation policy is HERE , and  frequently asked question HERE . Just in case you want further details.

The Cost of Living in Cornwall

Now the Christmas and New Year Festivities are over, and many of us are wondering if those jeans/trousers have shrunk in the wash, it is time to get back to blogging and my first post of 2013 is on the cost of living in Cornwall.

I am sorry if this is a depressing blog to start the new year, but with the forthcoming implementation of many aspects of the Governments Universal Credit and Cornwall Council’s Cabinet recommending everyone pays some sort of Council Tax, I though pay and the cost of living was a poignant way to start.

I often hear from friends who live outside of Cornwall on how lovely it must be, and it must be great to live there. I reply it is, but it is not all picture postcard scenes. Cornwall is also not unique with the issues of low pay, high house prices,  but what is the real cost of living in Cornwall?

Lets start with what is the estimated living wage which is needed to provide an adequate standard of living. It is £7.45 per hour. In Cornwall around 20% of the working age population earn less than the living wage.  However, it is easy just to say it is this amount, but how do you achieve it? Just paying start more will result in prices going up, which then could lead to less being affordable. It is not just the pay the employer gives to the employee, but the employers contributions like NI. It all adds up.

Extensive research by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has come up with the levels of incomes for different types of households to have an acceptable of living. These figures surprised me. For example:

  • A single person needs to spend £193 (excluding rent) a week to reach a minimum standard of living – you would need to earn £16,400 a year in order to be left with £193 a week after paying a basic rent, tax and national insurance
  • For someone out of work, benefits provide £85 a week (including Council Tax Benefit, £108 short of what they need. This will get worse with the Government and Cornwall Council changes to the benefit system.
  • A couple with two children aged 3 and 7 needs to spend £455 (excluding rent and childcare) a week to reach a minimum standard of living. If one parent works, they will need to earn £34,900 a year in order to be left with £455 a week. If both parents work full-time, they will each need to earn £18,400. Lastly, if no parent works the family will get £281 a week (including Council Tax Benefit), leaving them £174 short of what they need.

For other family groups (per week):

Single Pensioner –  £159; Pensioner couple – £231; lone parent Plus 1 child –  £276; lone parent plus 2 children – £362; couple plus 2 children –  £455; couple plus 1 child – £374 and couple – £302

So if households do not reach this level, then what? This leads to other issues like the following data.

A high proportion of households in Cornwall are in fuel poverty.  The total number of fuel poor households in Cornwall in 2010 was estimated to be 44,700. That is one in five households. I reckon that figure is likely to be higher now. Fuel poverty is made worse, not just because of low wages, but also because of the lack of mainline gas (97,530 households – 43%) and a high number of hard to heat housing (35% of households are solid wall properties). Even Energy costs vary regionally, and again Cornwall’s and are amongst the highest in the South West.

Housing plays a big part in the cost of living in Cornwall, too. It is of no surprise that the average house price in Cornwall is higher than the national average. This is £183,179, compared to the national average of £162,561 (using sept 2012 figures). This suggests that on average a house in Cornwall costs almost 9 times annual earnings. Private rent is on the high side too, and then add in the short supply of this in many locations pushes up prices even higher. Though it is not all bad news, as the average local authority rent and social housing in Cornwall is the lower than the average. There is just a lack of that type available.

Transport especially the public type is poor in Cornwall resulting in people are more reliant on cars for journeys to work, school and accessing services such as healthcare, as well as for social uses. In fact 80% of people own a car in Cornwall, compared to 73% nationally. And with the price of fuel lately, this is an added pressure on the household budget. Car owners in rural areas pay more for their fuel (1.9 pence per litre or around 1.4 per cent more). For a typical family car (with a fuel tank of 15 gallons/68 litres), this equated to paying an average of £1.27 more to fill the fuel tank. That might not seem a lot, but add that up over a year, and it soon mounts up.

So yes Cornwall is a lovely place to live, but it also has this underbelly, which will only get worse if the cost of living gets more expensive. Then add in the cuts to funding which the Government is carrying out and things could get a lot bleaker

 

Data used is from Cornwall Council Community Intelligence Teams report: Cost of Living December 2012 (which is great!!)

Cornwall’s Empty Homes

When talking about housing and Cornwall in the same sentence you often get the same replies. Too many second homes and not enough affordable housing. Both of these issues do have an affect on the housing stock in Cornwall, but there is another category that is hardly mentioned. And that is empty homes.

Empty home’s is a  problem for Cornwall’s housing stock and as of 1st July 2012, there are currently 3875 properties registered as long-term empty in Cornwall. Now granted it is not always the fault of the owner as why a house is empty because many are subject to legal proceedings like probate, repossession, divorce etc. Besides the properties that are known to the Authority via the Council Tax register, the Empty Homes Team is in correspondence with the owners of 487 properties that are not registered as long-term empty, but are not in use.

However, there are many whose owners just does not care if their property is left empty. It is these that should be targeted to see what can be done to bring them back into use. Cornwall Council’s Empty Homes Team has had some success in bring these empty homes back into use.

In the last quarter of 2010, 89 homes were brought back into use. For 2012, a 142 and for the first quarter of 2012, 46. This is good news, but is only scratching the surface of the problem. More could be done, but this relies on more money being assigned to the issue. Central Government has awarded several million to help Cornwall Council, but this is like taking a bucket of water out of the sea.

In Porthleven, my last figures had 27 properties that are classed as empty homes. I have been working with the Empty Homes Team to highlight those have been long-term empty. The owners of these properties have been contacted, and some progress has been made. However if the owners still do not respond, Cornwall Council can use its powers of Compulsory Purchase. This though can be a long and expensive process, and has yet not used these powers.

Let’s hope by talking to the owners of the properties, a lot can be brought back into use.

Welfare Reforms and the Bedroom Tax

Usually Cornwall Council is pretty good on briefing its elected members on major changes to funding, or items that will have an impact on the lives of people who we serve. On Monday, there was a  briefing on the Governments Welfare Reforms that will start in April 2013.

My view is any reform to the welfare state has to be for the right reasons, not just reforming the system to save money. That is never a good idea, as it often harms those most in need. Reform should only be carried out to make sure those most in need get the help they require. Granted, it is a difficult balancing act, but as I have just said, a change just to save money is a dangerous way to carry out a reform. More so as this welfare reform is the biggest in 60 years.

The current welfare system has over 30 different kinds of benefits schemes, so I won’t disagree that it  could do with a little streamlining to make it understandable to those administering and using the system. This streamlining is being carried out by the introduction of the Universal Credit (UC). Basically, this is a single means-tested support for working-age people who are in or out-of work.

The aim of the UC is designed to ensure work pays; it will personalise conditions according to people’s capability and circumstances, and is payable in a single monthly payment. A worrying point on the one monthly payment is this will be made to the head of the household. I fear this could lead to further issues.

There is also a cap to how much will be paid. This cap on the amount paid will be no more than the UK average household earnings. From figures I have, the current average wage in the UK is £26, 079 (Cornwall it is £21,258). A question was asked at the briefing was would the amount pay be based on regional pay, the answer was no. The current benefit cap is £35,000. Members were informed that this new cap of the average wage would affect 150 families in Cornwall.

Of course, there are far more details on these changes available via the normal channels, like the council’s One Stop Shop. I am not staying the system will be the Holy Grail of welfare reform, as with any new system there are still many of the actual details to be released, and more strangely still to be agreed. Which brings me on to another point of why do successive Governments roll-out new schemes when the real detail has not been finalised? It is like buying a new pair of shoes and only getting the box, and then you have to wait to see what type of shoe you have brought, and find out if they actually fit!

However, the real snake-in-the-grass in this reform is the changes to Housing Benefit. This has the potential to really hurt the people not only in Cornwall, but the rest of the country, too. Under the new scheme if you live in either social housing (a council house) or private rental and you have a spare bedroom(s), the Government is going to reduce your Housing Benefit.

For example, if you have one spare room, you will see a reduction in payment of 14%. In monetary terms (average rent) this equals to £9.70 per week reduction. For two or more spare bedrooms this reduction goes up to 25%, again in monetary terms this is £18.50 per week.

I think the rationale behind this is to make people downsize houses that are not in full use, and therefore free up some under used housing. However, this only would work if you have a surplus stock of houses so it is easy to downsize when rooms are surplus for one reason or another. In Cornwall there is a critical shortage of social housing (22,000 on the waiting list), so it is very hard to downsize because of the lack of social housing. So you will be penalised for no fault of your own!

From next year, the Government will reduce your Housing Benefit if you have spare rooms; even if you cannot move though no fault of your own. Like the lack of available housing. This is a totally wrong on all levels. These cuts will put on added pressure to find that extra money and will also lead to people struggling to pay their rent; which means someone could lose their home. Under the current rules being homeless for non-payment of rent/mortgage is classed as making yourself homeless. Making yourself homeless means the council has no duty to house you.

The figures of households that will be affected by this change is 1200 for Cornwall Council owned social housing (Cornwall Housing). The actual number of households that will be affected is going to be far, far greater because the other Registered Social Landlords (RSL), which includes Coastline Housing, Penwith Housing etc have yet to tell Cornwall Council their numbers. And you will have to add in all the private rental, too. I was told these details would be available by September. However, figures of 33% of households that could be affected were mentioned at this briefing.

These changes will not only be restricted to RSL housing, as those in private rental, will also be subject to the new rules. That I believe will have a far greater impact on people than first thought.

Cornwall already has  a housing crisis with the lack of affordable rents, this change to the benefits it going to hurt people the benefit system was meant to help.

To add to Cornwall’s concerns is the funding for Cornwall Council council tax support will have a £6m shortful when this new system comes into effect. There is one positive, these changes will not effect pensioners.

More Empty Homes in Porthleven

A couple of days ago I blogged about the eye opening figures of second homes in Porthleven. There was one category I missed out, and this was empty homes. I know what you are thinking aren’t empty homes the same as second? Well, no is the simple answer. They are classed as ‘chargeable dwellings which are not in use’

There could be various reasons like a divorce, probate issue, or some other legal reason which does not allow someone to live in this house. The house could also be in the process of being renovated. There is also the owners who are not bothered if anyone lives in there.

Unlike second homes who can have a 10% discount on council tax, or a holiday let which is subject to NDR, a empty house will pay full council tax after a period of six months of having it free. I believe the free period take into account the previous points on why it could be empty. After six months it is reasonable to think any issue has been sorted. In theory you could claim it is empty for six months and then turn it into a second home after that. I wonder how often this happens, and the amount of council tax lost.

So the question is how many homes in Porthleven fall into the this category of empty homes? The answer is 27. Two of these are being dealt with as a priority by the Cornwall Council’s empty homes team after I highlighted the long term problem surrounding these buildings. As for the rest, the empty homes team is looking into them.

As I have used Looe and Padstow as comparable places to Porthleven here are their numbers.

  • Looe – 145
  • Padstow – 77
If you add these empty homes to the second homes and holiday let numbers you get the following numbers and percentages of houses not in full occupation:
  • Porthleven – 246 (14.5%)
  • Padstow – 975 (53.2%)
  • Looe – 588 (20.1%)
Cornwall Council is doing something about this by trying to bring back into use these empty houses. Money has also been budgeted to the tune of £1.8 million and the council has just been awarded a further £3.8m from central government to help with this problem.  This fund might sound a lot, and it is a start, but there is still a long way to go if the council wants to solve this issue. I have blogged about this subject before HERE and HERE.
To (mis)use the phrase said by James Lovell:  “Cornwall, we have a problem” pretty well sums up the situation. 

1 in 8 Homes in Porthleven Are Not Lived In

It is not often a few days goes by without hearing Cornwall is full of second homes. It is a hot topic in Porthleven too. But, how much of the rumours are true. How many houses in Porthleven are in full time occupation, part time, or holiday lets?

The total housing stock in Porthleven which are banded for council tax is 1,692. This information was kindly supplied by Cornwall Council (a big thank you). The types and number of second home and holiday lets in Porthleven are:
  • 153 council tax discount (second home)
  • 66 holiday lets
In percentage terms this equates to 9% of houses which are 2nd homes. If you include holiday lets the percent of housing  in Porthleven is 13% that is not in full time occupation. Compare this with other similar towns to Porthleven like Looe (2,923 banded houses) and Padstow (1,831 Banded houses).
Looe:

  • 121 holiday lets 
  • 322 council tax discount

Percentage of second homes 11% and total not in full time occupation 15% of housing stock

    Padstow:
    • 379 holiday lets
    • 519 council tax discount

    Percentage of second homes 23% and total not in full time occupation 49% (!!) of housing stock

    Now, holiday lets do play an important part to a town’s economy with visitor spend and employment. Trades people also get work from lets. So it is not all doom and gloom with holiday lets. They are an important part of a tourist town’s fragile economy. However, better planning rules could be in place to make sure the balance is just right.

    Lets now take 2nd homes. Porthleven has 153 of them that apply for the 10% discount on council tax. It is worth noting that the figure of second homes could be higher if a owner chooses to pay the full council tax. Unlike holiday lets which are run as a business, second homes are not. These are generally used for the benefit of the owners. As when not in use, lay empty for large parts of the year.

    A huge problem with second homes is to the housing stock. With less rental leads to higher prices being demanded. An average rent for a 2/3 bed property is over £600 a month.This is unaffordable to many people. It also has an affect on house prices if a house is in a desirable location, or seen as an investment opportunity. The sale price of the average house in Porthleven is around £180,000; again unaffordable for many due to low wage, bank reluctance to lend, or can’t save up a big enough deposit.

    Imagine if only half of these 153 properties were available for long term affordable rent. It would go a long way to solve the housing problems in Porthleven. It would also mean you would not have to extend the town planning boundaries so much to meet the housing need. This can only be good for a community.

    The Government is planning to allow all local authorities not to apply a discount on council tax. Currently it is law, and a local authority can offer anything between 50% and 10%. Cornwall Council only allows a 10% discount. Now if the discount stopped, how would we know how many houses not in full time occupation? The real danger is the number of second homes would be unmonitored and you would not know how many there are. Therefore, if the discount is stopped there must be some other way of keeping a record on the number of second homes.

    I am not totally against second homes, but (and it is a very big but) you have to have some sort of balance between second homes and full time use. This balance must also be backed up by legislation that is enforceable to limit the number of second homes.  Or else you end up with at least 49% of housing stock like in Padstow not in full time occupation.

    Porthleven Social Housing – Update

    As I thought, there was massive interest in acquiring one of the new social housing in Porthleven. The total number of bids for these 26 homes was in fact 528. That is a huge amount, and it goes to show that more of these types of homes are very much needed in Porthleven.

    As these houses were so heavily subcribed there will be huge disappointment for those people and families that have not been successful. I can though confirm that all these houses will go to people who have ‘Local Connections’ which IS very important. That does not mean that every person has to be born and bred through many generations a Porthlevener, but will have to meet the strict rules that have been applied to these houses. Some might argue that they should be, but where would you draw the line, how many generations would you have to go back, and would both parents/grandparents have to be from Porthleven? Of course, if you did apply these rule it would fall foul of the law as illegal.

    Lets now hope that more land and money can be found to build more houses of this type as it has been proven that there is a dire need of more social housing in areas like Porthleven. I believe we should concentrate our resources more on this type; more than those which are labelled ‘affordable’. As these types are in many cases not affordable in Cornwall due to the low wages paid and the banks reluctancy to lend on these types.

    Just on a final point, I have heard many rummours that I have one of these houses. I state here and now that I have not. Even though I am on the Homechoice register, I did not apply for one. Hopefully that will end any rumour going around that I have got one.

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