Second Homes and Holiday Lets: Rural Communities — [Mr Virendra Sharma in the Chair]

Part of Backbench Business – in Westminster Hall at 1:30 pm on 6th January 2022.

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Photo of Tim Farron Tim Farron Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Communities and Local Government), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Housing, Communities and Local Government) 1:30 pm, 6th January 2022

I am grateful for the hon. Gentleman’s intervention. The short answer is yes. The slightly longer answer is that the first homes scheme cannot be instead of other schemes but has to be in addition to them. By the way, in a community like ours where the average household price is 11 times greater than the average income, the first homes scheme will not help people; it will not even nearly help them. Maybe if their income was seven times less than the average house price, it might just help them, so it is a good scheme, but it is barely even the tip of the iceberg. Yes, I have spoken to the previous Secretary of State to ask him to make our area a pilot, but that does not touch the sides, if I am honest. Nevertheless, the hon. Gentleman has raised a really important point.

During the pandemic, I have spoken to many local estate agents across our county. Around 80% of all house sales during the past two years have been in the second home market. Those who have the money to do so are rethinking their priorities, investing in the rising value of property and seeking a piece of the countryside to call their own, and we can kind of understand that. I do not wish to demonise anybody with a second home, or to say that there are no circumstances in which it is okay to have one, but let me be blunt: surely, someone’s right to have a second home must not trump a struggling family’s right to have any home, yet in reality, apparently it does. Every day that the Government fail to act is another day that they are backing those who are lucky enough to have multiple homes against those who cannot find any home in the lakes, the dales or any other rural community in our country.