West Cornwall MP Derek Thomas has called for local authorities to support home ownership for local working families as the Government considers far-reaching reforms to planning and house-building.
The Government is currently working through the comments from a consultation paper – ‘Planning for the Future’ – which has, at its heart, the ambition of increasing people’s access to homes and home ownership.
At a debate on Tuesday to discuss the White Paper, Mr Thomas said that the current system was not working for areas like Cornwall where house prices are high and wages low.
In encouraging the Government to be more ambitious in its plans to reduce carbon footprint of new homes, improve the build quality and provide the good homes local families need to live in, Mr Thomas said: “To own a home is an amazing thing; it gives a sense of security, builds community and provides opportunity, so we should absolutely continue to do all we can to ensure that people can own a home.
“We have seen an enormous rush of people buying a home in Cornwall because they have seen it as the place to be not just during the recent restrictions but for the whole year.
“That is nothing new. We could build all the homes that the country could cope with, but the people who need them would not necessarily get them. That is absolutely the case in Cornwall.”
To address this, Mr Thomas suggests that local authorities should be given the power to support local people so that they have first access to new homes once they are built and highlighted the Right to Buy model.
This gives people a discounted rent for a period after which they have the opportunity to buy the freehold of that property, and in return, some models offer them help towards their deposit.
“The truth is that where places such as Cornwall have a long waiting list for social and affordable housing, the working families are very low on that list,” he added.
“Working families who rent their property and who could benefit from the rent-to-buy model find themselves paying very high rents. That is often what drives the kind of poverty and deprivation that we see in Cornwall.”
Although supported by the Treasury and the Prime Minister, Cornwall Council has consistently refused to allow the Right to Buy model to be available to working families in Cornwall (although the Council has accepted that about 800 homes would have been built for local families through this scheme) and Mr Thomas called for the new planning legislation to ensure that in future families are able to access such schemes.