Luke Pollard MP Member of Parliament for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport
First Homes Not Second Homes
It’s time to put first homes first and second homes second.
Devon and Cornwall have seen a huge surge in homes being flipped into second houses, holiday lets and Airbnbs since the pandemic hit. Our communities are being hollowed out – putting our already limited housing stock under strain, forcing local people out of our region, and driving up house prices to unsustainable levels. It’s no wonder that the South West has the highest prices compared to the average income in the country.
In Cornwall, there are many communities where more than one third of properties are being used as holiday lets and second homes, including St. Minver Lowlands, St. John, St. Minver Highlands, and St. Merryn. In Plymouth alone, around 8,000 households are waiting for social housing according to Shelter.
I launched my first proposal for “First Homes not Second Homes” in December 2021, developed in conjunction with Cllr Jayne Kirkham who leads the Labour Group on Cornwall Council, and Cllr Tudor Evans OBE, who is the Leader of the Opposition on Plymouth City Council. It’s a five-point, radical plan to fix our broken housing market by clamping down on second homes, Airbnbs, and holiday lets.
We welcome people investing and enjoying our region, but we must ensure that local people are not priced and pushed out of their communities.
Cllr Jayne Kirkham, Leader of the Labour Group on Cornwall Council said:
“In Cornwall we are seeing a collapse of the private rented sector and a dearth of affordable housing causing homelessness. It also creates a barrier to keyworkers coming to fill vital NHS, care, and other jobs cross Cornwall. Since the pandemic, and the surge in domestic tourism we have seen local families evicted across the South West to see their homes turned into second homes and Airbnbs.”
Cllr Tudor Evans OBE, Leader of the Opposition on Plymouth City Council added:
“The rise of Airbnb is impacting on well-run and properly regulated hotels and guest houses. Recovering from the pandemic is difficult enough in this part of the world and for the tourism sector in particular. Councils are powerless to stop the effects of Airbnb on the industry. We need rules, we need regulations and we need to fund the industry at this time of crisis.
The First Homes not Second Homes Manifesto calls for:
- New powers from government for councils to progressively raise taxes on holiday lets and unused second homes, up to a quadrupling of council tax where homes are left empty for much of the year.
- A licensing regime for second homes, Airbnbs and holiday lets – with a minimum of 51% of homes in any community being for local people. Councils should have the powers to raise this level to reflect local circumstances.
- A “Last Shop in the Village Fund” – powers for local councils to introduce a Community Infrastructure Levy on holiday lets and Airbnbs, administered by local authorities, to support local shops, pharmacies, post offices, and pubs.
- A commitment to build affordable homes and social housing across the South West with a priority for local people
- A discount lock-in for future renters and buyers to ensure affordable homes are not lost after the first family moves on.
It’s time to ensure every family has a home that’s decent quality and affordable.