The Spring Budget is due to be announced on 11 March 2020, will the Community Housing Fund be affected?

The big question for the community-led housing sector is whether an announcement will be made about the extension of the Community Housing Fund.

The Community Housing Fund has been instrumental in launching new community-led housing schemes over the past four years. With over 16,600 new community-led homes in the pipeline, the sector can make a small but significant contribution towards solving the housing crisis.

The fund has been a huge success in many ways but it would represent a huge waste of government funding to pay out for dozens of groups to develop plans and achieve planning permission only for the capital funding to not be in place to actually build the affordable homes our country desperately needs.

There are groups up and down the country who are in similar positions and we are working closely with them and the National CLT Network to lobby for the fund to be extended.

The National CLT Network is urging its members and supporters to campaign for the Community Housing Fund to be extended. The current Government committed to supporting community housing in its manifesto, along with a pledge to build 300,000 new homes a year by the mid-2020s. Extending the Community Housing Fund would be a meaningful way of making good on those promises.

What does this mean for YorSpace?

Our first development at Lowfield Green to deliver 19 forever affordable homes for local people with Lowfield Green Housing Co-op needs capital funding from this grant programme in order to achieve our affordability targets. Capital funding from the Community Housing Fund is needed so that every member of our community, some who have volunteered for several years to develop the plans, can access affordable homes - demonstrating that living in supportive and sustainable communities can be accessible to people on all incomes.

We've recently been successful in generating over £422,000 of investment through our Community Share Offer in order to finalise our plans and buy the land. We are, you could say, oven ready... However, we now need this extension to be announced, and hope that the Chancellor will do so in next week’s budget. We have been waiting for over 12 months for the announcement of the extension that we've been consistently reassured "it's coming.." .

Our innovative Mutual Home Ownership (MHO) model can only be funded through the Community Housing Funding stream as MHO is too unusual to qualify for the regular Affordable Housing Fund available from Homes England. It is therefore essential for our project that this new form of affordable ownership, a first for York, is supported through this programme. The housing crisis needs innovation to solve it and what we are doing needs government support to do it.

How can I help?

To take part in the campaign, you can download template letters to send to your MP from the NCLTN's website here. We are also asking supporters to promote the campaign via communication channels, including social media... YorSpace and the Lowfield Green Housing Co-op are working hard to get our voice heard and have everything crossed that we will be able to start building this summer..