It has been a year since the Cumbria Home from Home Fund was set up to provide a way for holiday let and second homeowners to give back to the communities where their properties are located.
The initiative was developed by Cumbria Community Foundation in response to growing concerns about the impact of second homes and holiday lets in the county.
As the 2023 holiday season gets underway, the Foundation explains why the Fund was created and how people can support it.
An increase in the number of second homes and holiday lets is a double-edged sword for Cumbria’s economy and communities. Holiday lets attract tourists to the county and those tourists spend money in our communities. But they also reduce the number of people able to live locally and begin to erode the fabric of communities.
This has a knock-on effect on other tourist facing businesses, particularly in the hospitality industry, who struggle to find local employees.
Westmorland and Furness Council covers most of the Lake District where it is estimated that up to a quarter of homes may be owned by non-residents. The council voted in March 2023 to double the council tax bills of second homeowners. However, that increase will only apply to those who do not let their house out for the minimum number of days to qualify as a holiday let.
Holiday lets do not pay council tax as they qualify for business rates (and most do not pay business rates as they qualify for relief). This leaves local councils with less revenue to pay for local services and holiday let owners with a windfall of no council tax or business rates to pay.
Andy Beeforth OBE, CEO of Cumbria Community Foundation, commented: “The beauty of the Lake District often disguises the fact that too many of our residents are experiencing hardship. The significant increase in the number of holiday lets in the past few years has reduced the availability of housing for local people as well as reducing the council tax revenue which pays for local services.
“It seems only right that some of the windfall that holiday let owners receive from not paying council tax or business rates should find its way back into the local communities that host their holiday let properties. The Cumbria Home from Home Fund is the perfect mechanism for this.”
Donations to the Cumbria Home from Home Fund support projects in and around the Lake District that foster a strong sense of community, encourage social connections and improve wellbeing. Funds have contributed to a number of projects including provision of a warm hub in Grasmere, kitchen facilities for a village hall near Kirkby Lonsdale and an art installation featuring 15,000 ceramic daffodils at Lowther Castle.
Wherever possible, donations to the fund are distributed in the town or in the vicinity of the property so that donors can be assured that their money is being returned to the communities that host their property.
To highlight the need for this Fund and how holiday and second homeowners can get involved, the Foundation has produced a short video which can be found here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=czPlkAgSChE and more details on the Cumbria Home from Home Fund can be found on the Foundation’s website www.cumbriafoundation.org/cumbria-home-from-home-fund/
To make a donation to the Cumbria Home from Home Fund, visit: https://cumbriafoundation.enthuse.com/cf/cumbria-home-from-home-fund. All donations are welcome and will go to supporting Cumbria’s communities.
We suggest a minimum annual donation of £500 for properties that sleep up to 6 people, £1000 for those that sleep up to 10, and £1500 for those that sleep 11 and above.