Labour Party hopeful calling for 'Scottish-style' solution to Whitby's housing problems

The lack of affordable homes for first time buyers and a council tax loophole for landlords are both issues Labour hopeful Alison Hume wants to tackle if she gets elected to represent Whitby andScarborough as MP.
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“Currently, there is a loophole for second homeowners to avoid paying the council tax by simply changing their residence to a business and then letting out the property via schemes like Airbnb,” said Alison.

“This is really hitting coastal areas like Whitby and Scarborough hard.

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"Also, local authority funding is likely to be under increased pressure with the introduction of the new North Yorkshire Council at the beginning of April which makes it even more important to stop landlords exploiting the system.”

Alison Hume, who is standing for selection as the Labour candidate for Scarborough and Whitby.Alison Hume, who is standing for selection as the Labour candidate for Scarborough and Whitby.
Alison Hume, who is standing for selection as the Labour candidate for Scarborough and Whitby.

Current rules say properties need to be available for at least 140 days a year and let for at least 70.

North Yorkshire County Councillors voted to double the council tax back in November in a bid to swell council coffers by up to £14m across North Yorkshire, with more than half of that being raised in the borough.

“It’s critical we ensure that money is ringfenced for the area and put towards helping local people find good quality local housing,” she said.

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The National Housing Federation says there are at least 8,199 second homes in North Yorkshire, the highest number in the Yorkshire and Humber region.

Last year, Whitby held an unofficial referendum on the subject with 97.5% of voters wanting to ban investors from snapping up local property.

“House prices in Whitby have now topped £250,000, pricing many first-time buyers and local people out of the Whitby and district market,” said Alison.

“This will have a devastating impact on social and economic development, forcing young families to move away putting pressure on the labour market.”

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York Central MP Rachael Maskell recently brought a Private Members’ Bill before Parliament calling for tighter regulation of short-term holidays lets such as Airbnb.

She says she’s concerned about villages hollowed out by holiday let investors and second home owners, and urban streets that are now party streets.

“What’s worse is that those living in the private rented sector are being turfed out of their homes to make way for holiday-makers while landlords sit back and watch their profits rise,” said Alison.

“Where are NHS staff, social care workers, teachers, hospitality workers going to live?”

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Alison is calling for a Scottish-style solution where landlords would require a licence to operate, and local authorities are granted regulatory permissions to verify the accommodations’ safety for guests and to ensure the well-being of the local community.

“The aim of this law follows the same premises as seen in other European countries: restrict the growing number of short-term lets without safety and quality control, especially in areas where they are affecting the local balance and the availability of housing,” said Alison.

“This works as a guarantee of housing quality and protects both guests and owners from other issues.”

Alison Hume is standing for selection as the Labour candidate for Scarborough and Whitby and will find out at the end of March if she’s successful.