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SECOND HOMES COUNCIL TAX TO FUND INVESTMENT BOOST

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Another massive investment by Devon CC using second homes council tax to fund affordable homes for local people loo...
Another massive investment by Devon CC using second homes council tax to fund affordable homes for local people looks set to get the go-ahead.

And in a ground-breaking boost for local elderly and disabled people, the council is also set to announce major spending on supported housing and specialist help.

In a county where house prices have rocketed 95% since 1999 and a house costs more than eight times average earnings, and where a 30% rise in elderly aged 80 and over is predicted by 2006, affordable and supported housing are two major social issues.

Following a better than expected final funding settlement for council services in 2005/6 announced by the government last week, the council's cabinet is now being recommended to approve:

A total package, worth£4.75m, to be funded from the county council's share of the windfall council tax on second home owners in the new 2005/6 financial year.

The plan includes:

- £2.25m for general affordable housing

- £2.50m for supported housing and specialist help

The extra£2.25m would bring the county council's total investment kitty for general affordable housing available to district council housing departments across Devon to£6.25m, including£4m raised from this year's council tax on second homes.

Of a jointly agreed detailed programme of affordable homes schemes,£100,000 has so far been taken-up by district councils, so it means a massive funding pot is still to be drawn on and, if the new proposals are approved, getting bigger.

In the proposed plans for 2005/6, the county council would again reinvest the new funding for general affordable housing back into the districts from where it was raised to be spent on schemes jointly agreed with district councils.

Detailed decisions on how the new funding for supported housing and specialist help is spent will be taken when specific proposals have been identified jointly through the normal partnership groups, such as the strategic planning groups, local strategic partnerships and county-wide housing officers and social services forum.

A county council spokesman said: 'Devon CC wants to build on the success of the county's unique second homes council tax partnership and deliver real benefits to local people where they are needed most.

'We said we would give extra help for affordable housing projects if the government's final funding settlement for our mainstream public services enabled us to do so. The settlement is better than we had hoped for and it means the county council is able to bring forward ground-breaking proposals which will not only help local people in general need of affordable housing but also the more vulnerable such as the frail elderly, people with disabilities and young people who badly need better supported housing and the chance to enjoy as much independence as possible.'

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