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Second home and holiday let owners encouraged to give back to Cumbria’s communities

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 and more details on the Cumbria Home from Home Fund can be found on the Foundation’s website

To make a donation to the Cumbria Home from Home Fund, visit here. 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.

Ambitious new five year plan launched

Cumbria Community Foundation has been providing a helping hand to the people of Cumbria for more than 20 years.

The money we raise through the support of our generous donors funds the grants that we distribute to charities and voluntary groups across Cumbria. Those charities and groups provide a lifeline to many people and the grants help them to continue and expand their vital work.

Since 1999, we’ve distributed over £60 million in grants to more than 4,000 organisations and 8,000 individuals in Cumbria, funding a variety of projects; improving access to mental health support, advice and guidance for those in financial hardship, increasing employability and training opportunities, supporting early intervention and education programmes, food provision, tackling homelessness and ensuring young people can access youth clubs.

We’re proud of what has been achieved to date but, knowing that there is always more to be done, we launched our ambitious new five year strategy yesterday.

To respond to the needs in our communities, we aim to grow our sustained long-term grant making to a minimum of £6 million per year by 2028. To do that, we plan to increase awareness of the work we do and inspire more people, families, businesses and larger companies and institutions to donate through the Foundation, which can then be channelled to where needs are most pressing in the county.

Our new five year strategy is timely. It is being launched in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis that hit while we were all still recovering from the social and economic challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic. Living standards and life expectancy are falling, and needs are increasing.

It goes without saying that living in Cumbria has some serious upsides. We’ve got a World Heritage Status landscape with good people who look out for each other. But life in the county can also, for many people, be really tough. Our beautiful landscape hides intense poverty and lack of opportunity, all of which is exacerbated by rural isolation and lack of access to services.

We know our county very well. We commission and produce research reports to identify the issues facing communities in Cumbria and also their strengths. Using evidence-based data and insights, we will produce further reports to evidence local need, shed a spotlight on issues that need addressed, and ensure everyone can achieve their potential.

There are a number of different ways people and businesses can give back to their community through the Foundation – one off or regular donations, a membership scheme, legacy gifts, hosting fundraising events to name a few. Our current core of supporters have helped build an endowment of over £26 million which helps ensure community projects are supported for the long term. With new supporters working alongside current fundholders and partners, the plan is to build that endowment to £40 million over the next five years.

We’re determined to improve the lives of local residents and strengthen communities. We want to ensure that Cumbria is a place where needs are met, and everyone can reach their potential.

Read our new five year strategy.

If you’d like to get involved, contact us by sending an email or calling 01900 825760.