In last month’s Homebuilding & Renovating magazine, I reported that, after a meeting with Grant Shapps at Downing St in April when I raised with him directly the issue of the burden of the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) on self-builders, he promised to look at the issue.

I felt that his response was very promising and, sure enough, in May, on a self-build industry ‘fact-finding’ mission to Almere in The Netherlands, he was reported to have confirmed that it’s his intention to exclude self-builders from having to pay CIL. When I first heard about it, I couldn’t quite believe it, and checked it with Shapps’ press office who, true to form, haven’t yet got back to me (a month or so on!). Things have all gone suspiciously quiet.

Then, I came across this. It appears that Shapps was actually filmed making the comments by our good friends at Selfbuilder TV. Meanwhile, the more people I speak to, the muddier the picture gets. A reader forwarded me on a letter sent to him in response to a query about CIL. In it, someone from the relevant Government department says: “The Government is considering all options to help as many people as possible realise their self-build ambitions, and this includes looking at financial arrangements such as the Community Infrastructure Levy.” Someone else I speak to says that there is no chance that an exemption can be made for self-build because it violates European laws.

Another prominent self-build industry person actually thinks excluding self-builders from CIL will be bad news because it means local authorities will be less encouraged to release land for self-builders if they can’t generate any revenue from it! So what is going on?

My suspicion is that we have a Government minister who genuinely wants to do anything he can to help, but is surrounded by people telling him he can’t do it. Who will win? And will Shapps come to regret his TV interview?

  • Joe Valentine

    Whats the fuss with the cil? Having development in an area costs, yes as residents you contribute but, being in a financial position to do a self build why cant people contribute to the area? The sooner people realise that property is a basic need not a snob factor or investment or status symbol the sooner we may have a balanced market in this country. The cil will become added to the market value of the property anyhow so whats the issue?

  • Anonymous

    Will it? What about people who have bought land in the past year only to find they need to pay CIL when applying for planning this year? I’m not quite sure I understand the idea about ‘being in a financial position to do a self-build’ either. The majority of self-builds are from people on average incomes trying to live in a better and bigger house than they could otherwise afford. In Australia, they give a grant to people building houses. In the UK, we expect individuals to pay often tens of thousands of pounds for the privilege. And we wonder why we don’t have enough homes.

  • Anonymous

    The CIL could amount to many thousands of £

  • Rebecca Clutton

    Goodness Joe – what a negative comment. The CIL is having a massive effect on our plans as self builders. Your comment about selfbuilders being able to afford it is quite honestly offensive. As Jason says, we are on an average income, looking to build a better home for us and our children; on a very tight budget. We live in rural Shropshire where the CIL is in force and our aim is for a 250sqm house. This will mean a CIL charge of £20,000 PLUS a contribution to affordable housing of up to £11,700. So, nearly £32k in total, all of which we never see again. How can it be added to the market value? The only way this makes sense is to look at it from the point of view as less of a profit if the property is ultimately sold – not our intention!

  • stephen geran

    Well I’ll add my 2 pence worth. I’ll add an apology upfront as I’m getting so angry with the country we live in and how good honest people have to jump through hoops to make a better life for their family. The CIL is an unfair tax on homebuilders. But I can only comment specifically on our own situation. We bought an existing equestrian business 18 months ago. We formulated a strong business plan in the depth of the financial crisis which enabled us to borrow money in very tough times. Part of that business plan dictated that with the increase in profitability of the business, a need would arise for us to live on site. So we have been going down the essential workers dwelling route. We have had planning for the mobile home and currently live in it, therefore we have already passed the functional test and now need to prove the business is viable before submitting full planning which we’ll do next year. As the house is tied to the business, this is what makes my blood boil. We pay business rates to the tune of £6000 per year which cover the contribution to local services (the business was a going concern so these "contributions" have been made for over a decade.) Since we have had the mobile home on site, we now also pay council tax (again to "contribute" to local services). Surely this is a double tax???!!!! I guess there argument would be that you can’t have your refuse collected using business rates so we pay £100’s per month to have our bins emptied??! The final straw is that despite paying £1000’s annually for business rates and £1000’s annually for council tax, we would still then have to pay tens of £1000’s when we hopefully started building the house!!!!!! Surely a triple tax!! Not to mention the fact that the amount we pay in business rates could be used to employ young people wanting apprenticeships. We also are trying to create a safe and secure future for our children. Not make a quick £, and it seems that every step of the way, the government are making things hard for the very people that fund the treasury in the first place. I am going to a local discussion about the CIL in our area this afternoon to raise my concerns (West Dorset) and I will report back with any info. Makes me angry just writing it!!

  • Antony Atkins

    Joe – CIL/S106 clearly can’t just be added to the value of the house: buyers will only pay the market price and will not take kindly to being told they have to pay an extra £20K to cover the CIL roof tax. CIL is a straight tax on housebuilders, both self-builders and developers.

    As to the argument that the money is used to improve lcoal infrastructure, why should builders of new homes be expected to pay tens of thousands of pounds, whilst local homeowners and businesses gain the benefits but don’t pay a penny towards all the new roads, playgrounds, schools and so on that are supposedly going to be built with the money? The notion that CIL is some sort of "compensation" to local people for the utter iniquity of new housing being built in their area just betrays a huge prejudice against housebuilding – utter nimbyism. Local people and businesses should be positively grateful that new people will be moving into their area: how else are the local shops going to thrive, who is going to help pay the council tax, where are businesses going to find their employees? The existing housing in an area didn’t have to pay CIL or pay for affordable homes – all the existing infrastructure and council housing was paid for from general taxation and previous generations’ rates, plus private sector investment – so why should new houses now be expected to pay for the government’s and councils’ infrastructure and social housing policies?

  • Anonymous

    Hear, hear Antony. A new housing estate was built about ten years on the site of a former school near us. All the locals hated it. This year I found myself taking my son up to the playground the developers ended up having to build as part of the S106. Classic case of new development benefitting the existing community. There is way too much tax and burden on housebuilding in this country, and it’s no coincidence that housebuilding rates are cripplingly small.

  • Graham Dawes

    What a load of idiots that govern us, one moment we are short of X million homes and the next they tax any new ones. The local authority is mostly made up of people protecting their own backends ie their jobs
    Does ANYONE really think that this Tax will add any infrastructure to the local area. I resent saving everything to pay for a new energy efficient home that I WILL BUILD with my hands, only to have to pay out nearly two years wages to the local authority to protect those that made the planning such a pain for two years, before being forced by an inspector to allow it. I resent all these ideas that I am rich and can afford it. As for what that idiot stated at the beginning, he must be better off than me. My build cost would go up by 50% That will stop it in its track, anyone want to buy a plot?

  • Rebecca Clutton

    Well said Graham

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