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?