TWO Government departments were this weekend involved in a policy clash which could prove "disastrous" for plans to increase the number of affordable homes for sale or rent in the Yorkshire Dales, according to one local housing expert.
In dispute are plans from the Treasury to allow wealthy individuals to buy property for rent or as holiday homes as part of their private pension plans - a move which would allow higher rate income tax payers to claim back 40% on any property acquired.
This is in direct conflict to the policy of the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, which is trying to restrict the sale of homes in popular rural areas to local people, who are being forced out by soaring property prices driven up by wealthy second home owners.
If the plan comes into effect as planned by the Treasury next April, it will mean that a local wanting to buy a £100,000 home - which is less than half the average price in the area - would have to compete against an outsider who in real terms would pay only £60,000.
The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority is one of the bodies pioneering the "locals only" scheme and one insider there told Daelnet: "This would be an absolute disaster. The Treasury obviously haven't thought it through."
When the news broke on Friday, YDNPA Chief Executive David Butterworth issued a strongly worded statement demanding that the Treasury and Defra get together to tackle the issue.
He commented: "This policy would have a serious knock-on effect in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, where the authority decided to change the planning rules earlier this year in an effort to provide more affordable housing for local people.
"The Treasury, in effect, will negate everything we have tried to do to help local people stay in the towns and villages where they were brought up by enabling them to afford to buy their own home.
"Of the 10,300 homes within the Yorkshire Dales National Park, 15 per cent are already registered as second homes or holiday lets. This proposal means that people with a decent amount of money to invest from their pensions will, in effective, receive a subsidy to buy the limited housing stock in attractive areas like the national park."