IF you happen to be lucky enough to own a second home or rent out a holiday cottage in the Yorkshire Dales you could be forgiven for sometimes feeling you are Public Enemy No 1.

Despite the fact that your idyllic bolthole in one of the most beautiful areas of the UK helps to sustain a tourism industry worth many millions of pounds and employing thousands of people, the simple fact of your ownership is credited with the slow death of Dales communities.

The trouble is that second home ownership in the villages in Swaledale and Wensleydale is a contributory factor in the decline of many of those communities. A village where more than half the homes are not occupied for large parts of the year is just not sustainable.

Shops, pubs and other businesses cannot survive on seasonal trade alone. School rolls will fall if there are no families living in the locality and bus services dwindle because there are not enough people using them year round. There are major implications for the complete range of health, social and educational services.

Crucially, second home ownership can distort housing markets, making homes less affordable for the young people who, ultimately, are the lifeblood of the Dales. If they move away, it makes those Dales communities even less sustainable. It’s a vicious circle.

As in many things we need a balance and, in short, we need more homes for local people in the Dales and the North York Moors. Which is why I was pleased that Ministers have listened to MPs from areas like ours with lots of second homes. It is something I have specifically raised with the Housing Minister in Parliament. The Government has taken on board our concerns and announced a new programme to help – the £300m Community Housing Fund.

Richmondshire and Hambleton District Councils are to receive almost £700,000 from the Government to get more homes built in the areas most affected by second home ownership.

The new programme is funded from the higher rates of Stamp Duty land tax on additional purchases of residential property announced in the 2016 Budget. In other words, the cash to fund more housebuilding in the affected areas is being sourced from those fortunate enough to afford a second home and I think that is entirely right.

The money is being distributed to local councils in proportion to the number of second homes in their area. Richmondshire has almost 1,000 second homes and so it receives £493,000 to work with partners like housing associations and local communities to get schemes off the ground quickly.

Having spoken to the leader of Richmondshire District Council, Cllr Yvonne Peacock, I understand there are a number of schemes “on the stocks” in the Yorkshire Dales which need just a bit more money to make viable and this money should make all the difference.