Housing Minister Kris Hopkins today (16 December 2013) published details of the latest New Homes Bonus payments being made to England’s 353 councils, in recognition of their contribution to building new homes. Official figures last week from the Office for National Statistics showed that housing construction has risen to its highest levels since 2007.
Under the New Homes Bonus, councils have been rewarded for delivering 550,000 newly-built homes and conversions and brought 93,000 empty homes back into use. This total also includes over 160,000 affordable homes.
Mr Hopkins said these payments are finally giving communities a reason to say yes to new sustainable development – with councils free to spend the money as they see fit to benefit the local area, including freezing Council Tax.
Housing Minister Kris Hopkins said:
Top-down regional strategies and eco-towns failed hardworking families who aspired to own their own home, and built nothing but resentment.
In stark contrast, councils have received over £2 billion for their part in getting Britain building, and leading to housing construction reaching its highest levels for 7 years.
And they are free to spend the money any way they like to benefit their local communities – whether that’s supporting frontline services, providing new facilities or freezing Council Tax.
Communities Minister Stephen Williams also welcomed the number of empty homes being brought back into productive use. He said:
The government is doing everything possible to tackle the problem of empty homes and urban blight, and the New Homes Bonus is a shot in the arm for councils tackling the problem of abandoned homes and urban blight locally.
The number of long term empty homes has already fallen by 93,000 and we are now going further, giving councils the incentive to bring people, shops and jobs back to once abandoned areas, and to provide extra affordable homes we so badly need.
Seeing the benefits of local growth
The New Homes Bonus is a powerful, simple and transparent incentive designed to reward councils and communities for helping to build more homes. It match funds the additional Council Tax raised for new homes and empty properties brought back into use for 6 years – with extra funding for new affordable homes.
Councils across the country have made the most of this additional funding to ensure their communities directly see the benefits of growth in their areas. This includes:
South Lakeland District Council has approved grants totalling almost £80,000 to support projects identified by organisations across the district such as improving footpaths, renovating buildings, and enhancing play areas
Test Valley Borough Council is delivering a new £140,000 urban sports facility for Andover, funded by a mix of developer contributions and the New Homes Bonus; it has also launched a £300,000 community asset initiative, funded from the bonus, to support community-led projects