Thursday, 30 September 2010

Housing: Chaos at the Top on funding New Homes Bonus Scheme

 Graham Jones asked Grant Shapps, Tory Housing Minister:

“What proportion of the council tax allowance for each unit of new build housing district councils will receive under the New Homes Bonus Scheme in the first six years of its operation; and to which bodies, and in what proportion, the remainder of the allowance will be allocated.”

The Minister’s response was:

“The Government is committed to increasing housing supply and seeing more of the homes that people want, in the places that people want them, to meet Britain’s housing need. The previous Government’s policy of centralist top down targets clearly failed. The New Homes Bonus will shift power back into the hands of individuals, communities and councils and give local communities a direct and substantial share in growth rather than just absorbing the costs.”

The Government‘s decision not to answer the question and to instead side-step it entirely has only served to fuel the already growing confusion over exactly how the New Homes Bonus Scheme would operate. The scheme would offer councils in England extra money for every newly-built home, as part of a government programme aimed at easing housing shortages.

Under the New Homes Bonus scheme the government will match the council tax raised on each new house for six years, meaning that councils would have a greater incentive to build new homes.

However for dual-tier authorities like Hyndburn Council, the Government has yet to explain exactly how the bonus would be split. It appears that they are not too sure themselves either.

Graham Jones MP: “Unless Councils are certain that they will receive 100% of the bonus  then the scheme is instead likely to serve as a disincentive to Councils building new homes.”

“If the Government is truly committed to tackling the UK’s housing problems and meeting Britain’s housing needs, then it needs to provide clarity to the housing sector; something which is severely lacking at the moment.