On Friday The Coalition launched the consultation for the new homes bonus scheme. This is a totally flawed gimmick that will hit the north hard. It will hit the construction industry hard.
In simple terms, East Lancashire's population is declining very slightly. The proposal pays an allowance from the government to the council for each new additional house built. Why would the Council build new houses?
The problem is exacerbated with the decision that demolitions are knocked off any new build total.
In other words, one demolition and one new build means a net gain of none and therefore no New Homes Bonus payments. Funding for this comes from removing funding from all councils in the CSR, with the intention to give it back as a reward to those that build new homes.
Council's clearly won't be able to afford to demolish excess unwanted housing stock or face reductions in New Homes Bonus payments, in effect they will be paid via a perverse incentives to keep properties boarded up.
If the population is not increasing they clearly can't be brought back into use. Hyndburn with Haslingden has 2500 empties currently. And any new house building, encouraged by this scheme, will in effect leave more empties.
There is a risk that Haslingden and Hyndburn will in 10 years time, have rows of boarded up homes unless there is scheme change or, Council leaders accept the prudence and austerity of no new builds.
I will tonight be confronting Grant Shapps, housing minister with this conundrum.