Wednesday, 3 November 2010

New Homes Bonus Scheme in chaos - Lobbying for concessions and clarifications

I have urged Grant Shapps, Housing Minsiter on the floor of the House of Commons to resolve the problem of removing funding from Councils, only to give it back to them as housing incentives in the New Homes Bonus Scheme.

Hyndburn Council grants planning permissions and Lancashire County Council has the biggest budget and would have seen the lions share of funding removed  funding from for example childrens services, to pay for house building in wealthier areas of Lancashire (raher than Hyndburn) where housing demand is greatest and a unfair extra hit on County Councils who fo not grant new house building permissions.

The minister has given way to a 80:20 split after lobbying. There is also the inclusion of empty homes in the New Homes Bonus Scheme is welcome so long as they are classified as affordable, with a 'national Council Tax rate' incentive rather than local rates. Also welcome is the 125% incentive on affordable homes.

Graham Jones (Hyndburn, Labour)

Will the Minister not accept that the new homes bonus scheme is in chaos?

Can he explain what the incentive will be for local planning authorities, which according to the policy that the Government have set out will receive only 15% of the receipts, with 85% being returned to the shire authorities outside unitary areas, which are not involved in the planning process?

Will the incentive be 15%, or will it be greater?

Hansard source (Citation: HC Deb, 21 October 2010, c1114)Watch this

Grant Shapps (Minister of State (Housing and Local Government), Communities and Local Government; Welwyn Hatfield, Conservative)

I am sorry that the hon. Gentleman is so confused about this. It is actually a very simple scheme, unlike ones such as the local housing delivery planning grant, which his Government used.

That was so complex that literally nobody understood it or had any idea how much money would come in.

Our scheme is simple. For every home built, there will be match funding for six years at the actual band price at which it is built. By the way, if it is affordable housing, 125% of receipts will be provided.

We will consult on the split between district and upper-tier authorities, but something like 80% is likely to go to the planning authority.

That will be a massive incentive for this country to get out and build the homes that Labour failed to build during its 13 years.