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Councils receive £3.4bn bonus

Words: Laura Edgar

Housing minister Brandon Lewis has confirmed that councils have received nearly £3.4 billion for building more than 800,000 homes, delivered through the New Homes Bonus.

Since the introduction of the bonus in April 2011, more than 700,000 homes have been built. Additionally, 100,000 long-term empty properties have been brought back into use.

Councils are able to spend the bonus in a way to benefit the local area, including to freeze council tax.

Lewis said the figures demonstrated that more communities are agreeing to new developments after planning reforms have put power back into the hands of local people, with 240,000 planning permissions granted in September.

In the year to October 2014 councils have also helped to provide 154,000 new-builds and conversions, 42,000 of which are affordable, and brought 10,000 empty homes back into use. In recognition of this, Lewis has provisionally allocated an additional £1.2 billion for councils through the bonus.

Lewis said: “We’ve got the country building again and given local communities control over where new homes go in their area. This is in stark contrast to the housing crash and failed top-down regional strategies of the last government.”

Communities minister Stephen Williams added: “I’m delighted to see the number of long-term empty homes going down with 100,000 being brought back into use.

“But I want councils to go even further, and use the range of powers we’ve put in their hands to end the blight of empty properties in our neighbourhoods and bring them back into productive use for the families who need the stability and security new homes can provide.”

The RTPI has explained: "The New Homes Bonus has positive and negative impacts on local authorities, as a result of the fact that if it is funded from a fixed total for local government, there are winners and losers. It has been regarded by 49 per cent of local authority planning officers as a powerful incentive for many councils in helping to facilitate housing growth, but on the other hand only 10 per cent of authorities agreed that the bonus had increased support for new homes within the local community. In addition, only five per cent of the bonus has been a significant factor in public consultation and discussion in local plans (taken from the New Homes Bonus evaluation report)."

Image courtesy of the DCLG