Affordable homes scheme


WIGAN Council will be given a bonus of almost £3million to build more houses in the borough as part of a government scheme.

The authority will be allocated a further £2.97m in 2014/15 through the New Homes Bonus, which is an 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 six years – with extra funding for new affordable homes.

The new fund takes the overall pot of money the council has received from the government since the scheme started in 2011/12 to £7.43m.

Details of how many extra homes this would create are yet to be discussed, but the council’s Core Strategy announced that it plans to build around 2,000 new properties in Standish, Lowton and Golborne, to help meet future housing needs.

Steve Normington, Wigan Council director of economy and skills, said: “The New Homes Bonus is Government fiscal incentive to encourage local authorities to facilitate housing growth.

“The scheme provides local authorities with a financial payment equal to the national average for the council tax band on each additional property, either constructed or brought back into use, and is paid for the following six years.

“We use the grant in Wigan to stimulate housing delivery and bring empty homes back into use. This includes initiatives such infrastructure investment to remove barriers to housing delivery. As the grant is not ring-fenced, not all councils use the grant in this in way and many absorb it into general funds.”

The value of the grant is linked to council tax band D and then adjusted as a proportion for tax bands higher or lower than D.

Currently, the amount of grant relating to an additional council tax band D property is £1,439 per annum or £8,634 over six years.

In addition, local authorities receive an additional £350 for each affordable home (ie those for social rent or for shared ownership/equity) provided for the following six years.

Across England, councils have received more than £2bn through the New Homes Bonus since it was set up in 2011/12 for helping to provide 550,000 more houses. Councils in Greater Manchester will be allocated a £34.8m bonus next year for enabling more than 17,000 new properties to be built in the county.

The 2014/15 fund means Greater Manchester will have received £84.9m over a four year period for helping to provide 17,081 newly-built homes and conversions, and bringing 10,173 empty buildings back into use.

These figures also include 5,409 affordable homes.

Housing Minister Kris Hopkins said: “Councils have received more than £2bn for their part in getting Britain building, and leading to housing construction reaching its highest levels for seven 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.”