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East Lancashire's housing outrage
‘PALTRY’ amounts as low as £5,000 have been awarded to East Lancashire councils from a national pot of £200million.
East Lancashire councils have received some of the lowest amounts in the UK under the government’s New Homes Bonus scheme.
The scheme rewards councils where a lot of building development has taken place, with between £5m and £1m handed out to numerous councils in the UK.
Hyndburn is at the very bottom of the league, with just £5,320 awarded as it falls below the Isles of Scilly in terms of new development.
Other East Lancashire councils also received some of the lowest amounts on the list after a low period in rates of house building.
Chorley Council is to be awarded £739,008, Burnley £240,208, Pendle £179,420, Ribble Valley £170,723, Rossendale £73,085, and Blackburn with Darwen £58,272.
In contrast, Tower Hamlets, in London, will receive £5.9m, Hackney £4.4m, Islington £3.5m, and Cornwall £3.4m.
Hyndburn MP Graham Jones has slammed the amounts as ‘paltry’. He said: “The New Homes Bonus is taking money from local councils in huge cuts and then redistributing it to southern councils. The real-ity is local councils do not build houses.
“It is disgraceful that this government is targeting poor areas, where they know they won’t have to pay out grants. They know that boroughs like ours do not have huge housing demand.”
Just two years ago, East Lancashire councils were accustomed to seeing millions every year through Elevate housing market renewal funding. When axed in 2010, the scheme had seen £317m spent since 2003 on 7,500 homes in East Lancashire.
At its height in 2008, Blackburn with Darwen was given £12.6m, Burnley £14.4m, Hyndburn £8.6m, Pendle £10.6m, and Rossendale £2.6m.
Burnley MP Gordon Birt-wistle said he felt the new scheme encouraged more house building. He added: “Of course, there is less devel-opment in Pennine Lanc-ashire, so they won’t receive the same amounts. But we have been awarded more in Burnley this year than last year because development has been taking place. That development should improve year on year.
“The old housing schemes encouraged demolition, this encourages rebuilding.”
Blackburn Council deputy leader Andy Kay said the scheme was designed with politics in mind. He said: “It’s fair if, by fair, you mean the amounts are being awar-ded per the number of new homes built. Whether that is a fair criteria is another question. Realistically it is simply seeing more wealth flooded into areas that are already doing well.”
The New Homes Bonus is paid each year for six years and is based on the amount of extra council tax revenue raised by new build homes and houses brought back into use.
Hyndburn Council deputy leader Clare Pritchard said: “It just isn’t good enough. A ‘one size fits all’ policy like this just does not work in the north of England and is redistributing everything to the south.”
This year the government is paying £229.5m, in respect of 155,000 new homes, made up of 142,000 new build prop- erties, and 13,000 long-term empty properties brought back into use. The allocat-ions include £20.3m for prov- iding 58,000 affordable homes.
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