Birmingham welcomes extra cash from Government

By on 12/11/2010 in News

Councillor John Lines, Cabinet Member for Housing at Birmingham City Council, today welcomed the government's pledge to reward communities who allow new homes to be built in their area with cash.

Almost £1bn Government funding has been set aside for councils that welcome new housing development, which they will be able to spend to benefit their local community.

Councillor Lines said: “This is wonderful news for the country. The government is sending out a clear message that new homes need to be built and the extra cash that will be available as a direct result of this will be a helpful resource to local communities.

“Birmingham is already leading the way in terms of delivering affordable homes and I'm delighted we will be rewarded with more resources the more homes we deliver- Christmas has come early for Birmingham!

“Through the Birmingham Municipal Housing Trust we will be building in excess of 600 new homes for rent and market sale over the next 18 months. This includes over 350 new rented council properties – the largest council house building scheme in Birmingham for three decades.”

In proposals that will be published for consultation, the Government will match the council tax raised from new homes for the first six years through the New Homes Bonus.

Councils and communities will work together to decide how to spend the extra funding – whether council tax discounts for local residents, boosting frontline services like rubbish collection or providing local facilities like swimming pools and leisure centres. Councils will also receive a higher level of funding for building new affordable homes.

Councillor Lines also welcomed news from Housing Minister Grant Shapps which means councils will now be able to bid for decent homes funding for the first time. Councils which still have a backlog of homes needing improvements will be able to bid for funding from a £2 billion pot announced in the spending review.

Councillor Lines said: “I welcome the Government's goodwill to local authorities. Allowing councils to bid for decent homes funding for the first time will be a huge help to local authorities struggling to meet decent homes standard.

“Here in Birmingham, 98% of our 65,000 council properties now meet the decent homes standard, a considerable improvement from 35% in 2004. By investing some £700 million of our own money we were one of the few councils to meet the previous Labour governments target for decent homes- and that was after they refused to invest a penny on the programme.

“This government is being fairer to local communities and I welcome that.”

A consultation paper published today by the Homes and Communities Agency said £1.595 billion of this money will go to making local authority social homes decent, while the rest will gap-fund existing stock transfers. The money will be allocated on the basis of need rather than performance criteria.

Ends

Further information from Belinder Kaur Lidher on 0121 303 6969

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