Labour Councillors have called on Westminster Council to use the £8.25 million it will receive in 2014/15 from the Government from the New Homes Bonus to build new social housing.
The New Homes Bonus is a grant paid by central government to local councils for increasing the number of homes. The New Homes Bonus is paid each year for 6 years. It is based on the amount of extra Council Tax revenue raised for new-build homes, conversions and long-term empty homes brought back into use. There is also an extra payment for providing affordable homes.
According to the Government figures, 828 new homes were given planning permission last year of which only 82 were affordable homes.
Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg, Leader of the Labour Group, said;
There is a clear need for more social housing in Westminster to meet the pressing need from the 1,000 local families living in overcrowded conditions. Since the New Homes Bonus was introduced Westminster has received millions of pounds in New Homes Bonus but none of it has ever been spent on building new social housing. With another £8 million available it would be criminal not to spend it building new social rent homes
Labour say that the Council is under a duty to consult residents on the use of the New Homes Bonus as the Government says;
Local councils can decide how to spend the New Homes Bonus. However, we expect local councils to consult communities about how they will spend the money, especially communities where housing stock has increased.
Councillor Dimoldenberg said
We have now doubt that if residents were consulted on the use of this £8 million they would chose more social rent housing as the top priority. What are the Conservatives afraid of? Why don’t they ask the people? Why don’t they trust residents to decide how to spend this money?