Sussex councils given millions in bonuses for building new homes

The Argus: Student housing under construction at the old Co-op building in London Road this year Student housing under construction at the old Co-op building in London Road this year

Sussex councils have been given millions of pounds in bonuses as a reward for building thousands of new homes.

The Government’s New Homes Bonus scheme rewards local authorities for delivering newly-built homes, conversions and bringing empty homes back into use.

By matching council tax raised from new properties, the aim is that town hall bosses have more cash for further developments.

The top recipient in Sussex is Brighton and Hove City Council, which has pocketed £6.25 million since the programme began in 2011, including a payment of £2.67 million for 2014/15.

Government figures show 2,018 new homes were built in Brighton and Hove since 2011, in addition to 128 empty homes brought into use.

This figure is set to grow, as last week the Government ordered the city council to find even more space to build 20,000 new homes

But despite the cash boost, some claim that officials have been using the money to shore up other parts of its squeezed budget.

Mary Mears, a Conservative councillor on Brighton and Hove, said: “We have a housing shortage in this city. We are desperate for redevelopment and new homes in Brighton and Hove.

“But the money is going into the council’s General Fund and not being used for what it should be used for – driving further development.”

The local authority has not commented at the time of publication.

Elsewhere to date, Arun District Council has been given £6.18 million; Mid Sussex £5.3 million; Lewes £2.7 million; Worthing £2.2 million; Eastbourne £2 million; Hastings £1.96 million; and Arun £1.3 million.

Housing minister Kris Hopkins said councils were free to spend the cash “how they liked”.

He said: “Top-down Regional Strategies and eco-towns failed hardworking families who aspired to own their own home, and built nothing but resentment.

“In stark contrast, councils have received over £2 billion for their part in getting Britain building, and leading to housing construction reaching its highest levels for seven years.”

Despite the good news, the bonus looks set to stop as the Government top slice the pot and divert it towards Local Enterprise Partnerships.

Councillor Jonathan Ash-Edwards, of Mid Sussex District Council, said: “The level of New Homes Bonus we receive will change each year, so we cannot rely on it to fund council services.”

He added the extra cash was being used to support one-off projects, such as funding grants for the disabled to improve their housing.

Comments (4)

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11:57am Wed 18 Dec 13

Hove Actually says...

I know for a fact that the greens have used this money to pay for the reprogramming of their own councillors who refuse to stick to the 20mph speed limit that isuniversally ignored by everyone
I know for a fact that the greens have used this money to pay for the reprogramming of their own councillors who refuse to stick to the 20mph speed limit that isuniversally ignored by everyone Hove Actually

12:08pm Wed 18 Dec 13

kopite_rob says...

How about reclaiming the £15.8 million in outstanding Council tax arrears that is owed in Brighton?
That would go some way to shoring up the deficit.
How about reclaiming the £15.8 million in outstanding Council tax arrears that is owed in Brighton? That would go some way to shoring up the deficit. kopite_rob

7:17pm Wed 18 Dec 13

Brighton1000 says...

kopite_rob wrote:
How about reclaiming the £15.8 million in outstanding Council tax arrears that is owed in Brighton?
That would go some way to shoring up the deficit.
Yes push more people into poverty, amazing money saving idea, A council that waste millions on vanity projects, lets target the people who cannot afford the council tax bill. You're a smart cookie arent you!
[quote][p][bold]kopite_rob[/bold] wrote: How about reclaiming the £15.8 million in outstanding Council tax arrears that is owed in Brighton? That would go some way to shoring up the deficit.[/p][/quote]Yes push more people into poverty, amazing money saving idea, A council that waste millions on vanity projects, lets target the people who cannot afford the council tax bill. You're a smart cookie arent you! Brighton1000

7:51pm Wed 18 Dec 13

Valerie Paynter says...

This city has a lot of either leasehold or freehold property which is owned by people who do not live here. They are second homes which sit empty for most of the year or even for years on end. The flat opposite mine is one such.
This city has a lot of either leasehold or freehold property which is owned by people who do not live here. They are second homes which sit empty for most of the year or even for years on end. The flat opposite mine is one such. Valerie Paynter

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