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Sussex councils get £65m boost for revitalising homes
Councils are set to receive £65 million over the next five years as a reward for bringing empty properties back into use.
Under the Government’s New Homes Bonus, councils across the county are set for a major funding boost from the Government as an incentive to increase their housing stock either by bringing back empty properties into use or building new homes.
Councils are rewarded for increasing their housing with the Government matching the additional council tax raised for the following six years with extra incentives for affordable homes.
Wealden District Council are the biggest beneficiary from the funding rules with the authority set to receive £8 million between now and 2017/18.
The rural district, which has a current housing stock of 65,000 and 526 empty homes, will receive £2.5 million more over the next five years than Brighton and Hove which has almost four times as many homes and twice as many empty properties.
Adur District Council, which has an estimated need of 160 affordable homes built every year, will receive just over £1.2 million over the same period.
The funds given to the council are flexible and not ring-fenced meaning authorities are free to spend the money as they see fit.
Paul Spedding, Worthing and Adur’s executive head of housing, health and community safety, said that the funding from the new homes bonus was just a “flea bite” in relation to the social housing need.
He said the system rewarded councils with large areas of land to develop or plenty of empty homes to bring back into use.
He added: “Some councils are better advantaged than others in this system but that’s just the way of Government funding and we have to work with what we have got.”
A Brighton and Hove City Council spokesman said the council’s empty property team turned at least 150 empty private sector properties back into homes each year and the authority had recently successfully bid for £675,000 Government funding to bring more long-term empty private sector homes back into use over the next three years.
Councillor Garry Wall, leader of Mid Sussex District Council said demand for affordable housing is very high and that the allocation of £720,000 for affordable housing would go a long way towards providing affordable homes for those in most need.
He added: “The way central Government funds local councils is changing significantly and while the New Homes Bonus is welcome, it is only one important part of how the district council is funded.”