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Monday, 24 November 2014

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Too few new homes sees area lose out

SOUTH Lakeland is missing out on extra government cash because not enough new homes are being built in the area every year, a report has revealed.

Figures show the district nets the fifth lowest amount in New Homes Bonus grant in the country.

Under the scheme, authorities are awarded a pot of money from Whitehall for each new property constructed in its area equivalent to the amount due in council tax annually for six years.

The sum is increased for each affordable property completed. The news has led district council bosses to claim South Lakeland is at a “considerable disadvantage” because too few homes are being built every year.

The authority’s controversial local plan sets out an aim for 400 extra properties to be constructed annually until 2025.

South Lakeland District Council leader and finance boss, Councillor Peter Thornton, said: “There is a perception that we are building a lot of homes here, but that’s not true.

“We haven’t built a huge amount over the past few years – other areas are building a lot more. South Lakeland isn’t ahead on this compared to a lot of places around the country.”

SLDC received £358,000 in New Homes Bonus cash for 2013/14. The figure was up on the previous year when the authority banked £230,000.

By the end of 2015, it is expected that £2.2bn will have been paid out to councils across the country for around 550,000 new homes.

SLDC uses the money it receives to help fund affordable housing schemes as well as locally-important infrastructure projects.

Cllr Thornton added: “Councils are not told what to do with this money but we ring-fence it for new affordable properties. This way, if the amount goes down, the council’s budget is not affected.”

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