Government grant to be spent on more homes in Worcester

Evesham Journal: Worcester City Council says more house building is possible Worcester City Council says more house building is possible

THE man in charge of Worcester City Council’s finances says more house building is vital – and insists that the authority can help make it happen.

Councillor Richard Boorn, who has helped draw up the 2014/15 budget, says Worcester has a “real opportunity” to reduce the social housing waiting list.

As your Worcester News revealed in August, the city council decided to dramatically purge its waiting list by 47 per cent. After writing to 4,500 homes to ask people to confirm if they wanted to remain on the list, it shrank to 2,393.

The Labour leadership has decided that it will use one third of Worcester’s new homes bonus cash – a government grant paid to the city for encouraging development – towards building more properties.

The grant is worth £1.3 million in 2014/15, with the remaining two-thirds going towards measures designed to boost the economy and regeneration schemes.

There was concern the Government was considering giving some new homes bonus cash to local enterprise partnerships instead, but that idea has been scrapped.

Coun Boorn, the cabinet member for finance, said: “When the Government said they were thinking of ‘top-slicing’ the new homes bonus cash it did put us under some pressure, but now we know after the autumn statement that won’t be happening.

“When we set ourselves a target of 100 new affordable homes in Worcester and build 102, we all say ‘well done’, but in reality to keep up with demand we’ve got to build 400 a year.

“This new homes bonus money gives us an opportunity to start adding a lot more to that target. There’s plenty of work to do but we’re taking measures to help address this, and that’s down to our willingness to help create more social housing.”

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The Government is expected to keep on giving councils new homes bonus cash until at least 2020, and it can be spent in whatever way each local authority chooses.

The draft budget requires a vote at full council in February.

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