Local MP welcomes funding to encourage affordable house building – but warns council must do more to deliver

Worcester MP Robin Walker has today welcomed news of the Government’s largest-ever allocation of funding for the delivery of new homes. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government announced allocations of the New Homes Bonus for English local authorities, which will this year total over £947million.

Taken together with instalments from previous years, this brings the total amount of funding through the New Homes Bonus fund to over £7billion. Nationwide, the total number of net additional homes rewarded over the period is over 1.4 million, including more than 100,000 empty homes brought back into use and over 340,000 units of affordable housing delivered.

However, the funding allocation for Worcester City Council has fallen by more than half this year as the delivery of more affordable homes by the council has slowed. In the year to October 2017, net additions to the city’s housing stock fell to 362 from 670 the previous year, including just 11 units of affordable housing. In the same period, just 22 empty homes were brought back into use, down from 55 the previous year.

There has been a downward trend in the provision of affordable housing in the city since Labour and the Greens took control of the council in May 2016, which Robin warned of at the time. It mirrors the 30% slump in housing delivery that occurred when Labour previously took control of the council in 2012, having inherited a healthy record of affordable housebuilding from the previous Conservative administration. When the Conservatives took back control of the council in 2014, housebuilding shot up to record highs. Now that Worcester City Council is being run on the new committee system, the MP is encouraging all parties to work together to ensure delivery picks up.

Commenting on the figures, Robin said:

“It is great to see central Government providing record incentives for the delivery of affordable housing. Nationwide this is making a huge difference, with many councils reaping substantial financial benefits for increasing the housing supply in their area. Unfortunately, Worcester has not been making the most of these incentives in recent years and did better under a Conservative administration.”

“I warned of this in December 2016 when it first became apparent that the provision of affordable housing in the city was falling after Labour took control of the council the previous May. The council’s own housing strategy document published last summer acknowledged the failures of that year but predicted things would improve dramatically in 2017 – now we see that optimism was misplaced and things have actually got worse, with just 11 units of affordable housing delivered in the year to October 2017. I do appreciate that there is limited space within the city boundaries but the use of brownfield land should allow for faster delivery and I will continue to advocate for this. At the same time, more needs to be done to bring empty properties back into use and promote ‘living above the shop.’”

“The end result of this is that Worcester is avoidably missing out on drawing its share of the bonus money made available by the Government to drive up housebuilding, receiving just £3,000 this year in comparison to neighbouring Wychavon who have received nearly £50,000.”

“I will be taking this matter up with the Council’s leadership, as these figures must be improved as a matter of urgency.”

ENDS

Notes to editors

Local Authority Net additions to housing stock (October 16 – October 17) Empty homes brought back into use Affordable units (incl. caravan pitches) Affordable homes premium: £350 per unit (£) Year 8 payments (£) Legacy payments (£)
Worcester 362 22 11 3,080 232,414 1,376,679

 

For Robin’s previous statements on housebuilding in Worcester, see:

http://www.walker4worcester.com/robin-walker-mp-hails-budget-announcements-to-increase-supply-and-access-to-housing/

http://www.walker4worcester.com/worcester-mp-backs-government-plan-for-more-affordable-homes-while-protecting-the-green-belt/

http://www.walker4worcester.com/red-alert-over-collapse-in-new-affordable-housing-under-labour-2/

http://www.walker4worcester.com/walker-hails-another-record-number-of-new-affordable-homes-in-worcester/

http://www.walker4worcester.com/more-homes-being-built-in-worcestershire-as-swdp-go-ahead-protects-green-land/

http://www.walker4worcester.com/walker-urges-britain-to-build-on-worcesters-housing-successes/

http://www.walker4worcester.com/walker-congratulates-worcester-city-council-on-record-delivery-of-affordable-homes/

http://www.walker4worcester.com/6780-families-in-worcester-will-now-have-the-opportunity-to-buy-their-housing-association-home/

http://www.walker4worcester.com/restored-conservative-council-delivers-more-affordable-homes/

For the figures on the last Labour administration’s failure to deliver affordable housing see:

http://www.walker4worcester.com/articles/view_detail.php?id=0dbc37425acd86497e9293f3bf445b20

For the figures on the success of the previous Conservative administration on affordable homes see:

http://www.walker4worcester.com/articles/view_detail.php?id=091c877ecfcecc7af611067a0fd89716

http://www.walker4worcester.com/articles/view_detail.php?id=89cc299de3e2c67de2a1e2247e67f104