Missing out on millions?

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Figures released by the Government show that High Peak Council has completely missed out on a multi-million pound injection of Government cash on offer for encouraging the construction of more new homes.

Local authorities in Derbyshire will share nearly £15 million in incentives to kick-start the economy by encouraging more house-building.

Of the nine district councils in the county, Erewash and and Amber Valley are to receive the highest amount at £2.26 million and £1.28 million respectively over six years.

But High Peak will get nothing, according to statistics released at the beginning of what Housing Minister Grant Shapps calls “a local housebuilding revolution.”

It aims to reward communities who go for growth by building new homes to reap the benefits and at the same time deliver a much -needed economic boost to their local area.

Following calls from the Advertiser about the figures, High Peak Council officials are now looking at a possible challenge to the way the funding is calculated.

The Minister had recently announced the first cash bonuses totalling almost £200 million for communities building new homes and confirmed final details of how local housebuilding will be transformed through powerful incentives that will encourage local communities to back rather than oppose development – and they get to choose how these building bonuses are spent.

Through the New Homes Bonus the Government will match the council tax raised from new homes for the first six years.

The bonus available for an affordable home will be up to 36 per cent more than for a similar market home, equivalent to an extra £350 per house premium every year. Empty properties brought back into use will also receive the cash bonus for six years.

This works out at payments of over £9,000 paid on average to each Band D home or almost £11,000 for an equivalent affordable home.

If an area increased the number of homes by 1,000 units this could earn a community £10 million to spend as they see fit – significant funding at a time when public finances are tight.

In Derbyshire Dales, the housing stock from October 2009 to 2010 increased by 171, attracting a total of £1.2 million over six years under the scheme.

In High Peak, 90 homes were either built or brought back into use, but another 85 fell into long term disuse – so the net total was five, which means the borough will get nothing as the sum total increase in council tax was zero.

A spokesman for High Peak Borough Council said: “These provisional funding allocations are the subject of a Government consultation running to Thursday week (March 10).

“We will be using this opportunity to seek clarification of and, if necessary, challenge the way in which the funding is calculated.

“The grant awards are derived from a complex formula that takes account of a number of factors.

“However, as our budget for the new financial year does not rely on any such funding, the absence of a grant would not impact negatively on our spending plans.”