District councils find out how much they will get next year from the Government’s New Homes Bonus payouts.

THE region’s two district councils are set to receive almost £2million between them next year as part of a Government bonus scheme.

Provisional figures show Torridge will net £1,261,417 for helping to deliver 199 new homes, while North Devon gets £704,680 for 90.

The New Homes Bonus is intended to reward councils that help to deliver newly-built homes, conversions or bring empty homes back into use. The figures also include affordable homes.

In the four years the scheme has been running, NDC has received £2,533,325 and Torridge £3,237,455.

Some critics of the scheme have claimed the Government is giving with one hand and then taking away with the other by cutting councils’ local government finance.

Councillor Faye Webber, North Devon Council’s executive member for housing, said it remained a priority for the council: “Since this administration came into power, we have seen an increase in the flow of affordable housing.

“Already this financial year, we have seen 33 new affordable homes and 58 replacement ones for pre-reinforced concrete units. We are also predicting double that being created for 2014/15, with approximately 60 new homes and around 160 replacement properties.

“Obviously building new homes takes time and it is a slow process, but we are heading in the right direction.”

Torridge saw 12 affordable homes added in 2012-13, with none for the current financial year but some 200 are anticipated for 2014-15.

Torridge Leader Philip Collins said the New Homes Bonus was usually used to help pay for projects such as economic development or affordable housing, but not for next year.

“Due to the constant and drastic cuts in funding from central government, members at Torridge’s community and resources committee discussed and agreed to using around £455,000 of the NHB to bridge the gap in the budget,” he said.

“It will be a one-off use of the New Homes Bonus to balance the 2014-15 budget while other options will be looked at for future years.”

Announcing the national £2billion New Homes Bonus total, Housing Minister Kris Hopkins claimed the scheme was ‘finally giving communities a reason to say yes to new sustainable development’, with councils free to spend the money as they saw fit.

“Top-down regional strategies and eco-towns failed hardworking families who aspired to own their own home, and built nothing but resentment,” he said.

“In stark contrast, councils have more than £2 billion for their part in getting Britain building, and leading to housing construction reaching its highest levels for seven years.”