Bolton to get £3.4 million windfall for building new homes
BOLTON will receive a £3.4 million windfall from the government as a reward for building new homes in the town.
Council chiefs said they were yet to decide what the money would be spent on — but councils are free to spend the money however they wish, including freezing council tax.
The money is part of a £38.8 million New Homes Bonus given to Greater Manchester, and Bolton has now received £8.2 million since the scheme started in 2011.
The council’s chief executive Sean Harriss, pictured, said while this was a welcome announcement, the authority was expecting the money.
He said: “This is not new money. It obviously varies slightly from year to year from the number of new homes there are, and this allocation only confirms what we anticipated.
“The council gets income from lots of different sources — such as council tax and government grants — and it’s all part of that.”
Greater Manchester councils have received £84.9 million over a four-year period, helping to build more than 27,000 new and refurbished homes, including 5,409 affordable homes.
Communities minister Stephen Williams said it was important that empty houses were being brought back into productive use.
He said: “The government is doing everything possible to tackle the problem of empty homes and urban blight, and the New Homes Bonus is a shot in the arm for councils tackling the problem of abandoned homes and urban blight locally.
“The number of long term empty homes has already fallen by 93,000 and we are now going further, giving councils the incentive to bring people, shops and jobs back to once abandoned areas, and to provide extra affordable homes we so badly need.”
Cllr Nick Peel, executive member for environmental services, said the money could be spent on a whole range of council services.
He said: “The New Homes Bonus has got to be taken in the context of the £100 million we have lost so far, so getting £3 million back is barely scratching the surface.
“We had made an assessment around what we thought we would get, and I believe it’s roughly in line with that and has been built into the base budget.”
The money will form part of the council’s 2014/15 budget which will be set in February next year.
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