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£2.6m cash boost for Worcester City Council
A £2.6 million cash boost is heading to Worcester City Council’s coffers - with the Government offering an early Christmas present.
The council has been awarded extra money as a reward for encouraging new housing developments in Worcester, under a scheme called the New Homes Bonus.
Every year up to 2019/20, the Government is handing local authorities top-up funds as an olive-branch for allowing property building to go ahead.
It emerged yesterday that the city council will get £436,000 for each of the six financial years up to and including 2020, just over £2.6 million in total.
It comes at a time when the council is facing a 16 per cent reduction in general Government funding next year, an unpredecented cut which was confirmed late last night.
The Department for Communities and Local Government has announced funding allocations for all town halls.
The council’s Labour leadership says it does not plan to use the New Homes Bonus to plug gaps in the general budget.
Instead, it will stick to the plan of using one third for new affordable homes, a third for worthwhile regeneration schemes, for example High Street repaving, and a third on any measures deemed to boost the economy.
Councillor Richard Boorn, the cabinet member for finance, said: “Obviously it’s very welcome news but there is the possibility that come 2020, this funding will stop.
“The responsible thing is to treat it as ‘bonus’ cash, and not put it into the general budget because if you rely on it, you create extra risks.
“We still plan to use it for special projects because we feel it would be unsustainable to do anything else.”
Worcester MP Robin Walker said: “I am delighted Worcester is once again seeing a big increase in funding as a result of this excellent Government policy.
“Having recently visited regeneration sites where Worcester Community Housing is delivering more affordable homes, I can see that the New Homes Bonus is making a difference and encouraging brownfield developments, which Worcester badly needs.”
The city council has produced a draft budget for 2014/15 which includes cuts of just under £1 million.
It includes higher fees for car parking, garden waste collections and adult cremations, as well as less road sweeping and emptying of bins.
As your Worcester News revealed on Tuesday, 10 jobs are being scrapped next year and 40 in total by 2018.
Next year’s New Homes Bonus grant is highest ever awarded to Worcester - until now the biggest allocation was £406,000 in 2011/12.
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