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Call to ‘ring-fence’ £1.7m Worcester housing pot
CALLS are being made to safeguard £1.7 million of cash which council bosses hope to use towards easing Worcester’s housing crisis.
Worcester’s Labour group wants the money “ring-fenced” so it cannot be raided over the next few years to plug holes in the budget.
The city council is being handed £5.6 million from central government as a reward for the amount of new homes being built.
The council’s Conservative leadership wants to allocate £1.7 million of the fund towards building new social housing between now and 2018. But the Labour group says it wants guarantees bosses cannot u-turn on the pledge and use some of the cash to fill gaps which could emerge elsewhere.
The council is slashing spending by more than £1.2 million by 2015 to balance the books and could face more cuts in future years depending on what funding it gets from central government.
Councillor Geoff Williams, from the Labour group, said: “I welcome the spending on affordable homes but there are a couple of issues.
“A report in December said the council will attempt to use some of the money on social housing, but there may be pressure to use some on the revenue budget.
“We would like to see the amount allocated for housing ring-fenced away from that so there is no danger whatsoever of that happening.”
The £5.6 million cash pot, which is called the New Homes Bonus, is being split three ways, with the remainder going on ideas to boost the economy, as well as new infrastructure like roads and footpath improvements.
As your Worcester News reported, about £348,000 is going towards a £700,000 revamp of the city’s High Street.
Coun Williams’ comments were made during a meeting of the performance management committee, where other politicians agreed with the stance.
Coun Liz Smith, leader of the Liberal Democrats, said: “I hope all of the money from the New Homes Bonus can be used in the way it’s intended and all three categories remain as they are.”