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Government confirms £2.6m cash boost for Worcester
A £2.6 million cash boost for Worcester City Council has been confirmed by the Government - offering a major boost to the coffers.
The cash-strapped authority, which is having to make £4.1 million of cuts by 2019, has been told that its 'reward' cash for allowing new house building in the city has hit a record high.
The council will get New Homes Bonus cash worth £435,590 every year between now and 2020.
It was first revealed as a proposal late last year but has now been confirmed by Housing Minister Kris Hopkins.
It comes despite a 16 per cent plunge in general Government funding, which is leading to unprecedented cuts.
As your Worcester News revealed last year, the Labour leadership says 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.
Every other district council in Worcestershire has decided to plough the bonus money into their general budgets instead - a move which could prove risky as it could end in 2020.
The cash reward was because of large amounts of house building across Worcester in the last financial year, when the Tories controlled the city council.
Worcester MP Robin Walker said: "This major boost in funding will be welcome at a time when all councils are feeling the strain.
"I strongly support the approach that Worcester has always taken of seeing the New Homes Bonus as additional capital funding and not allowing it to be treated as part of their revenue account.
"This is a responsible measure as it cannot be guaranteed to continue on the same level in future years."
Every year the Government hands councils New Homes Bonus awards, with each amount renewing itself for six successive years.
The total funding for 2014/15 is therefore £1.5 million, due to previous allocations which are automatically repeated.
At the moment the Government says it intends to fund the scheme until 2020, but has refused to give any guarantees beyond that point.
Councillor Richard Boorn, cabinet member for finance at the city council, said: "It is what it is, it's a mathematical calculation. We're not happy with our general funding from the Government.
"I'd be even happier if it was confirmed beyond 2020."