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Cambridge city leader Lewis Herbert speak out against diverted New Homes Bonus

Councillor Lewis Herbert. Picture: Keith Heppell
Councillor Lewis Herbert. Picture: Keith Heppell

Government changes to New Homes Bonus will divert money to social care.

Councillor Lewis Herbert, leader of the Labour-run Cambridge City Council, has spoken out after Communities Secretary Sajid David confirmed changes to New Home Bonus (NHB), which will then be diverted to councils (like Cambridgeshire County Council) to be spent on adult social care.

The changes aim to make savings of £240 million.

New Homes Bonus is paid to councils to compensate them for delivering new homes. Cambridge City Council New Homes Bonus for 2017/18 will amount to just under £6m.

Councillor Herbert said:"A recent study in Milton Keynes also showed that every new home costs local councils £1100 a year over and above council tax. New Homes Bonus helps us meet some of this additional cost and create strong new communities. Taking it away puts an unfair burden on the rest of the community, when they are entitled to a share in prosperity.

"There is no doubt that the deepening social care crisis has been brought about by the government's failure to properly fund the social care system.

The government must end the way it has starved Cambridgeshire and other county councils of funds for the vital care provided for the elderly and children for six long years.

"Their Elastoplast approach to care of breaking existing funding commitments, and"robbing Peter to pay Paul", proposes to take the money from the 'New Homes Bonus'. The budgets and plans of hard working councils like Cambridge city are being damaged, money that is essential to deliver successful new housing and support growth, and future tax receipts for Treasury may now be reduced.

"As the latest government data shows, Cambridge has been succeeding in building high numbers of the housing and affordable housing our community badly needs. That's a difficult job given the need to match it with investment in transport and essential infrastructure.

"If the government really wants to boost housebuilding as it promises with a new Housing White Paper, it will reverse this cut to New Homes Bonus in fast growth areas."

The changes announced on Thursday 15 December were: a phased reduction from 6 years of NHB to four years for every new home delivered; a 0.4% housing growth baseline meaning councils will only be rewarded for delivering 'additional' rather than 'normal' growth; no NHB from 2018/19 where sites are developed following an appeal and; no HNB for local authorities without a local plan in place by 2018/19.

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