A desperate attempt to get the policy, and Bungalow Bob Kerslake, off the hook after the recent PAC savaging of the policy. If it is simply a reward for what would be built anyway then judged against this money shredding criteria for success the policy can never fail.
When MPs sought to discuss the government’s exciting new homes bonus initiative, Kris Hopkins, the housing minister, seemed just the man to allay any fears. But by the end of Monday’s debate, things were as cloudy as the view through a dirty window. This scheme seems to be a bit of a turkey, complained David Lammy. “I am sorry, but the honourable gentleman clearly does not understand the scheme,” said Hopkins. He rightly told MPs that “the bonus itself is not for building homes”. It is a sweetener for those local councils that allow more housebuilding. But Hopkins went further. He also said: “I am afraid the new homes bonus is not about encouraging people to build homes.” Which had many MPs scratching their heads, because if one turns to the website of Hopkins’ Department for Communities and Local Government, it says: “We’ve introduced the new homes bonus. This is a grant to local councils for increasing the number of homes and their use.” In February Mark Prisk, Hopkins’ predecessor, said: “This country needs to build more homes, and that’s why the government is giving communities a reason to say ‘yes’ to growth through the new homes bonus.” And in 2010, Grant Shapps, then housing minister, wrote to local authorities promising that: “In April 2011 we will introduce the new homes bonus, a powerful fiscal incentive for local authorities to deliver more homes.” All of which might qualify as encouragement, you might think?