Buried deep within the public spending announcements this week is that Hilary Benn will scrap the New Homes Bonus and replacement it with a ‘more equitable’ arrangement of funding. This is capitulation to a campaign from UNISON that it redistributes to wealthy authorities.
Yes the New Homes Bonus is a hopelessly badly targeted scheme that grants money to areas if they have high demand irrespective if they actually lift a finger or bust a gut to improve housing supply. But it was a replacement for measures designed to put plans in place. The ‘replacement’ will get swallowed up by adult social services I guess or simply be a cover for a cut making the likely cuts to planning under any Labour government worse than the 47% under the coalition.
What they should be doing is offering a grant based on advance payment of DCLG grant pro rata population per unit allocated in development plans (50% on plan submission, 50% on adoption) which LPAs could then use to borrow against for infrastructure. This I suspect would not breach treasury rules as the 25% (say) affordable housing of units completed would save on the astronomical costs of homelessness and housing benefit.
But seriously is Labour not offering any carrot to positivity on new housing supply or just the stick of the Lyons review duty to meet need?