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£320m doled out across South East as part of New Homes Bonus
Almost £16million in Government cash will be handed to councils across Hampshire for their efforts in building new houses.
Almost £320 million is being doled out to South East authorities as part of the New Homes Bonus, after thousands of new homes were built across the region.
The figures can be revealed just days after Prime Minister David Cameron visited Southampton to promote the Government’s Help to Buy scheme which has seen more than 6,000 people apply for mortgages since the scheme began three months ago.
During his visit the PM also warned Hampshire residents to expect more of their green fields to be built on as the demand for housing continues to grow. But opposition politicians say the Government could still do more to make home ownership realistic for working people. Government ministers say housing construction has risen to its highest level since 2007 as a result of the bonus.
Across the South East, 90,000 new homes have been built while 9,000 empty homes have been brought back into use.
The money handed to councils for 2014/15 – which includes £3.1 million to Southampton City Council and £2.7 million to Test Valley Borough Council – can be used however authorities choose.
Conservative Housing Minister Kris Hopkins said: “Top-down regional strategies and eco-towns failed hard-working families who aspired to own their own home and built nothing but resentment.
“In stark contrast councils have received over £2 billion for their part in getting Britain building, leading to housing construction reaching its highest levels for seven years. And they are free to spend the money any way they like to benefit their local communities – whether that’s supporting frontline services, providing new facilities or freezing council tax.”
Liberal Democrat Communities Minister Stephen Williams added: “The Government is doing everything possible to tackle the problem of empty homes and urban blight and the New Homes Bonus is a shot in the arm for councils tackling the problem of abandoned homes and urban blight locally.”
But the Government’s housing strategy has been criticised by the Labour opposition, with Southampton Test MP Alan Whitehead saying less than half the homes needed to meet demand are currently being built.
He says the housing shortage, added to a “cost of living crisis” caused by falling wages and rising bills, is putting home ownership out of the reach of millions of people.
Speaking after party leader Ed Miliband announced plans to deliver 200,000 new homes a year if Labour wins the next election, he said: “David Cameron has done little to encourage the building of new homes and as a result we are now experiencing the lowest levels of homes built in peacetime since the 1920s. Owning your own house is a dream that is fast disappearing for many people.
“Many people in Southampton are facing a cost of living crisis and are struggling with housing costs. By getting Britain building again a Labour government will help tackle spiralling private rents and make home ownership an achievable dream once more.”
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