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Much needed new community facilities are threatened by proposed changes to a special funding scheme according to Mid Worcestershire MP Peter Luff. He is urging parish councils, community groups and concerned individuals to respond to a government consultation on the future of the New Homes Bonus. He is also urging local people to sign a petition on fairer funding for rural authorities.

Peter explained,

“The Government introduced the New Homes Bonus as a way to reward local communities for taking new homes in their area. When new homes are accepted the money given to the community can then be used for community facilities or projects. Across Wychavon local people have seen really good things happening with this money

“During 2012-13, Wychavon approved 28 New Homes Bonus proposals from 22 parish councils for projects amounting to a total of £205,147. The direct impact of these New Homes Bonus investments included better equipped community groups, improved village halls, safer roads and enhanced green spaces.

“Indeed, Wychavon has been praised by ministers for the way the council has used New Homes Bonus money for the direct benefit of the local people. But, just as the New Homes Bonus is beginning to prove its worth, the Government is going to change the system.

“The Government is proposing that some of the money given to councils should instead be given to the county’s Local Enterprise Partnership. The LEP would then be responsible for deciding what would happen with this cash.

“So, the financial reward for new homes built in, say, Broadway, might be spent in Redditch or Kidderminster. The link with local development would be broken and it is not fair to the communities that have been promised this money and have been making their plans for how to spend it. Understandably many parish councils are furious.”

The Government consultation on the New Homes Bonus closes on 19th September

Peter linked this development to the general funding of rural authorities like Wychavon, saying,

“This is all the more unfair as the new Homes Bonus brings real benefit to rural areas that already suffer underfunding for basic services. There is an ongoing fight to close the gap between the funding given to rural and urban communities. At the moment councils in rural areas are allocated less money to pay for the costs of services, although often they are more expensive. The Rural Fair Share campaign group has started a petition for people to sign to highlight this issue in Parliament.”

“We need as many signatures as possible and I know that your district councillors, who all have copies of the petition, would be delighted to hear from you if you want to sign it.

“Local Government funding can be complicated and in all honesty quite boring, but it is the lifeblood of local services and facilities and the Government’s plans will have a big effect. It is vital we make our voices heard.”


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