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Is the Pickles Abolition of Labour’s Housing Targets a Political Sham?

August 2, 2010 by  

Promises made in the General Election and Local Elections could have been a cynical political sham.

Once the promise to revoke the RSS Housing Targets was enacted by Eric Pickles on 6 July, District Councils had the chance to make sure that the views of the majority of residents put forward in public consultations on their respective LDF/Core Strategies were acted upon.

But Rochford District Council has decided not to reduce the Labour house building targets but to just spread the same number over another 5/6 years. No green belt is saved. 

What could be a reason for building more houses than are required to meet local needs?

How many other Councils will also fail to act up and down the country? 

Please email me at john [at] onlinemail.me [dot] uk about what your district council is doing so a country wide picture is formed.

Here is the evidence.  Judge for yourself. 

The Conservative Party Green Paper on Planning in February announced policy which actually has the clear objective of increasing the delivery of housing and other development.

Here are the direct quotations which support that view.

House building

In our previous green papers we have explained at length how and why we will be rejecting the current Government’s counterproductive housing targets, and instead offering local authorities a powerful council tax matching incentive to encourage new house building. We believe this incentive will prove strong enough to produce the scale of house building the country needs. However, we will keep the level of this council tax incentive under review in order to ensure that it does deliver.

A framework of incentives for development

We have already set out in a previous green paper our commitment that when your community builds more homes, central government will match pound-for-pound the extra money that your area gets through council tax for six years – and when your community attracts more businesses, we’ll let your area keep the increased business rates for six years.

Specifically, to encourage the building of affordable housing, we have decided that every new affordable housing unit that is built will earn the local authority in question 125% of the council tax raised by that unit, annually for a period of six years, to be paid through our Matching Fund.10This will induce councils to promote the development of affordable housing (by means of their local plan).

Shortly after the General Election articles in the Press confirmed;

 “It is Tory policy to encourage housebuilding by matching authorities’ council tax income from new developments.”

Then came the Con/Lib Coalition Government’s first Budget on 22 June 2010.

Budget 2010 – implications for planning

It was announced, inter alia, “Consider the most appropriate framework of incentives for local authorities to support growth, including exploring options for business rate and council tax incentives, which would allow local authorities to reinvest the benefits of growth into local communities.”

We now await formal announcements on the delivery of the Matching Fund Scheme from DCLG Ministers, either Grant Shapps or Greg Clarke.

But this is what we can expect in financial terms from the Times (12 June 2010).

Mr Shapps said: “An authority that ensured 10,000 new homes are put up could be in line for £100 million over six years.”

(http://property.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/property/article7148429.ece)

Doing the math (£100,000,000 divided by 10,000 homes = £10,000 which in turn = £1666.

This is the Council Tax per year which compares quite nicely to Rochford District Council Band D and validates the math.

“From RDC’s Web Site The Council Tax for 2010/11 was agreed by Council on 16 February 2010. The total average Band D Council Tax for Rochford residents will be £1,518.63.”

So there is no misunderstanding in my mind on the financial incentive to build more houses than you need especially at the time of further cuts because the article was quoting a Minister on just 12 June.

This is big money.

At the 190 dwellings per annum that the Council has passed this could mean for the first 5 years of the Core Strategy this is on Band D a bounty sum of £1,442,100.

To finish my post from the same article in the Times.

“Grant Shapps, the Housing Minister, has told The Times that he will reward local authorities that give planning approval to housing developments by matching the council tax revenue collected from these homes. The money will continue for six years, with extra provided for affordable homes for first-time buyers.

Mr Shapps is determined to overcome those who object to new developments, despite allowing local people more say under the “revolutionary” planning overhaul”

Comment

The new Con/Lib Coalition Government will hardly be congratulated by residents when they realise that promises have been reneged on and they still cannot have their say on and be listened to  on anything that really matters locally despite all the spin on The Big Society and Localism and Decentralisation.

It is still about top down Government forcing its will on residents.

How is it that I can claim that?

  • Well the Zero Council Tax decreed by Government for 2011/12 creates a Council Deficit of £1.5m over 5 years.
  • And the bounty paid for building new houses over 5 years is £1.4m.
  • So the deficit forces the Council to build the houses on green belt that you do not want.
  • So if there was no decreed Zero Council Tax then the houses could have been cut back to local needs and aspirations.

That is the huge cost of the Zero Council Tax in 2011/12.

Is that what you wanted?

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