Housing success leads to windfall

This Is Wiltshire: Swindon council has been praised for making houses available Swindon council has been praised for making houses available

SWINDON council is to receive more than £5m as payment for making more homes available.

The government set up the New Homes Bonus shortly after coming to power and each year gives local authorities money depending on the number of extra houses in use.

It has been announced that Swindon will get £5,074,524 this time around, bringing the total amount it has received from the scheme to over £13m since 2011.

The money gained is not ring-fenced which means it can be spent on anything which the council sees fit.

Within the 12 month period the money was awarded for, 683 new houses were used and a further 61 empty properties were filled.

Council leader David Renard (Con, Haydon Wick) said: “House building is very important with many people looking to buy and the council, along with the government, recognise Swindon is a very good area for development.

“There is a definite need across the country for new houses and we are committed to playing our part.

“We have bought a number of empty properties back into use but that is not a major problem across the town. The council’s stock of houses is almost always full.

“The majority of this money is for building new houses.”

Due to previous payments the council had some idea of the amount it was going to be given so a portion of the funds has already been allocated to maintaining normal services.

The usage for the remainder of the money has yet to be decided. Discussions will soon take place as what to do with the extra cash.

While it could be used to pay off building debts, some of the money could be used towards local projects.

Coun Renard said: “We have been aware that we would be getting some money through this scheme so we have made some provisions. About £2 million has been designated to the revenue budget to keep the council services going.

“There are a number of options available to us. We can use it to pay off some of the loans used to build things such as schools to help improve the council finances or we could put it towards an entirely new project.

“Nothing has been decided yet so we will sit down and think about it carefully.

“It is nice to be in a situation where we have money to spend so it is important we are sensible.”

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