Council lands £5million for New Homes Scheme
SWINDON Council is to receive just over £5 million as part of the Government’s New Homes Scheme as a reward for building new homes.
The scheme rewards councils for every home they allow to be built in an attempt to revive the housing market and Swindon is set to receive the cash injection for increasing the housing stock by more than 800 through new builds or bringing others on to the market.
Meanwhile, Wiltshire Council’s grant is one of the highest outside London, receiving a total of just under £11m.
The money is not ring-fenced, meaning it can be spent on anything.
In the previous financial year, just over £2 million of the cash was used to fund the basic council budget with the rest going to projects designed to promote growth in the town.
Council leader David Renard said: “Swindon has a history of house building, especially during the good years when we were building more than 1,000 homes each year and this money shows we are still committed to building.
“This Government money gives us an opportunity to fund certain projects.
“We need to sit down and discuss the options.
“Clearly there are many things we can use the money for and I am sure people will come forward with suggestions.”
Although no decisions on the use of the money have been made, one possibility is to use it to assist with the rolling out of superfast broadband in parts of the town.
The council is anticipating an announcement for additional funding to help meet the target of 95 per cent coverage across the country.
Some of the New Homes Scheme money could go towards this, which the Government would then match.
Coun Renard said superfast broadband was an important issue and certainly something which will be considered but cautioned about expecting the money to stretch too far.
He said: “Broadband is one of the key issues and something especially the North Swindon MP Justin Tomlinson gets quite a lot of correspondence about.
“I am sure that it will feature high on peoples list of priorities. Unfortunately, there are lots of schemes that people will want to use the money for and we won’t be able to pay for everything.
“We have to make sure the money is used wisely.”