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Chancellor’s cash for homes welcomed by Bradford Council
Bradford has been offered the chance to borrow millions of pounds to build badly-needed homes – but only if it agrees to sell off land.
George Osborne used his autumn statement to announce a £300m increase in the amount local authorities can borrow for housebuilding.
However, town halls will only get funds if they agree to sell land and social housing, although many – including Bradford – have already transferred their stock.
Labour-run Bradford Council said it was interested in pursuing such a deal, but warned: “The devil will be in the detail.”
Councillor Val Slater, the executive member for housing, said: “Bradford has already taken the step of borrowing money to build houses, in partnership with developers and social landlords.
“We could be interested in pursuing that option further, but we would have to be convinced that it is the right deal for Bradford.
“Certainly this sort of help is needed, because we do have a housing timebomb in Bradford. Some housebuilding has started – but more needs to be done.”
The £300m will fund 10,000 affordable homes over two years, but that falls way short of the 300,000 a year demanded by campaigners, earlier this year.
The move came in a low-key autumn statement, in which the Chancellor announced:
- higher growth forecasts for this year (up from 0.6 per cent to 1.4 per cent) and next year (from 1.8 per cent to 2.4 per cent)
- a further freeze in petrol taxes – with a planned 2p rise next year scrapped
- rail fares will rise only in line with RPI inflation next month – not RPI plus one per cent
- a £1,000 cut in business rates for small shops and pubs, for the next two years and halved rates for new occupants of vacant shops
- the scrapping of National Insurance contributions on 1.5m jobs for young people
- a threat to strip benefits from jobless under-21s who refuse to go on training courses “from day one”.
Paul Mackie, president of Bradford Chamber of Commerce, gave a scathing response to the announcements, describing the package as “disappointing”.
He welcomed the moves on business rates, NI and fuel duty, but said: “We think the Government could have gone much further. It’s all about politics and not about enterprise.
“There’s not been enough for businesses to think about investing more – and that’s what’s needed to propel recovery and growth forward at a faster rate.
“There was also little or nothing to help manufacturers, like tackling energy prices.”
But Kris Hopkins MP (Con, Keighley), the Housing Minister, said: “Our economy has turned the corner.
“George Osborne was right to stick to his rescue plan and he has made the correct calls by enabling businesses and hard-working people to benefit.”
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