Bid on the way to access funding for more affordable homes in Central Beds

PUBLISHED: 16:31 27 July 2018 | UPDATED: 16:31 27 July 2018

A rise in the amount of money it can borrow could mean Central Beds Council can build more affordable housing.

A rise in the amount of money it can borrow could mean Central Beds Council can build more affordable housing.

Archant

An increase in the amount of money it can borrow could enable Central Bedfordshire Council to provide more affordable housing.

The government recently lifted the cap on the funding local authorities can access to up to £1 billion, for those ready to start building new homes.

The move was designed for councils in areas under pressure from expensive house prices.

Local authorities will be able to bid for increases in their caps between 2019 to 2020 and 2021 to 2022, according to a government website.

Central Bedfordshire Council can bid for a share of half a billion pounds for non-London authorities, a meeting of its corporate resources overview and scrutiny committee heard yesterday.

Conservative Arlesey councillor Richard Wenham said: “Don’t get too excited. That’s spread over three years.

“The council is working on a bid. It will mean increasing the borrowing limit to provide more affordable housing.”

He explained: “The bid will be submitted on September 7. The government office may take many months to look at it.

“We’re hopeful we’ll gain an increase in funding, as we do qualify on the basis of being an authority in serious need.

“We believe we can put a compelling case. We’re at the housing revenue account limit.”

Mr Wenham, who is the council’s deputy leader and executive member for corporate resources, added: “I look forward to updating the committee on that [bid] towards the end of September.

“There’s no guarantee we will get this housing revenue account money, so we have to continue to pursue the project that was outlined in the paper which was withdrawn.

“Hopefully, when it comes back, it will be very similar. There will be more objectives in it, in terms of deliverables, and perhaps a reduced scope.”

There are certain conditions which have to be met, he explained.

“It specifically says you can’t deliver any of this housing with this additional money through a separate company – so it is ringfenced for housing revenue account use, to be delivered through existing structures.

“There are three clear criteria for success. One is this need, which means being identified as a council in need due to the cost of housing locally.

“It’s about how efficient and effective we can be at delivering housing in cost per square metre, and the timing.

“It has to be delivered in a year. You have to spend the money in the year it’s awarded. That is very important.

“And lastly it’s about what are we putting into it as a council, and where are we positioned.

“Are the sites we are putting in to be considered available? Are they well advanced in terms of planning? And how costly are they?”

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