Councils get £430m house build fund

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Housing Minister Grant Shapps announced more than £430 million of funding to help councils as part of a scheme to encourage the building of new homes or bringing empty properties back in use.

The funding is for the second year of the New Homes Bonus scheme, which saw almost 159,000 homes built or brought into use last year.

Council tax raised from new homes is matched by the Government for the first six years under the scheme.

Mr Shapps said: “The bonus payments for new homes last for six years – so this year’s bonus is more than double the payment from year one, and it’s why communities that continue to welcome new homes can expect to see bigger cash bonuses and improved local services in the future.”

The Government has unveiled a package of measures in recent weeks aiming to inject life back into the stagnating housing market and encourage first-time buyers, who have been struggling to find large deposits, on to the property ladder.

Rents have soared as tenants unable to buy their own home have remained trapped in the crowded rental sector, while those desperate to sell have slashed their prices as winter closes in.

Government plans to liven up the market include underwriting mortgages for first-time buyers purchasing new build homes and reinvigorating the “right to buy” scheme, a policy associated with former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.