Councils which fail to free up extra land for new homes could miss out on a £4.8 billion Government fund, The Huffington Post UK has learned.
The Tories are likely to use the New Homes Bonus fund as “a stick to beat” councils with if they do not allocate more land for houses, a local government insider told HuffPost UK.
The fund is paid out to councils as a reward for building affordable houses and filling empty homes.
But the Conservatives may now threaten to withdraw the extra money, in a “tough new drive to get more houses built”, a government source said.
“The rumours are they are going to really push councils to release more land for building. It’s likely to be only through removing grants, such as the New Homes Bonus”, he said.
Communities Secretary Sajid Javid will publish a housing white paper later this month to try to speed up housebuilding.
The paper is expected to suggest more incentives for building on brownfield sites and to move away from a reliance on the big developers.
It is also likely to include plans to force councils to release more land for development, HuffPost UK has learned.
But Shadow Housing Secretary John Healey told HuffPost UK Conservative MPs should “look to themselves before they start pointing the finger at councils”, over a lack of housing in the UK.
“Since 2010, we’ve seen investment in new homes slashed, ministers moving the goalposts on planning rules, and big cuts for council planning departments”, he said.
“This has slowed down new housebuilding and knocked the number of new affordable homes being built to the lowest level in 24 years.”
Housebuilding rates have risen in the last eight years, but still missed Government targets of 220,000 new homes a year in 2015-16.
The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has said:
“Local plans put power in the hands of local people to decide where developments get built in their area. Planning policy encourages locally led development and does not set national housing targets.
“Our white paper, to be published this month, will clearly set out how we plan to build the homes this country needs.”
DCLG declined to comment further on the contents of the white paper.