POLITICS
24/04/2018 07:00 BST | Updated 24/04/2018 10:51 BST

Councils Urged To Reveal Full Figures Of Unspent Affordable Homes Cash

HuffPost UK revealed at least £375million is yet to be spent

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Councils are being urged to disclose how much money they have to build affordable housing after a HuffPost UK investigation revealed millions is sitting unspent.

A housing association group is demanding to know just how much cash is available to local authorities to help ease the homes crisis, after HuffPost UK revealed on Monday councils across England and Wales have more than £375million available to spend.

But the true amount of money set aside for affordable housing could be significantly higher, with many councils either ignoring or refusing to give the data requested under the Freedom of Information Act.

Cornwall, Wiltshire, Liverpool, Shropshire and Doncaster councils were among 66 authorities not to give the information requested, while 267 did provide the data.

The revelation of the pot of money sitting unspent led Downing Street to claim the current system is not working properly and pledged reform.

The money is hoovered up by councils under a piece of planning law called Section 106 agreements, which sees developers hand over cash as part of planning permission being granted.

The cash has to be used for specific tasks, such as affordable housing, highways repairs and even public art.

James Prestwich, Head of Policy at the housing associations lobby group the National Housing Federation told HuffPost UK: “We understand that Freedom of Information requests can sometimes be difficult to process quickly, but we would encourage any local authorities that have not published this data to do so as soon as possible.

“They should also have a clear plan in place to spend any unallocated funding – by working in partnership with local housing associations, councils can ensure this money is being spent effectively and in a way that makes a real difference to people’s lives.”

 

PA Wire/PA Images
Kensington and Chelsea Council, responsible for Grenfell, has £21.4million for affordable housing unspent 

Homeless charity Shelter also called for more transparency, with its chief executive Polly Neate telling HuffPost UK: “Councils should explain to the public why money for affordable housing isn’t being invested for that purpose given the housing emergency we face.

“But councils can’t do it on their own. The government needs to pull its weight too by making sure upcoming changes to planning rules make it harder for developers to wriggle out of building affordable homes.”

Downing Street confirmed the Government wants to see changes to the current system, where developers can escape their obligations to build affordable housing by handing over cash to councils.

A spokesperson said: “The current system of developer contributions is not working as it should.

“That’s exactly why we have proposed reforms that will support swifter development, and make the process more transparent and accountable .”

HuffPost UK’s investigation was welcomed by Twitter users, with many expressing concern that so much money was yet to be used.

Councils who refused to give information on unspent Section 106 monies 

Derbyshire County Council

Staffordshire County Council

Cornwall Council

Oxfordshire County Council

Bath & North East Somerset Council

City of London Corporation

East Devon

East Sussex County Council

Exeter City

Gloucestershire County Council

Hampshire County Council

Lewes District Council

London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham

London Borough of Sutton

Mid Devon District Council

Rutland County Council

Sedgemoor District Council

Somerset County Council

South Staffordshire

Surrey County Council

West Berkshire Council

Cumbria County Council

 

Councils who did not answer the Freedom of Information request

Blaenau Gwent County Borough

Carmarthenshire County Council

Ceredigion County Council

City & County of Swansea

City of Westminster

City of York

Darlington Borough Council

Derbyshire Dales

Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council

East Hampshire District Council

Flintshire County Council

Gosport Borough Council

Hyndburn Borough Council

Isle of Anglesey Council

Liverpool City Council

London Borough of Bexley

London Borough of Harrow

London Borough of Islington

North Dorset District Council

North West Leicestershire

Pendle Borough Council

Preston City Council

Ribble Valley Borough Council

Shropshire Council

Taunton Deane Borough Council

Test Valley Borough Council

Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council

Watford Borough Council

Waverley Borough Council

West Devon Borough Council

West Dorset District Council

West Oxfordshire

West Somerset

Weymouth & Portland Borough Council

Woking Borough Council