By Grant Shapps, Housing Minister.
While operating their revolving door of nine different Housing Ministers in just 13 years, Labour oversaw a sustained decline in home ownership and a fall in housebuilding to their lowest peacetime levels since 1924.
We are helping to reverse these trends and make Britain better through the New Homes Bonus, a multi-billion pound programme that rewards communities when they accept more housebuilding in their area. By matching the revenue from the additional council tax raised for new homes and properties brought back into use - with an additional amount for affordable homes - for the following six years, we are directly incentivising local authorities and local communities to support housing growth.
The New Homes Bonus commenced in April 2011 and addresses the disincentive within the local government finance system for local areas to welcome growth. Previously, additional housing in communities has meant an increased strain on public services and amenities. The Bonus now provides local authorities with the means to mitigate the burden of an expanding population. This channels the economic benefits of growth to the local authorities and communities where that growth takes place. Partly as a result of this, housebuilding starts in England are up 23 per cent over the year, measured against the previous comparative figure under Labour.
Our FirstBuy scheme to help first-time buyers onto the property ladder, the abolition of costly Home Information Packs, and the release of unused Government land for house development are further schemes to boost the housing market. We have also managed to keep interest rates low in this country by tackling Labour’s deficit. In addition, we are simplifying the planning system and reducing regulatory burdens on the housebuilding industry, to make it easier to submit planning applications, while renewing our commitment to protect the natural and historic environment.