As a result of all the new housing building taking place around us, we should be receiving benefits in a number of ways.
Firstly the so called “section 106 payments” and “Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL)” payments. These are the payments that the developer and/or landowner agrees to pay as part of the planning consent to improve the infrastructure of the area for the new residents.
Secondly, there is the new homes bonus paid by the Government to the Vale District Council based on the number of new homes built.
We sent in a freedom of information request to the District Council asking: “how much money has been received in New Homes Bonus payments for homes built since April 2011 in Wantage, Grove, East and West Challow, East and West Hanney, and East and West Hendred and for a breakdown of what this money has been spent on in each town/parish council area?”
Five weeks later the response was received:
“We do not hold the information available to answer this question. New Homes Bonus (NHB) is not a payment made solely to reflect the number of new homes built. It is calculated using the annual net movement in “Band D equivalent” properties across the district, which includes new homes built, but also includes other factors such as changes in council tax banding. It also reflects empty homes brought back in to use, and an additional payment is made for affordable homes on a district wide basis. All of these factors produce overall movement in Band D equivalent properties, which the Government then uses to make one NHB payment to the District.”
“All grants awarded by the council are available on our website www.whitehorsedc.gov.uk/grants. There are two options on the left hand menu, grants completed and grants awarded. You can search by parish and see what the individual projects were.”
So not much help there then.
We eventually found that the amount of New Homes Bonus received by the Vale is available from government statistics and that they have received £15.8 million since the scheme started in 2011.
When we finally registered and received access to the “grants” section of the website we found that just over £58,000 had been given in New Homes Bonus Grants in Wantage, Grove, East and West Challow, East and West Hanney, and East and West Hendred.
That’s less than half of one percent of the total amount received.
No wonder they didn’t want to give us the information.