The Parish Council received the following notification from Cheshire West and Chester – dated Friday 26th but received this morning. Its contents mean that we will have to fund any future projects that we, as a Parish Council, take on directly from the Precept or by Grant Aid or both.
The recent decision to proceed with two road signs (on the north side of ‘Quarry Bank’ just above St Paul’s CofE School and immediately north of the ‘Fox and Barrel’ on the A49) has meant that we used the whole of the New Homes Bonus – Community Fund (NHB) in our reserves (approximately £8,200) plus an amount from our reserves and this meant that the Precept was raised for 2016/7.
“Councillor David Armstrong
5th Floor, HQ, 58 Nicholas Street Chester
Tel: 0300 123 8 123
To, The Parish Clerk (address removed by web master)
Date: 26th February 2016
New Homes Bonus
You will no doubt be aware that the Council considered the future use of the New Homes Bonus community fund as part of its budget debate.
The Council considered the feedback received when it consulted on a budget gap of some £47m. Unfortunately during the consultation period the Government sought fit to make changes which increased the Council’s gap to £57.2m.
The chancellor has recently published a consultation document on the New Homes Bonus grant, setting out proposals to achieve savings of £800m nationally by 2019-20. These include: withholding the Bonus from areas where an authority does not have a Local Plan in place; a reduction in the number of years for which the Bonus is paid from the current 6 years to 4,3, or even 2 years; and adjusting the Bonus to ensure payments are more focussed on local authorities demonstrating a stronger than average commitment to growth.
I would estimate this could have a minimum impact of reducing the overall NHB allocation by at least 33% (£3m) to the Council and could be as high as 66% (£6m) on existing New Homes Bonus allocations, let alone reducing income from future housing growth.
Given the context, I am writing to inform you that at our full Council meeting last night, it was resolved that the Council will no longer set aside 20% of the New Homes Bonus that it receives into a community fund. Your Council will therefore no longer receive its annual allocation.
The Council has made this decision, with some regret, but it is a crucial part of the Council’s plans to recover the £57.2m funding gap it faces.
Given the assumed reduction in funding going forward, the Council will be looking at ways of working with communities on a sustainable basis to achieve desired shared outcomes. To this end we have set aside some money in reserves to facilitate the start of the process illustratively:
- £1m per year to address inequalities and under investment across the borough
- £3m in a reserve for delivery of priority outcomes
I would welcome a conversation as to how our organisation can work further together going forward to provide quality services to our residents.
Councillor David Armstrong”