Lewisham still seeking home for £6m housing budget

The local elections are coming soon and despite Labour's looming clean-sweep of Lewisham, candidates are dutifully going through the motions, with housing top of the agenda. Mayoral favourite, Damien Egan, made social housing central to his bid to win the party nomination.

So the first order of business for the new administration to consider ought to be the borough's £6m cash pile from developers, which is meant to be spent on providing affordable housing, but which has not yet been committed. The Huffington Post reports:

Councils across the UK are hoarding hundreds of millions of pounds set aside for affordable homes, HuffPost UK can reveal.

Data obtained by this website shows more than £375 million is sitting in councils’ bank accounts instead of being used to tackle the housing crisis. Two-thirds of that cash - £235 million - is being held by just 14 councils.

One housing campaigning group labeled the findings as “staggering”, while the National Housing Federation called it “deeply concerning”.

The money comes from a piece of planning law called Section 106 Agreements, which allows councils to get money from developers in exchange for granting planning permission for projects.

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

Reacting to the discovery, Housing Secretary Sajid Javid MP said: “Section 106 payments help deliver the vital infrastructure required for councils to build the homes that this country needs.

“We expect councils to use funding from developers in line with the priorities agreed in their local plans.”

HuffPost UK asked every council in England and Wales to reveal how much they had received in Section 106 monies since 2013/14, how much they had spent and how much was unallocated.

Lewisham is among the top 14 councils hoarding money for affordable housing, with £16.3 million unspent, of which £6 million is uncommitted.

For the full article, click here. Thank you to Jenny for the spot.