Uttlesford gets spending boost Christmas present from Government

Uttlesford District Council's offices

Uttlesford District Council's offices - Credit: Archant

Christmas has come early for Uttlesford District Council (UDC) after it was revealed the authority will get the biggest increase in spending power of any district council in the country.

Uttlesford is to receive a total Government grant of £5.9million for the next financial year – an increase of six per cent on 2013/14.

Taking into account other assumed income, it will equate to an increase in spending power of 4.9 per cent.

The spike in cash is not from core funding, however, but as a reward for building 547 homes in the district over the past 12 months.

Like other councils, Uttlesford has seen its core funding grant slashed, this time by 20 per cent from £2million to £1.6million.

Last year it was a similar story as the district council had a seven per cent cut.

It is all part of the Government’s move to give councils an incentive to build homes and the authority is anticipating more reliance on the New Homes Bonus grant as core funding continues to be whittled down in the coming years.

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Cllr Robert Chambers, UDCs cabinet member for finance, said: “We are grateful for the additional funds from central government and we are pleased that we are in a sound financial position going forward.

“We are now looking at ways in which we can use this extra funding that best benefits our local community and the services which we offer. For example, we will be reviewing our Council Tax level and will be looking at our community grants and projects to identify how we can bring the most significant benefits to our residents and businesses.

“Since 2010 our core funding from the government has been cut by 60 per cent. The way that all local authorities are being funded is undergoing radical transformation and the New Homes Bonus, which is given to councils based on the number of homes being built in their borough or district, is becoming an increasingly important source of money to ensure that Uttlesford and all local authorities nationally can continue to deliver vital public services.

“By 2016 district council services will be mainly funded by Council Tax contributions, additional business rates and the New Homes Bonus.”

The council’s New Homes Bonus grant for 2014/15 includes a reward for delivering 114 new affordable homes and bringing 74 empty homes back into use, equating to a total increase of 621 homes between October 2012-13.