By Grainne Cuffe, Local Government Correspondent
A pot of more than £2 million from developers for healthcare has still not been handed to the NHS, according to a new report.
Councils often demand cash from developers to ease the impact of projects on their communities.
The money, secured through what are officially called Section 106 agreements, can go to anything that improves local infrastructure, ensuring it can support the new development, such as healthcare and education.
But according to a report on Freedom of Information requests from think-tank Reform, Lewisham has failed to allocate a significant chunk of the funding it secured between 2013 and 2019.
The council received £3,130,715 through Section 106 agreements for healthcare, but has only allocated £1,008,312 of the money.
A Lewisham council spokeswoman said the Section 106 funding for the NHS was “being spent” and the council “will continue to work with the Clinical Commissioning Group to identify ways to use this funding to deliver investment in vital health infrastructure and services in Lewisham”.
She added: “Section 106 funding for the NHS is being spent.
“In March 2019 we allocated £1m to the Waldron Health Centre to deliver improvements.
“These include supporting the expansion of community-based services, primary care development and the integration of adult social care and health facilities.
“We are actively working with the CCG to allocate the remaining Section 106 funding to develop hubs in three other neighbourhoods, and to identify ways to use this funding to deliver investment in vital health infrastructure and services in Lewisham.”
However the £1 million for the health centre is not part of the more than £2 million of unallocated NHS funds referred to above.
The report also showed that only 36 per cent of the local planning authorities which responded in full to the information requests had secured funds for healthcare infrastructure projects.
And when councils do secure the funds, the NHS often fails to spend it – Lewisham has £882,283 left unspent currently.
From interviews with NHS experts, the report cited “a lack of awareness of the Section 106 process, insufficient expertise and skills among staff, and poor coordination as key barriers to the use of Section 106”.
Please support your local paper by making a donation
Please make cheques payable to “MSI Media Limited” and send by post to South London Press, Unit 112, 160 Bromley Road, Catford, London SE6 2NZ
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has encouraged everyone in the country who can afford to do so to buy a newspaper, and told the Downing Street press briefing recently: “A free country needs a free press, and the newspapers of our country are under significant financial pressure”.
So if you have enjoyed reading this story, and if you can afford to do so, we would be so grateful if you can buy our newspaper or make a donation, which will allow us to continue to bring stories like this one to you both in print and online.