I want to express my general views on CIL and set it within a context for the record. I tabled an amendment, which I have since withdrawn, on this general issue of what to do with CIL receipts. As a councillor, I was very keen on section 106 funding because not many councillors knew about it, but my colleagues and I did. We used it quite effectively in our ward. The funding is quite constrained, and we would have liked far more discretion on using it outside the immediate area of the development and on more specifically targeted initiatives within the ward. Nevertheless it was very useful. I am pleased to be able to make these comments, because I am confused about section 106 funding and how it fits with CIL
We are looking to increase the discretion and flexibility of local authorities on spending money. I cannot remember the figure for the specific ring-fenced grants that are available to local authorities, but it is very high. That money was freed up by the comprehensive spending review and announced in the local government settlement. One of the strong messages was that at a time when local authorities were facing financial difficulties, they were at least being allowed more discretion over some of their specific funding and direct grants. I welcome that, but why do we not extend it to CIL, too?
It would be helpful if local councillors were allowed to use the proceeds from CIL for purposes other than the building or upgrading of local infrastructure. If they want to spend it on that, let them, but it should be at the discretion of local authorities. That would allow local residents to directly benefit from large developments in their area. The authority itself may want at different times to share out the CIL receipts when it is appropriate to develop areas other than those directly related to a particular development. It gives authorities the ability to time and phase the release of receipts to particular projects. We seek to clarify that issue through any necessary amendments, but the general gist is that we prefer the discretion and would not like to see CIL specifically locked into infrastructure developments.