THE first UK council house building programme in two decades will provide 40 new homes in Swindon, the Government announced yesterday.

Unveiling the winners of the second round of funding to help local authorities build new homes over the next year or so, Housing Minister John Healey said Swindon Council would receive £1.7m to support the construction of 25 homes in Marlowe Avenue, Walcot, and two in Beech Avenue, Pinehurst.

It followed the announcement, last September, that the council would receive almost £780,000 under the first round of funding to support the construction of a further 13 new homes on a separate site.

Meanwhile, it was revealed that Wiltshire Council will receive £1.1m for 17 new homes in Southview, Bradford-on-Avon – on top of the £3.1m it was allocated for 47 homes across four sites last autumn.

However, the move – designed to help local authorities address a critical shortage of affordable housing – represented a drop in the ocean when set against the thousands of families languishing on housing waiting lists in the county.

Across England, the Government said it was giving £122m to 73 councils to support a further 1,930 new council homes. Local authorities are expected to match the central funding with similar investments of their own. The announcement brought the total amount allocated by Government since last autumn to more than £260m and the number of new homes backed to 4,104 – making it the “biggest council house building programme in two decades”, according to Mr Healey.

As a condition for receiving funding, councils have had to promise to put in place apprenticeship and job schemes. It is hoped the new schemes will create 7,500 jobs and 100 apprenticeship places across the country.