Representing estates and facilities professionals operating within the  



NHS fails to claim available funding under Section 106

The NHS is missing out on millions of pounds that could be made available to it through Section 106 planning contributions, according to a report from the think tank Reform. 


Agreements between Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) and developers, known as section 106 planning contributions, can be an important means for the NHS to secure funds to upgrade their estate when housing growth places additional pressures on them. Essentially, Section 106 is a legal agreement that a developer enters into with the local community to mitigate the impact from new housing projects.


However, Reform says that few Trusts are taking advantage of these funds. Between 2013-14 and 2018-19, LPAs captured over £87 million in developer contributions to invest in healthcare infrastructure, yet over £34 million of these funds are currently sitting unspent. 


Reform's research shows that a lack of awareness of the section 106 process, insufficient expertise and skills amongst staff, and poor coordination are key barriers to the use of Section 106. By failing to act, the NHS is missing out on potentially millions of pounds that could go towards improving and delivering vital services for patients.


For example, according to Reform, between 2013-14 and 2018-19, Maidstone Borough Council received £1,954,396 for spending on health, of which £1,812,363 remains unspent.


Reform has made four recommendations, which it believes will help NHS Trusts to secure and benefit from this funding.


• To increase awareness of the role of planning contributions in healthcare amongst NHS Trusts, Clinical Commissioning Groups, and Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships/Integrated Care Systems, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government should work with the Department of Health and Social Care to create national-level guidance for NHS organisations to secure funding through Section 106 contributions as well as disseminating best practice case studies.


• The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government should consider producing standard templates to assist NHS organisations, such as Clinical Commissioning Groups, NHS Trusts and primary care providers, in developing the strategic business case for securing Section 106 contributions from Local Planning Authorities.


• To address the current challenges in securing section 106 planning contributions for primary care infrastructure, Clinical Commissioning Groups, alongside NHS England & NHS Improvement, should conduct an appraisal of the different GP ownership models that would best satisfy the planning requirements of Local Planning Authorities. This would help inform Clinical Commissioning Groups’ future strategic estates plans and further streamline the process for securing planning contributions for GP premises.


• To improve transparency in the planning, allocation and use of planning obligations to deliver community infrastructure, Local Planning Authorities should establish appropriate monitoring processes of planning contributions. This would help track receipts and spending of financial contributions and assess compliance with Section 106 agreements.