Tuesday, 25 May 2010

£780m Labour housing pledges was not "fully and securely funded"

Labour ministers promised thousands of new homes would be built despite hundreds of millions of pounds in funding not being secured.

The Department for Communities and Local Government took the highly unusual step of releasing details of the scale of Labour’s largesse in the months before the general election.

A trawl of records showed “the previous Government made commitments that were not fully and securely funded”.

It included an eye-watering £780 million towards housing priorities as part of Gordon Brown’s flagship Housing Pledge.

It is understood that the money – half of a £1.5 billion fund - depended on the Home Office and the health, education and transport departments “underspending” on their annual budgets. This money will now be used to tackle the deficit.

A spokesman for Communities and Local Government said the state of the public finances is “severe”.

David Laws, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, said the government was instead allocating an £170 million to “fund investment in social rented housing in 2010-11, to help deliver 4,000 social housing starts”.

The Homes and Communities Agency is also cutting £50 million from housing market renewal schemes and £30 million from the gypsy and traveller programme.

No new or further commitments will be entered into.

However Labour’s John Healey, the housing minister until the election, claimed the government’s failure to defend the housing budget would lead to cuts in jobs and homes.

"This is bad for the economy, bad for families' and bad for a housebuilding sector that has been kept going through recession by public investment.

"In failing to defend housing, the new ministers at CLG have shown little fight. On the back of David Cameron's downgrading of Housing Minister to a non-Cabinet post, they've made the Treasury's task of public investment cuts much easier.”

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