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LIB DEMS SEEK GREATER FLEXIBILITY OVER LOCAL HOUSING SPENDING

February 2, 2010 11:05 AM

Nick Harvey is one of the sponsors of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (Amendment) Bill tabled by Simon Hughes MP, Liberal Democrat Shadow Energy & Climate Change Secretary. This seeks to write into law a provision to allow councils to use money they receive from developers to build or improve social housing.

Across England there is a social housing crisis with too few homes and many of them in a state of disrepair. However, at present councils are restricted to using the money to fund infrastructure projects or community projects - even where infrastructure is already of a high standard.

This restriction has led to some cases where money has been used to finance projects of marginal importance - such as in Tower Hamlets where money was spent on chiropody sessions for local residents.

Simon's bill will allow councils to use existing and future streams of income from developers to carry out urgent renovations to local housing stock or to build new homes. Speaking ahead of the bill coming before the Commons last week Simon Hughes said:

"New developments often cause disruption and grief for existing local residents who can't understand why they often get no help to improve their own housing or to see more new affordable homes built in the local community. My bill will change this

"If my bill becomes law everyone is a winner. This bill will help councils to fund urgent improvements to local housing, and help individuals and families who are waiting for a home or improvement of their home to have the decent housing they need."

Nick adds: "This is an eminently sensible move and would give local authorities much greater flexibility in helping to fund social housing. While infrastructure and community projects are important it would provide local authorities wider spending options."