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Council fury at local programme cuts

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Council chiefs have criticised a ministerial decision to cut key local funding programmes that will pay for part of the government’s affordable house-building drive.

Around £278m worth of funding from the Growth Fund and the Decent Homes programme is to be axed, prompting the Local Government Association to demand an urgent meeting with housing minister John Healey. 

The raid will see £150m cut from the arm’s-length management organisations’ (ALMOs) Decent Homes project to refurbish and renovate properties.

An LGA spokesman said: “It is deeply worrying that funding to bring housing for some of the country’s most vulnerable people up to a minimum decent standard should be withdrawn in this way.”

The loss of growth point funding is a real blow to many local authorities across the east of England

Neil Darwin, Regional Cities East

The National Federation of ALMOs (NFA) accused the government of making a “serious error of judgment” and urged ministers to honour their promises.

Meanwhile, £128m is to be taken from the Growth Fund, a pot for delivery of infrastructure in England’s growth areas.

Neil Darwin, director of Regional Cities East which represents six cities in the east of England, including Peterborough and Luton, said: “The loss of growth point funding is a real blow to many local authorities across the east of England.

“As a region, the east of England faces the biggest challenge for housing delivery in the country and the growth point funding is essential to support our efforts.”

The £1.5bn house-building programme was unveiled as part of the Building Britain’s Future document but the housing minister initially refused to reveal from where its funding would come.

Around £930m will be contributed by other departments, including the Home Office and Department of Health, leaving £570m to come from the Department for Communities & Local Government and Homes & Communities Agency (HCA) budgets and efficiency savings.

A DCLG statement said that £183m of that would come from “efficient and flexible management of its housing and regeneration programmes” while a further £109m will be made in HCA efficiency savings.

Mr Healey said: “We have had to make some tough decisions across government about where we spend our money.”   

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