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DAVIES ANNOUNCES SCHEMES TO IMPROVE WELSH SOCIAL HOUSING

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Welsh secretary Ron Davies has announced how Welsh Office funding of£10.6m would be allocated to improve council a...
Welsh secretary Ron Davies has announced how Welsh Office funding of£10.6m would be allocated to improve council and former council estates under the Estate Partnership Programme.

The announcements include continuing support for seven existing schemes and approval for 14 new projects.

Speaking at the Chartered Institute of Housing's Wales branch conference in Llandudno on Friday, Mr Davies said: 'The new schemes will attract an additional£19m from other public and private sources to bring total investment in these projects to£27m on completion.

'This is the first time for some years that new applications under Estate Partnership had been invited,' he said, 'and it will be the first time for many successful authorities to benefit under the programme.'

Mr Davies said the approved schemes included knocking down poor housing and replacing it with a mixture of rented and owner-occupied housing, improving safety, security and the environment and projects to deal with poor estate design, disaffected youth, unemployment and community instability.

'As these approvals recognise, it is not only the physical condition of the housing that matters,' he said. 'We need to look imaginatively at how we manage our social housing and improve the quality of life and the opportunities for those who live there.'

In a wide-ranging speech on housing and related matters, Mr Davies said that establishing the national assembly was one of a series of constitutional reforms being taken forward by the government.

'These changes mark a decisive change from the centralising agenda of our predecessors,' he said. 'They are about improving the quality of government, bringing it closer to the people, making it more accessible and accountable and promoting the interests of the individual.'

He said he wanted to revitalise local democracy in Wales and stressed the importance of councils pursuing best value and spending wisely on housing.

Mr Davies said excellent progress was being made on transferring Tai Cymru's functions to the Welsh Office housing department by January 1999. The new housing department would work to policies set down by the national assembly, which would become the sole government funding body for housing in Wales.

He hoped the national assembly would give a high priority to establishing a national housing strategy and said the Welsh Office was already working on this. Work was also in hand on standardising local authorities' assessments of housing need and working out the housing research and information needs of the assembly.

Note

The Estates Partnership Programme assists councils to fund the costs of transferring housing stock to Registered Social Landlords, and to carry out major works of repairs and improvement to their own stock, where these would otherwise be beyond the capacity of the council to tackle.

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