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LONDON PLEA TO GOVT OVER 'DISASTROUS' HOUSING ALLOCATIONS

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An effective and efficient capital housing programme cannot be delivered unless action is taken to create a more st...
An effective and efficient capital housing programme cannot be delivered unless action is taken to create a more stable system to encourage long term planning and value for money, the Association of London Government has warned.

In a letter to local government and housing minister Hilary Armstrong, sent on behalf of all three major parties, ALG housing chair Pete Challis said that the recent HIP allocations for 1998/99 would be disastrous for some councils and highlighted the weaknesses of the current system.

He voiced three major concerns: the total amount of resources allocated to London, the indicators of need used to decide how much each council gets, and the way the discretion element of the distribution process is used.

'We know that the government is committed to maintaining existing public spending levels, but you will understand the disappointment felt by authorities that the planned housing programme was reduced by a further£70m and that these reductions fell almost entirely on the local authority elements,' Cllr Challis said in the letter.

He said there was particular disappointment that the government had chosen to fully implement the previous government's widely-opposed changes to the factors used to measure housing need, including the removal of all measurement of homelessness and temporary accommodation usage.

'It would have been possible to either reinstate these measurements, or at the very least extend the damping arrangements in order to limit the damage done to certain individual authorities. We are extremely concerned that no such arrangements have been made and that the consequences for some authorities are disastrous.

'Efficient and effective capital programmes cannot be delivered within a framework of almost continual turbulence and massive year on year variations. It is essential that more stable systems are developed which encourage long term planning and value for money from housing investment.'

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