Grant Shapps in HMR 'Luftwaffe' attack
The housing minister has compared the housing market renewal programme to German bombing raids for its impact on homes and communities in the north and midlands.
The astonishing comment was made in a debate in Westminster Hall last night when Grant Shapps was asked about regeneration spending.
The housing market renewal programme was set up by the Labour administration in 2002 to help regenerate areas in the north and the midlands, and received £2.2 billion of funding before it was axed in March 2011.
‘Managed decline was precisely the right description of the housing market renewal programme, which I believe was a national scandal. In fact, I would go as far as to say that the housing market renewal programme was ultimately a huge disappointment,’ Mr Shapps said.
‘I have the figures with me. It destroyed 10 times more homes in this country than it built. Nothing—no programme—did more to destroy homes and communities in this country than the Luftwaffe in the second world war, but the housing market renewal programme did more housing destruction and community destruction than there has been at any time since the war.’
The programme has been criticised for demolishing homes which could have been regenerated and damaging communities.
Clive Betts, Labour MP for Sheffield South East, said: ‘The problem, of course, is that before we do the rebuilding that the minister is talking about, we have to do the demolition. The rebuilding has been stopped to a large extent because the government have now cut off the funding.’
Mr Shapps also accused other politicians of over-emphasising the positive contribution of the programme: ‘As I listened to some of the contributions from across the chamber, my blood was starting to boil. The description of the housing market renewal programme that I heard this afternoon was so distant from the reality on the ground over the 13 years for which it was in place—in fact, it was slightly less than that—as to be a grotesque bending of the truth.’