Thursday, 24 April 2014

North west gets smallest rise in social housing cash

Critics say system is weighted in favour of London and the south

The north west is facing the toughest settlement in social housing funding of all English regions, figures released by the government have revealed.

Its pot for affordable housing for 2007/11 has increased the least of the nine regions - by only 16 per cent compared with the previous three years, according to government figures.

The east midlands had the second smallest increase, at 18 per cent, while the south west received the biggest hike of 50 per cent.

Peter Hart, regional housing manager for the north west regional assembly, said he was disappointed with what he described as a 'hard settlement'.

Mr Hart disputed the government's 16 per cent figure, saying that the assembly's own calculations put it at just 12 per cent. 'Nationally, we welcome the increases in resources. The problem is in previous [comprehensive spending review] funding allocations we had a freeze when other regions saw increases in their revenue. So to get the lowest increase is difficult to handle.'

Ian Perry, chief executive of Harvest Housing, said the north had not made its case clear enough.

Harvest had been 'gearing up' for growth, he added. 'We were planning to build lots more homes over the next three years because we'd expected the increase in overall allocation would be more equal.'

George Davies, chair of the north west housing forum, said that the way government worked out allocations was weighted in favour of London and the south.

'If this region is to compete effectively on economic terms with the rest of the country it needs a good housing offer,' he said. 'Failure to invest in housing in the north west will inevitably impact on our plans for economic growth.'

Steve Jennings, chief executive of Weaver Vale Housing Trust and chair of the Cheshire Housing Alliance, said his county was being overlooked. 'Cheshire is categorised by high land values and is suffering an affordability crisis similar to that of the south,' he said. 'The increase of 16 per cent is the lowest in the country and doesn't adequately reflect the very real affordability problems we're experiencing.'

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