Government plunders cash for new city homes

July 22, 2009 11:22 AM
Catherine Smart

Councillor Catherine Smart

Cash to provide new social housing in Cambridge has been plundered by the government.

The move has put 1,020 new homes on the city's southern fringes at risk and left Liberal Democrats reeling.

They have accused the government of betraying Cambridge and putting in jeopardy new rented and shared equity homes planned for Clay Farm and Glebe Farm in Trumpington.

Cambridgeshire had been promised £13.7 million over a three year period from the government's Housing Growth Fund, including £9 million for Cambridge. The fund was set up to provide local authorities in growth areas much-needed finance for infrastructure to support new homes.

But on Friday Cambridgeshire County Council received a letter from the government saying that the total would be cut by £6 million in the second year.

Liberal Democrats fear the money is being hived off to support other areas across the country, including those with marginal Labour seats such as Portsmouth and Birmingham.

Cambridge City Council leader, Ian Nimmo-Smith said: "The government has betrayed Cambridge. It has put at risk our plans to provide much needed social housing at a time when the need for housing is soaring.

"The government has taken the money which was promised for these housing schemes in a desperate attempt to shore up its vote in marginal constituencies without regard for the consequences."

Liberal Democrats claim that, on the one hand, the government is promising to "Kick Start" the economy with cash to get building schemes, stalled by the recession, started again. But on the other it is taking money away from projects already underway.

Cambridge City Executive Councillor for Housing, Catherine Smart said: "We have been left in a dire situation by the government. We have a growing waiting list of people who desperately need social housing in Cambridge and yet the government is doing its best to destroy our attempts to help these people.

"There has been no discussion or any warning. The government just announced it was taking the money away from Cambridge to put into schemes in the north of England - where the need for housing is nothing like as great as in Cambridge but which happen to be in marginal Labour constituencies. It seems Cambridge people in need of homes don't count in the eyes of this Labour government."

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