City gets meagre government grant after losing housing millions

September 11, 2009 11:13 AM

Howarth and bannerCambridge has been given back just £300,000 from the £6 million "robbed" by the government.

The meager handout means that the city can fund only seven new homes - a fraction of the number it planned.

And the city council has had to sign up to finishing the homes by April 2011 to qualify for the cash.

The deadline meant that ambitious schemes to replace old social housing with new homes could not be carried out because there was not enough time to temporarily re-house residents and demolish properties.

The announcement has angered Cambridge MP David Howarth who has accused Labour of putting unrealistic deadlines on the grant handout in a bid to improve its election prospects.

He said: "Cambridge was robbed of £6 million it was promised under the Housing Growth Fund and the government's unrealistic deadline meant it was unable to claim most of the money back.

"I am convinced the deadline was put in place so that the government would have evidence to show that it was promoting housing growth across the country as Labour prepares to go to the polls.

"If Cambridge were given a more realistic deadline, it would have had the opportunity to bid for ambitious schemes for high quality, sustainable housing to replace some of the older social housing in the city.

"But, instead, the city has been short-changed by a government more interested in scoring political points than helping the people of Cambridge. Again, we have seen hollow promises which have come to nothing."

The money comes from a £100 million pot of cash available to local authorities across the country.

The tight deadline for building meant that Cambridge was the only city across the eastern region to bid for a share of the money. The rest will be shared out among 46 other councils - many of whom have asked for grants to build hundreds of new homes on open space.

Mr Howarth wrote to Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, several months ago, challenging the government's decision to cut the promised £13.5 million Housing Growth Fund by £6 million.

The decision left plans for 1,020 social homes on the city's southern fringes at Clay Farm and Glebe Farm, Trumpington hanging in the balance.

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