Laura Sharman 30 March 2015

Betts accuses Pickles of sitting idly on housing cash

Eric Pickles has been accused of allowing funding earmarked for house building to ‘sit idly’ in his department’s coffers, by MP Clive Betts.

Mr Betts, chair of the Communities and Local Government Committee, said he was concerned money intended for the Build to Rent programme was ‘swishing around the department’s bank accounts’.

He said: ‘The Build to Rent Fund was supposed to provide equity finance to get much-needed private rented housing off the ground.

‘However, the Government has now announced that some 80% of the fund will be ‘reprofiled’, meaning spending will be deferred to future years rather than starting to help people now.’

Mr Betts also said he had ‘serious’ concerns about the delivery of affordable housing, with housing providers failing to make use of funding streams.

‘The first round of the affordable homes programme received fewer bids than the Government expected,’ he said. ‘Instead of spending money on affordable homes, the Government is now left holding it back in the hope that more housing associations will come forward. I fear that the shortage of bids is the result of housing associations finding their capacity increasingly stretched.’

In a letter to Mr Betts, Mr Pickles said the re-profiling of allocations was ‘good financial management’ on behalf of the department and would ensure contracts provided best value for money.

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