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EDITIONS
Monday, 15 July, 2002, 17:11 GMT 18:11 UK
Housing budget gets lift
Possible housing sites
John Prescott will reveal the details on Thursday
Social housing has received a 1.4bn boost from Chancellor Gordon Brown in an effort to help key public sector workers buy homes.

He said the housing and planning budget would be increased from 3.3bn to 4.7bn over the next three years.

Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott will reveal detailed plans of the house-building programme on Thursday, expected to focus on London and South-East England.


It is crucial this money is targeted at those suffering the misery of homelessness

Ben Jackson
Shelter

It is estimated that about 28,000 new affordable homes are needed in the capital alone, where high house prices are blamed for problems in recruiting teachers and nurses.

The Local Government Association (LGA) survey highlighted problems such as a 167% increase in teacher vacancies in Surrey between January 2000 and January 2001.

The average house price for Greater London is now 214,257 and 155,080 in the south-east.

Fueling sprawl?

There is speculation that Mr Prescott will announce 200,000 new affordable homes in the south-east.

Projects in Essex, Stansted and the Thames Gateway are apparently being considered.

Existing schemes such as in Croydon, where a 64-home development offers key workers a home at a third of the market price, have been hailed a success.

Housing promises
New business planning zones to improve investment
Higher density developments to protect greenbelt
Speeding up of planning appeals
Incentives for councils to improve planning system
Targeting poor quality rented homes
Cash to revive the housing market in areas of low demand

Tony Newman, who heads housing on the Association of London Government, told BBC News the extra cash would enable London boroughs to begin to address housing shortages.

He added: "It's absolutely vital that we seize this opportunity and ensure in the coming years that future investment is committed by the government to allow us to tackle these problems once and for all."

Sue Ellenby, of the National Housing Association, welcomed the announcement, but said it was only about half the money required.

But Neil Sinden, assistant director at the Council for the Protection of Rural England said: "The extra money will help deliver much needed social housing but it must be used to underpin urban regeneration, otherwise it will only fuel further greenfield sprawl and community opposition."

Reforms

Liberal Democrat housing spokesman Adrian Sanders called for more attention to be paid to housing shortages in rural areas.

And Ben Jackson, director of external affairs at Shelter, said it was crucial the new money targeted the people most in need.

The extra cash - which compares with a housing budget of 2.3bn in 1997 when Labour came to power - was announced alongside a series of reforms to housing and planning.

For example, regional housing bodies will bring together housing investment and planning, and try to improve links with transport and economic development.

The government's plans for future spending are published on 15 July

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See also:

05 Jul 02 | UK Politics
01 Jul 02 | Business
01 Jul 02 | Business
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