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Last Updated: Friday, 1 June 2007, 05:37 GMT 06:37 UK
Kelly accused of 'missed chances'
Ruth Kelly
Ms Kelly's department say she has overseen major reforms
Ruth Kelly has been accused of wasted opportunities and "incompetence" in her first year as communities secretary.

The Lib Dems have drawn up a report on Ms Kelly, measuring her against her own objectives, and say she has fallen "woefully short" of what was required.

The "bungled" home information packs and lack of affordable homes and council tax reform are highlighted.

But a spokeswoman for Ms Kelly said the report was "flawed" and she had brought major reforms across the department.

The Lib Dems say they have measured Ms Kelly against her own pledges for the department, made in a letter to Tony Blair in July 2006.

Housing shortage

These included greater home ownership, an increase in housing supply, tackling climate change and a sustainable local government finance system.

But the Lib Dems flag up housing in particular as an area where they say she has failed, adding that numbers of owner-occupied properties in England fell by 25,000 in 2006, to just over 14.6m.

They also say the "debacle" over the introduction of Home Information Packs - delayed by the government in May - has brought disruption to the market, and undermined attempts to tackle climate change.

Ruth Kelly also missed the best chance for a decade to scrap the unfair council tax which millions of families struggle to pay every year
Andrew Stunell

The packs would have included energy performance certificates measuring a home's efficiency - but will now only apply to homes with at least four bedrooms.

The report also says fewer new homes are being built - in the first quarter of 2007 there were 43,600 - a 9% drop on the same period in 2006.

And it argues that Ms Kelly failed to put Sir Michael Lyon's recommendations on council tax reform into practice, and failed to address the underlying causes of extremism by refusing to admit the effect of the Iraq war.

Waiting lists

On one topic - the planning White Paper published last week - the Lib Dems acknowledge "positive developments".

Lib Dem communities spokesman Andrew Stunell said: "The bungled introduction of Home Information Packs is only the most recent example of a year riddled by incompetence and missed opportunities.

Ruth Kelly has been delivering major reform across every single policy portfolio of the department
Spokeswoman for Ruth Kelly

"Millions of people are left on waiting lists for social housing while thousands of young people struggle to get on the first run of the housing ladder.

"Ruth Kelly also missed the best chance for a decade to scrap the unfair council tax which millions of families struggle to pay every year."

But a spokeswoman for Ms Kelly described the report as "a fundamentally flaky and flawed little document".

"Ruth Kelly has been delivering major reform across every single policy portfolio of the department," she said.

"In the last year alone we have delivered a radical and devolutionary Local Government White Paper widely welcomed by local government, the most significant planning reforms for years, a major review of social housing, accelerated house building and introduced reforms to go further," she said.

These included; setting new targets to make all new homes "zero carbon" to help tackle climate change, bringing in new anti-discrimination laws for gay, lesbian and bisexual people, and raising "to a new level" work with Muslim communities to tackle extremism.




SEE ALSO
Home info packs delayed to August
22 May 07 |  UK Politics
Planning shake-up for big schemes
21 May 07 |  UK Politics
Minister calls for housing help
13 Feb 07 |  UK Politics
Pilot projects target extremism
07 Feb 07 |  UK Politics
No exemption from gay rights law
29 Jan 07 |  UK Politics
Profile: Ruth Kelly
08 Jan 07 |  UK Politics
Green schemes for Thames Gateway
22 Nov 06 |  England
Kelly denies Muslims 'demonised'
16 Oct 06 |  UK Politics

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