Steve Slams Shapps(July 07, 2011)
One of the coalition government’s maddest axemen is housing minister Grant Shapps.
And his decision to axe the housing market renewal programme is the maddest yet.
It will leave Liverpool trailing behind other cities in its ability to recover from the recession.
The programme was aimed at improving deprived neighbourhoods, encouraging people to live and work in them and renewing failing markets.
To see what can be done we only have to look at Newcastle where funding of £60m attracted £400m in private investment and delivered 4,000 new homes.
Compare that to the £127m cut in Liverpool funding.
Mr Shapps has instead pledged a puny £30m shared between five regions.
Not nearly enough to stop the most needy areas falling back into a cycle of neglect, decay and falling city populations.
The issue will this week return to haunt Mr Shapps when MPs flock to sign a motion tabled by Walton’s Steve Rotheram highlighting the threat to genuine renewal.
“This programme was an essential part of regeneration in my constituency and it makes a mockery of the government’s claim that we are all in this together,” he said.
“This was a 10-15-year programme which the government has cut in its eighth year.
“You can’t build a house overnight, it takes time and investment... something that Mr Shapps doesn’t seem to understand.”
Earlier this year Mr Shapps said: “We are committed to helping vulnerable people and will not stand by when residents are stranded in derelict neighbourhoods.”
It’s a pity his actions don’t match his words.
Once again the deficit is being used to justify short-term cuts which make no sense at all in terms of wise investment for an economic recovery.
The Audit Commission estimated that the renewal programme, in its first eight years, acted as a catalyst for £5.8bn in economic activity nationwide, created more than 19,000 construction jobs, refurbished 108,000 homes and completed 15,000 new properties.
The watchdogs forecast that it would have created 30,000 more in Merseyside, Hull, Teeside and Oldham.
All that progress has now been thrown into reverse.