Whitehall housing policy favours maintenance over management

25 Nov 99
Housing maintenance was this week placed ahead of long-term management improvements when local authorities were given an extra £67m to spend on council house repairs next year.

26 November 1999

Local authority leaders welcomed the money, but pointed out the government had ignored the recommendations of its own policy action team on social exclusion by freezing individual councils' management allowances for the fifth year running.

The £67m devoted to housing maintenance is part of an overall £3.1bn that councils will receive in Housing Revenue Account subsidy in 2000/01 – the final year before the introduction of resource accounting.

The policy action team's report, published in August, pointed out that better local management could improve housing estates and lead to the creation of more sustainable communities.

Paul Lautman, head of housing at the Local Government Association, said it was disappointing the government had not made some attempt to address the recommendations of the policy action team (Pat).

'It's a modest real-term increase for maintenance, but the management allowances continue to be frozen,' he said.

Housing minister Nick Raynsford said that the government was combating years of under-investment in council housing by increasing maintenance allowances for the second successive year.

The only management measure included in his statement on November 22 was the £12m that is being allocated to tenant participation agreements during the next two years, but Lautman said this was only 'pump-priming' money.

John Kettlewell, housing finance manager at the London Borough of Tower Hamlets and CIPFA's representative on the Pat, said that better management could reduce the need for repairs by successfully tackling problems such as vandalism.

'I'm concerned that the split between separate management and maintenance allowances is somewhat artificial,' he added.


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