Give us back our £10m for homes’

CAMBOURNE and other South Cambridgeshire villages could have an extra 100 affordable homes every year if the Government stopped siphoning off £10million of the district council s housing cash, says the area s MP. Andrew Lansley has written to Housing Mini

CAMBOURNE and other South Cambridgeshire villages could have an extra 100 affordable homes every year if the Government stopped siphoning off £10million of the district council's housing cash, says the area's MP.

Andrew Lansley has written to Housing Minister Yvette Cooper to complain that her department last year took £8.65million from the council's housing revenue account and £1.4million from housing capital receipts.

He is urging her to let South Cambridgeshire District Council (SCDC) spend the money on new homes in one of the fastest-growing areas in the country instead of subsidising councils elsewhere.

The money would "fund an additional 100 homes a year for rent on exception sites in South Cambridgeshire villages, geared specifically to those young people identified as in need of housing in villages where they have family and other links," he said.

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"I meet dozens of young people who simply cannot set up home in the villages in which they were born and brought up. We have to provide for them and we have the resources to do it, if the Government will let us."

Of just 291 affordable new properties - available for social or key worker housing - 40 of those at Cambourne were earmarked for Cambridge city applicants. Local people were denied access to them, Mr Lansley claimed.

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Even if 50 per cent of new homes had to be "affordable", supply would fail to keep pace with demand, he said.

SCDC, which has more than 6,000 applicants on its waiting lists, decided 18 months ago by a small majority to keep its housing stock, rather than transfer it to a registered social landlord, as Huntingdonshire did in 2000.

There are 6,000 local authority tenant households in South Cambridgeshire.

"The need for affordable housing is one of the results of the economic success of the area and is consistently one of the top priorities of local people," said a spokesman.

But it seems the Government is prepared to bend to some extent under pressure from South Cambs.

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) said that, following a meeting with the council's officers, it had drafted changes to the rules to allow authorities to spend 100 per cent of receipts from some sales on new homes for "shared equity".

This means people who cannot afford to buy outright can purchase part of their home and rent the rest until their financial position improves and they can pay the full mortgage.

But DCLG is sticking to its guns on the lion's share of South Cambridgeshire's housing payments to the Government, the £8.65million.

"If recycling (to other councils) were not part of the subsidy regime, the Treasury would need to find a further £500million to fund deficit authorities," said a spokesman. "This would mean higher taxes or cuts in services.

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