Local MP Alex Cunningham today attacked the government’s plans to £1.6 million designed to protect the Tees Valley’s fragile housing market and communities. The MP for Stockton North argued that the plans would disproportionately target the communities which had suffered the most from the economic downturn and accused the government of abandoning those most in need.
The MP’s comments come after the Government confirmed plans to cut £50m from the Housing Market Renewal (HMR) Pathfinders scheme. The scheme brings together local authorities, Regional Development Agencies and local public and private sector leaders, to improve, develop and invest in the area’s infrastructure and quality of life.
Since 2002 over £31.3 million has been spent in the Tees Valley, however Labour plans for future investment of £10 million have been cut by £1.6 million since the Coalition Government came to power. The frontline cuts to HMR will dramatically affect the region’s ability to recover from the effects of the economic downturn.
In addition to the cuts already announced, Housing Minister Grant Shapps has put the whole HMR scheme under review, with many expecting the coalition to axe more funding after the summer.
In 2007 the National Audit Commission reported that more than 7,000 homes were built or converted in Pathfinder areas in 2007/2008 alone.
In Stockton Borough the budget was £3,722,030. Now with a cut of 17.5% the Council is left with , just £3,071,345 – a cut of £650,000.
Alex said: “To target the communities which most need investment after bearing the brunt of the recession is unforgivable. It also means lost construction jobs. The government should hang their heads in shame that they are cutting millions of pounds in regeneration funding from an area of this country in most need.”
Rt Hon John Healey MP, Shadow Minister for Housing and Planning, said:
“Areas like the Tees Valley which need this help the most are being hit hardest by the new Government’s housing cuts.
“Now is exactly the wrong time to be cutting back investment in long term regeneration. And it’s clear the Tory-Lib Dem Government will scrap the whole scheme after the summer, if they can get away with it.”