All local housing authorities in England are eligible to bid for the programme. Last month, I announced grants for 49 successful councils that, in this financial year, will start the biggest council house building programme in this country for nearly two decades.
Is the Minister aware that, despite the long waiting lists for housing in Liverpool, the city council, which holds no housing stock itself, has made no application under the rules? It has, however, recently managed to appoint a new assistant executive director of housing at a salary of £102,000 a year, plus a 10 per cent. bonus. Does my right hon. Friend think that that is in the spirit that the Government are trying to foster in relation to accommodating people in need of housing? Does he also agree that it is typical of Lib Dem authorities?
Like my hon. Friend, I was disappointed that Liverpool did not bid. I was disappointed that it chose not to see the chance to build new council homes for people in the city as a priority, and that, like other flagship Liberal councils in Hull and Newcastle, it did not bid. I am, however, able to ensure that other parts of the housing investment programme mean that, whatever stance the council takes, there will be investment in Liverpool. Last month, I visited a very good Kickstart scheme in Gilead street, where more than 50 new homes will be built as a result of the investment that we are ready to put in to help private developers to kick-start sites that have stalled in the recession.