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Housing Market Renewal

Volume 513: debated on Thursday 15 July 2010

9. If he will take steps to reduce expenditure by his Department’s non-departmental public bodies on the housing market renewal pathfinder programme. (8508)

The housing market renewal programme was included in the £6.2 billion of savings from Government spending in this year, as announced on 24 May. The Regenerate Pennine Lancashire pathfinder has been consulted on the reductions in my hon. Friend’s area.

Although I welcome the HMR pathfinder programme, which has delivered massive housing regeneration in many areas across the UK, including my constituency, will the Minister look into both the system of passporting proposals for regeneration and the funding stream, following Government approval, from the HCA to the local authorities? The present delivery quango, which sits between the HCA and the local authorities, top-slices an average of 10% of the funds available, which equates to approximately £40 million for 2008-09, while delivering little benefit on the ground—

I thank my hon. Friend, who I know has done a lot of work in looking at the administrative costs of the process. One of the things that we will be examining closely is how those costs can be reduced and how local authorities can have more control over the process.

The hon. Member for Burnley (Gordon Birtwistle) raises an important question, but what is the Minister’s answer to the current Lib Dem leader of Burnley council, who has said of this Government’s financial settlement:

“We are a deprived borough but once again we are suffering. I am disappointed and sick of us being kicked by budget cuts in Burnley”?

Is it not the case that the Minister has ensured that it is the poorest and most deprived councils in this country that are suffering the most?

I am disappointed with that. What the Opposition have not appreciated is that my hon. Friend the Member for Burnley made the very fair point that far too much of the money is top-sliced and siphoned off, and does not produce the renewal that it is supposed to. That is what we are committed to putting right.