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24Feb94 UK: BODIES JOIN FIGHT FOR MORE HOMES FUNDING.

Two industry organisations have joined forces to press the Government to increase funding to repair private homes.The Building Employers Confederation and the Federation of Master Builders want the Department of the Environment to increase renovation grants from £329 million this year to £564 million for each of the next seven years.This level of funding would reduce the number of unfit private-owned homes identified in the English House Condition Survey 1991 to fewer than 1 million by 2001.But William Lowry, who chaired the BEC/FMB working party, warned: 'The DoE has indicated that funding of renovation grants will be reduced over the next three years.'The working party has launched a report, English Homes: a National Asset?Mr Lowry said: 'We hope to meet Sir George Young next month and we will also be lobbying support from MPs. If the Government wants to reduce the number of unfit homes it must spend more money now.'The English House Condition Survey 1991, published last autumn, revealed that 1.46 million homes are statutorily unfit and most of these are privately-owned.The BEC/FMB working party estimates £3.26 billion would need to be spent between 1994 and 2001 to cut the number of unfit homes in the private sector to the minimum level.The working party's key recommendations are an increase in mandatory grants, the introduction of legislation to target grants to unfit rented property and for the Government to set a performance target to cut the number of unfit homes to 5 per cent or less of total housing stock.The working party wants mandatory grants for energy conservation work, such as insulation, to be wholly-funded by central Government. CONSTRUCTION NEWS