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Housing spend falls far short of Barker Review's proposals

THE CONSTRUCTION Products Association warned this week that the Government's plans for housing spending still fall far short of recommendations made in the Barker Review last April.

Spending on social housing is set to rise by 50 per cent by 2007-08 with an extra £430 million of direct investment, efficiency savings and an expanded PFI programme.

But the association's economics director, Allan Wilen, warned: 'The Government is aiming to provide an additional 10,000 units of social housing a year but this is still less than half of the 23,000 a year recommended by Kate Barker.'

There will also be £450 million by 2007-08 for the regeneration of communities in the north and Midlands suffering from low housing demand, as well as confirmation of the Government's pledge to make all social housing decent by 2010.

But the Federation of Master Builders warned that the Government's spending on housing repair maintenance and improvement would be hit by the 17.5 per cent VAT rate currently levied on RMI.

External affairs director Andrew Large said: 'You have to question whether this is the most effective way to spend the money when 17.5 per cent of the cash will immediately find its way back into the Treasury.'

The Government has also announced a £150 million Communities Infrastructure fund to support local infrastructure needs on new housing projects.

Chancellor Gordon Brown's plans are contained in the 202 page spending review. Prime Minister Tony Blair said in his foreword: 'The Government is determined that increased resources must be focused on the front-line and deliver improvements in the services that matter to the public.'