Prescott’s building bonanza set to benefit public sector workers

Deputy prime minister John Prescott outlined plans last week to
invest £4bn into building low-cost homes in areas of high
demand. A quarter of this money will be for the development of
housing for key public sector workers.

The money is part of the government’s Sustainable
, which will see £22bn invested over the next
three years to rejuvenate deprived communities, increase low-cost
housing and tackle homelessness in England. Of this, £2.8bn
will be used to improve council housing.

Key workers will include those in education, health and police. The
deputy prime minister may consult over whether social workers will
be included. Meanwhile, regional housing boards will be allowed to
draw up their own priorities based on need.

The government is also allocating £260m to help tackle the
“structural causes of homelessness and its significant underlying
personal causes”.

The plan predicts it will take 15 to 20 years for real change to be
achieved. Prescott described it as a change in the government’s
approach to communities. He said: “It is essential to tackle the
challenge of a rapidly changing population, the needs of the
economy, serious housing shortages in London and the South East and
the impact of housing abandonment in the North and Midlands.”

The government has also produced regional action plans for England
that detail the resources, partnerships and policies it will
establish to help create sustainable communities.

Local Government Association chairperson Sir Jeremy Beecham said
the government must now let local communities drive the plan

Shelter’s director of policy Alan Jackson said that the
government’s plans for affordable housing must not be derailed by
local opposition.

“There are those that oppose new housing development at any cost –
for too long this Nimbyist agenda has held sway,” he said. 

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