Headlines: January 12th, 2010

More than 70 local authorities are to share an extra 122.6 million pounds for council house building in an effective doubling of Government funding for new homes. The Housing Minister, John Healey, said the councils would match this second round grant and that the total public investment in the programme would now be over 500 million pounds.

The money is expected to see the creation of homes for 8,000 people. For the first time, councils getting the money will be required to offer apprenticeships and local job recruitment schemes. Mr. Healey added that the new homes would all be energy efficient and would add to the mixed make-up of local neighbourhoods.

Thirty-five of the 73 councils which will get funding in this second wave will use it to extend house building work which is already underway. The others are getting money for the first time. Eighty-six councils bid for the second round with projects totalling more than double the funds earmarked. Mr. Healey said forty per cent of the homes to be built would be three and four-bedroom family homes, designed to high energy efficiency standards and would often be built alongside private housing.

Sir Bob Kerslake, the chief executive of the Homes and Communities Agency said: “The level of interest has been tremendous and demonstrates the appetite of local authorities to lead directly on affordable housing supply. Deciding between the bids has been challenging, but the outcome is a really strong set of schemes that meet a high standard.”