Healey gives go-ahead to get new homes back on track

The 10 housing schemes will receive over £10m to complete 740 new homes, part of the Prime Minister’s Housing Pledge announced in June that will help build the homes the country needs, help the country through recession and help people into jobs.

The projects have cleared a tough detailed assessment by the Homes and Communities Agency through the £1bn Kickstart programme, and meet the Government’s tough terms for investment.

Projects benefiting from the funding released include:

– The Steeple Chase project in Redcar, which will provide 141 homes, including 12 apartments to house women fleeing violence. Work will begin in October
– Roebuck in Hellingley, which will help deliver 64 homes, including 28 Homebuy Direct, 18 open market,14 social rented and four low cost homes. Work will start on site in November
– The Fieldways scheme in Poulton, which will help deliver a total 110 homes, including 10 Homebuy Direct homes. Work will start on site in November
– The Fox Walk development in Sandwell, which will deliver 61 homes including 10 Homebuy Direct, seven social rent and eight affordable homes. Work will start in October.

Nine of the ten projects given the go-ahead are run by developers with established apprenticeship schemes. Mr Healey said this is just the start, and developers applying for future Government funding will have to set out plans to offer apprenticeships and jobs to local people.

The Prime Minister’s Housing Pledge has the potential to provide work for 45,000 people in the construction and related industries. The pledge to put apprenticeships and local job opportunities at the heart of this drive could mean the creation of 1,300 apprenticeship places over the next two years.

Mr Healey has set out his plan in a letter to developers and housing chiefs, making clear that if they apply for a share of the Housing Pledge funds they will be required to offer apprenticeships and local jobs.

To demonstrate his intent, the Minister launched the second round of the Kickstart programme and announced the new requirement of all firms bidding for funds to offer apprenticeships and jobs to local people.

John Healey said:

"We are using the power of Government investment to build the homes that people need, help get people into jobs and help Britain through the recession. But I also want to create the career opportunities that our young people deserve.

"I am giving the go-ahead to the first wave of Kickstart funding to ten projects. Collectively, these developments will build 740 new homes, and nine of them are run by developers with established apprenticeship schemes. Construction workers will be back on the first of these sites next month.

"I am telling housebuilders who want to apply for a share of our multi-billion Government investment that they’ll have to offer apprenticeships and local jobs. This way, we make more of every taxpayer’s pound invested in housing, building more homes and creating the chance of training and work for more young people."

Homes and Communities Agency chief executive Sir Bob Kerslake said:

"Kickstart isn’t just about unlocking more homes; it will also be the catalyst that delivers a much-wider set of benefits to local communities including job opportunities, apprenticeships and accommodation for vulnerable people.

"This first set of successful bidders is just the start, we’ll now be working through the remaining bids with the aim of finalising all the allocations for this first round in the next two months to ensure that schemes start-on-site by March 2010."

This Kickstart support comes on tough terms – almost half the money from this must be repaid within five years, over one third will go to housing associations and others to help them manage the affordable housing, and less than one fifth consists of direct grant to support developers. Only developers who have accepted a realistic current market price for their land were eligible for Government investment. All of these projects have gone through a rigorous assessment before getting the green light.

This funding will only be used to make projects that have been mothballed in the current economic climate viable, and is only being provided where developers cannot get support from other sources. It will boost development funding available, reduce levels of risk associated with projects and help support demand from homebuyers through measures such as Homebuy Direct.

Have your say on this story using the comment section below.