Millions freed for warm homes

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WORK to improve a backlog of crumbling houses has received a multimillion-pound boost – although less than a landlord had hoped for.

East Durham Homes (EDH) was awarded £116.4million from the Government after it achieved a two-star rating in 2009.

However, amounts of money it expected to be given in stages as part of the deal were reduced a year ago as the Labour-run Government diverted funds to help build new houses elsewhere.

Now the Coalition Government has released cash which will allow EDH to carry out work to make homes warm, watertight and modern as part of the Decent Homes scheme.

Housing bosses, who run EDH as an “arms-length” management organisation for Durham County Council, have said while the money will allow it to carry out a large amount of work, they are disappointed more funds have not been put its way.

As part of the £1.6billion released to 50 councils by housing minister Grant Shapps, Durham County Council, received an allocation of about £69.9million for the next four years.

The money will be divided between EDH and Dale and Valley Homes, with the split to be agreed shortly.

EDH has said it is likely it will receive a significant proportion due to the amount needed to bring all homes up to the standard.

Ninety per cent of its 8,551 homes did not meet the grade when the Audit Commission carried out its inspection.

The Government says the funds will tackle the backlog of “non-decent” homes across the country in preparation for the introduction of what it says will be a fairer system of council house financing.

It has said the change will put councils in control of managing housing stock and help them plan finances in the long term, rather than on a year-by-year basis.

Mr Shapps said: “Too many families live in non-decent accommodation, so I am pleased that so many of them will see a difference to due this funding.”

Paul Tanney, EDH chief executive, said: “While we are disappointed that the amount is lower than requested, this is a significant amount of investment for homes in the East Durham area.

“To ensure as many homes as possible benefit from the funding we will review our programme and consult with customers on a possible revised decent homes standard, which will enable us to address many of the investment issues in our customers’ homes.”