East Devon job risk warning from Shelter charity

PUBLISHED: 15:32 17 June 2010 | UPDATED: 13:53 18 June 2010

A NATIONAL housing charity has warned that Government cuts to housing could put East Devon jobs at risk and the district could spiral into a major housing crisis.

A NATIONAL housing charity has warned that Government cuts to housing could put East Devon jobs at risk and the district could spiral into a major housing crisis.

As Government prepares to slash spending Shelter says for every pound cut from investment in housing, the economy will take a hit of at least £3.50.

They say cutting £760 million to this year's housing budget would mean 12,625 less homes built, 19,000 job losses and a cost of £2.7 billion to the economy.

This could place jobs at risk; in East Devon 5,600 are employed in the construction industry, 9.5 per cent of all those in work, above the national average of 7.7 per cent.

Housing investment, they say, must be ring-fenced to support house building so homes are delivered and jobs in East Devon protected.

Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter, said: "On top of the 4,381 households on waiting lists in East Devon who desperately need new homes, this research also shows how crucial house building is ...providing vital jobs and economic growth.

"Government (must)...consider the impact that cutting housing investment will have on employment in East Devon.

"The shortage of affordable housing in East Devon means it will already take more than 12 years to house everyone on its waiting list.

"Each year that we fail to deliver enough homes the backlog will grow greater, pushing us deeper and deeper into a housing crisis that will become impossible to get out of."

Councillor Ray Franklin, Portfolio Holder for Regeneration, said: "East Devon District Council is actively exploring ways of meeting housing need locally through building and other initiatives.

"We have a number of schemes awaiting funding approval (and) we are exploring how the schemes might be delivered without public subsidy ...

"We are also exploring ...more council new build through changes ...to the Housing Revenue Account, which will provide more funding to improve council owned homes and 'headroom' to build new homes."

He said they were looking at council-owned 'free' land to build more homes:

"....policies are being formulated that take account of the economic situation ...to maintain a 'pipeline' of schemes.

"We are also putting more effort into the use of the private rented sector, rent deposit and leasing schemes, use of empty homes and so on to compensate for lower numbers of new-build affordable housing."

He said EDDC had "an enviable record of winning funding for schemes that are aimed to deliver the triple whammy of housing, employment and sustainability.

"We are confident that we can turn any challenge such as that painted by Shelter into an opportunity.

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