Housing trusts prove costly

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Indy Politics
Housing Action Trusts, designed to regenerate some of Britain's worst council estates, have proved to be extremely expensive with each new home in one scheme costing pounds 122,400, according to a report by the National Audit Office.

While the report into the Waltham Forest housing action trust found that the scheme had been broadly successful, it suggests that the improvements have been bought at a very high costs. The Waltham Forest HAT, which comprises 2,422 homes on four estates of mostly medium- and high-rise flats will cost pounds 227m by the time work on the area, involving the demolition of the existing estates and the provision of new homes, is complete in five years.

The costs appear so high because they include various environmental improvements as well as schemes to improve amenities such as childcare. Tenants were given the opportunity to have a say in the way that they wanted the estates to be improved and were given guarantees on their rights to remain tenants. They also receive employment advice and help in claiming housing benefits.

The Waltham Forest HAT was one of six created by the Government in the early 1990s as part of a much-vaunted plan to improve the inner cities, and it had hoped to involve the private sector in bringing about the improvements. However, because of the high costs and the guarantees given to tenants, private investors have shunned the scheme and the government has not declared any new HATs since the summer of 1994.

The NAO found that the cost of the six HATs will be close to pounds 1.1bn, providing new or refurbished homes for 17,000 tenants.

National Audit Office, Waltham Forest HAT: Progress in Regenerating Housing Estates House of Commons Paper 207, HMSO, pounds 10.75.