Money for houses

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The Independent Online
From Mr Andrew Smith

Sir: Chris Blackhurst's report concerning local authority capital receipts (16 October) intimates that the pounds 6bn in frozen local authority capital receipts no longer exists and there is only pounds 2bn available. However, the most recent Department of Environment statistics show pounds 6.041bn held by local authorities in provision for credit liabilities set aside. In addition, there is pounds 2bn of usable receipts that is available for spending now.

Labour's housing spokesman, Nick Raynsford MP, has spoken to a large number of local authorities this year on this matter, confirming that substantial capital receipts are available and that many councils are eager to put them to good effect. These are the frozen capital receipts to which Labour's policy refers.

The present Government prohibits local authorities from spending this money on working capital projects. Labour has pledged that these funds would be released in a phased manner, enabling the construction of new social housing to proceed, tackling the acute housing crisis brought about by the Conservatives' policy failure.

Yours sincerely,

Andrew Smith

MP for Oxford East (Lab)

House of Commons

London, SW1

17 October

The writer is Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury.