Darlington and Stockton Times
A few days ago Gordon Brown made a new housing pledge - £1.5 billion as part of the Building Britain's Future programme. The money was to pay for up to 20,000 homes for those on low incomes and on council house waiting lists. However, behind the good news electioneering - a by election was looming in Norwich - lies a sorry tale. One of robbing Peter to pay Paul.
The money to be used is not new money. Departments at Whitehall are to make cutbacks. Money is being taken from housing and infrastructure projects where councils may already have commitments. The Department of Communities and Local Government will take money from existing housing programmes as well as funds for refurbishing council and private tenancies.
A £225 million raid on the Home Improvements budget will mean that many families will miss out on insulation and other improvements. Families will remain in homes below the Government's Decent Homes Standard for a Government vote catching headline.
In addition many councils will lose money from capital allocations they intended for new homes building. More than 42% of the funding for areas that have been assessed by the Government as needing new homes has been cut. This will mean that developments are cut back, delayed or cancelled.
Budgets for the funding of infrastructure like transport and the protection of greenspaces have also been cut.
The message is clearly - when the struggling Labour Government makes promises - watch out for the small print.
Parliamentary Spokesperson Stockton South