Housing minister confirms DCMS and communties department both to withdraw funding

Housing minister Grant Shapps said the communities department will examine whether it can take on any of the functions of design quango Cabe, which he confirmed is to be axed today.

This comes as the design quango, which was formed in the wake of Richard Rogers’ Urban Task Force in 1999, confirmed it was to have funding withdrawn.

Shapps said: “We’ll have to look at whether any of it’s functions can be taken on by the CLG.”

The communities department, at which Shapps is minister, is not Cabe ministerial sponsor, but provides the majority of Cabe’s funding.

Shapps defended the decision, which Building understands came after sponsor department the DCMS made it clear it could no longer afford to sponsor and fund the body. Shapps did not comment on this directly, but said: “I have campaigned hard to reduce the number of quangos in government. You wouldn’t expect me to agree to sponsor a new quango at this point.”

In a statement the agency said it was surprised and bitterly disappointed by the decision. It said CABE had worked hard with Government in recent months to create low-cost ways to ensure that people could get practical advice and support to create a good quality built environment. It said: “The quality of housing, schools, streets and parks has a major impact on everyone’s life, every day. Indeed, the quality of your local neighbourhood matters even more in tough economic times. We are surprised to see that no resources at all can be found from the Culture programme to deliver the Government’s commitment to this area of public life.”  

Cabe will now look at whether it can continue on a commercial or privately-funded basis.

Paul Finch, chairman of CABE, said: “We are very proud of our achievements so far, from the high profile design reviews of the Olympic programme to the less well known support to planning teams and developers up and down the country as they try to create places that look good and work well for everyone. I know there are literally thousands of new buildings, parks and streets which are better because of CABE’s support. I believe the reasons for that work remain and will become ever more relevant to the future of this country.”

A spokesperson for the DCMS said: “Regretfully, the organisation won’t be continuing. Now we have to look at ways of delivering the services through other means, through discussions with Cabe and the communities department.”

The decision will anger many architects, although the body has been controversial amongst developers. Architect Angela Brady, president elect at the Riba, said before the decision: “I know first hand the value Cabe brings. The country needs Cabe - they certainly shouldn’t abolish it.”