Chairman blasts government over funding cuts which left developer shouldering social housing costs

The chairman of Weston Homes has blasted the government after a scheme which would have seen up to 750 new flats built in Rainham, Essex, had to be abandoned when the social landlord left the housebuilder to shoulder the bill for social housing costs.

In an open letter to the council, Bob Weston said that the major scheme, which was due to have 25% social housing was axed after the social landlord pulled out of funding for 180 homes.

“I have just had to abandon a major scheme which would have provided over 750 new homes area which sorely needs them as the amount of money the social landlords were initially able to pay for more than 180 homes was drastically cut.

“But by cutting funding which enables social landlords to pay for the affordable homes private developers are willing to build, which are sold to them way below market value as it is, the Government has prevented the scheme it actually approved from going ahead.”

Mr Weston also lambasted the government for the criteria surrounding affordable housing schemes in the UK, stating that funding is not being spent on the poorest households who need it most: “One social landlord has recently been boasting that anyone earning up to £60,000 can qualify for its housing,” Weston said.

“That’s a pay bracket which must apply to at least 95% of the population, as it certainly applies to up to 95% of my own staff. No wonder there is such demand for affordable housing.”

“Whilst I hope the Localism Bill will go some way in cutting the red tape which currently hinders developments in the face of any hint of opposition from an overly influential and vocal minority, against the wishes of the majority, the complex array of taxes and levies which stifle builders must be vastly reduced.

News that the scheme was to be abandoned was welcomed by Rainham council and the local MP, both of whom had opposed the plans.

Speaking to the Romford Recorder, Dagenham and Rainham MP Jon Cruddas said: “I am not at all surprised as house building starts are now at record lows, and government cutbacks have reduced incentives.

“[But] I have to say that every single Rainham resident will welcome this. The local area could not have handled the extra pressures on school places, the NHS, transport infrastructure and police.”