The chief executive of Manningham Housing Association (MHA) has written to Michael Gove questioning why the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) failed to spend almost £2 billion of allocated funding to deliver more affordable homes.
In his letter, Lee Bloomfield added: “It is a shame that neither you nor your officials chose to visit Bradford district before handing these resources back.”
Mr Bloomfield wrote to the Levelling Up Secretary after figures released under the Freedom of Information Act showed that (DLUHC) returned £1.9 billion of funds intended to tackle the national housing crisis after apparently being unable to find projects to spend this money on.
It is believed the figure includes £355m of the programmed spending on the Affordable Homes Programme for 2022-23 which could have financed the building of at least 5,000 new homes.
The MHA chief executive wrote: “If this is indeed the case, it is a shame that neither you nor your officials chose to visit Bradford district before handing these resources back. I did write to you on 20 October 2021 extending an invitation for you to see first-hand the progress MHA is making in delivering high-quality affordable homes and other services to diverse communities in Bradford and Keighley. Sadly, I did not receive a response.”
He advised Mr Gove that MHA manages over 1,400 homes for more than 6,000 people, adding: “However, demand is huge. 3,359 people are currently on our waiting list for an MHA home. 1,551 of these need a home of more than three bedrooms. As you might imagine, to read that Government resources to help us meet this demand have simply been handed back is more than a little disappointing from our perspective.”
In his letter, Mr Bloomfield stressed that, whilst he did not doubt the enormity of the task the Government faces in seeking to tackle the national housing crisis nor the Levelling Up Secretary’s “personal commitment to meeting this challenge, I do question how and why the limited funds available to you are not being used.”
He continued: “In the meantime, individuals and families – in Bradford and Keighley, as elsewhere – are being denied the opportunity to live in a high-quality affordable home for reasons neither they nor I can understand.”
The MHA chief executive added: “I again extend an invitation for you to visit one or more of our housing schemes and hope MHA can play a fuller role in helping you deliver more affordable properties to improve life prospects in Bradford district.”