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ARCH welcomes minister’s commitment to scrapping unfair finance system 05/10/2010 Labelled as Finance

ARCH is optimistic about prospects for a fairer housing finance system following housing minister Grant Shapps' confirmation that he intends to end the Housing Revenue Account (HRA).

The minister's commitment today to scrapping the HRA comes after years of campaigning by ARCH for a fairer system. ARCH represents 56 councils across England whose tenants and residents have chosen their local authority as their landlord. It was set up to campaign for a fairer housing finance system.

Brian Reilly, Deputy Director of Housing at the London Borough of Wandsworth and member of the ARCH executive board commented: 'The minister's recognition that the current subsidy system needs radical reform is obviously very welcome. ARCH is pleased that after years of lobbying on this matter a broad consensus has emerged at national and local level. Reforming the existing, unpopular and unfair system offers an exciting opportunity to empower communities, allowing them to plan and deliver effective housing services.'

He added: 'We understand that, in a time of financial austerity, there will be a price to pay for this freedom. I am heartened by the minister's commitment to ensuring all councils receive a settlement that is affordable. The detail of the proposal and timescales is eagerly anticipated.'

While Wandsworth and other ARCH member authorities are likely be allocated significant debts in order to buy themselves out of the HRA system, detailed financial modeling work among member authorities by CIHConsult found the vast majority would emerge better off than under the current regime, which sees rents swallowed up into a national pot.

Bob Livermore, Executive Manager Housing and Property Maintenance at West Lancashire District Council and member of the ARCH executive said: 'ARCH has long campaigned for a fairer finance system for the sake of millions of people living in council homes. We have supported government proposals that would give councils more control over local housing and therefore welcome the minister's confirmation that the HRA is to go. We await details and hope a new housing finance system will be taken forward that is fair and enables local control.'forward that is fair and enables local control.'

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