Hilary Benn MP, Labour's Shadow Communities and Local Government Secretary, speaking at the LGIU Conference today claimed Pickles’ policies are “contradictory, not thought through, incoherent, and unfair.”
During the speech, Hilary Benn MP, said:
"I cannot fathom why the Government has scrapped the brownfield first policy – and very successful it was too – and I cannot understand why it has created so much uncertainty about the transition to the new Framework and where this will leave councils and communities in relations to developers.
"The truth is that ministers have a long way to go to reassure people who fear that green England is under threat, and a long way to go to persuade us that we won’t see more appeals and more arguments about what the words of the new National Planning Policy Framework mean.
"Some policies are contradictory. The localisation of council tax benefit, with a 10% cut and protection for certain groups, is likely to end up hitting people who work but are on low incomes; the very opposite of what the DWP says it is trying to do to make work pay.
"Others haven’t been thought through. The localisation of business rates is fine in principle as long as there is real incentive, that councils don’t lose out financially and there is a fair mechanism for redistribution that recognises disadvantage. But so far even those who favour the idea don’t think much of the proposals.
"Some are plain incoherent. When money is tight, and CLG has faced huge cuts, to suddenly find £250m to try to bribe councils into changing decisions they themselves have made – in the spirit of localism - about how to collect people’s rubbish is bizarre and smacks of Whitehall knows best.
"We have a housing crisis; a crisis of supply and a crisis of affordability. The housing budget has been slashed, the number of new homes built in England last year was the lowest for decades, and plans for 200,000 new homes have been abandoned since the election, in pa rt because of the chaos over planning.
"And some are plain unfair. As any of you who have seen the map that Newcastle City Council has produced will know, this show that the most deprived communities are being hardest hit. The most deprived 10% of single tier authorities will see their total spending power reduce by nearly four times as much as the least deprived 10%. So much for not balancing the books on the backs of the poorest."