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Wednesday23 August 2017

BD's Come Clean on Kickstart wins Freedom of Information victory

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Housebuilders Kier and Miller Homes named and shamed after information commisioner forces data release

BD’s Come Clean on Kickstart campaign scored a huge victory today after the information commissioner ordered the Homes & Communities Agency to release details of the woeful standard of housing design funded by the public under the Kickstart programme.

Major housebuilders Persimmon, Bellway, Barratt, Gentoo, Gladedale and Galliford Try all produced housing schemes that failed to score more than 4 out of 20 under the Building for Life quality scale yet were still bailed out with taxpayers’ money.

The worst offenders, Taylor Wimpey, Kier and Miller Group produced schemes scoring 2 or below, with two schemes, Lower Milehouse Lane by Kier Ventures, and Urban Space by Miller Homes, scoring just 1.5 out of 20.

BD launched the Come Clean on Kickstart campaign earlier this year after it emerged that millions of pounds worth of public money had funded schemes stalled by the recession that Cabe judged to be of very low quality.

BD’s petition was backed by hundreds of readers including FOI campaigner Heather Brooke and philosopher Alain de Botton as well as MPs from all three main parties, with the campaign sparking debate in the House of Commons, the Lords and the national press.

However, the HCA and Cabe had both refused repeated requests under the Freedom of Information Act to reveal the details of which schemes scored what.

BD’s last-ditch appeal to the information commissioner today succeeded in forcing the HCA to release this information to the public.

Housing minister Grant Shapps, who backed BD’s campaign while in opposition, welcomed the publication of the data and claimed it demonstrated the government’s more open approach.

“Openness may be uncomfortable for some,” he said, “but we know that proper public scrutiny will lead to far better decisions – and save money as well.

“So I welcome that this important element of assessment of Kickstart housing projects is now finally publicly available. This is the right thing to do and something I strongly agree with. Government needs to lead by example so this is a necessary step in opening up all public records.”

Kickstart was launched by the Labour government in 2008 to stimulate stalled housing schemes. The coalition government has confirmed there will not be further rounds of funding for it.

The release of information today coincided with the publication of the HCA’s review of the £295 million second phase of Kickstart in which it found the average Building for Life score was 12, compared to 9 in the first phase.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • I'd like to pont out that at least one of those schemes on the name and shame list scoring 1.5/20 actually only scored that because of inadequate information being provided for the assessment. When all of that information was available it scored over 14/20 as it is really quite a nice little scheme.....I thought this might be worth mentioning, even if it doesn't support the hatchet job.

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