PM's housing boost costs region

MORE than £20million is to be plundered from the East of England's development budget to pay for the Prime Minister's pledge to boost the housing market.

MORE than £20million is to be plundered from the East of England's development budget to pay for the Prime Minister's pledge to boost the housing market.

Gordon Brown's big announcement earlier this week, designed as part of the re-launch package aimed at re-invigorating his under-fire leadership, has come at the expense of policies to help businesses combat the credit crunch.

The mystery of how the Government could afford the £1billion Homeowners Package - including a one-year holiday on stamp duty for all homes costing up to £175,000 - was solved yesterday when regional development agencies (RDAs) throughout England sent a protest letter to the Government pointing out the impact of reducing their budgets.

Just days after two Government ministers joined forces with the East of England Development Agency (EEDA) to announce a £10m business support package for the region - targeted at start-up businesses and companies in the biotech and life-sciences, manufacturing, and low carbon sector - the axe has fallen on the region's budget, which also helps support the tourism industry.

RDA budgets nationally for capital expenditure will be cut by £25m in the next financial year and by £275m in 2010/11. The East of England's budget reduction is expected to be £1.5m next year and £20m the following year.