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Written Statement - Allocation of Gypsy and Traveller Sites Grant 2011-12

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Jane Hutt, Minister for Finance and Leader of the House

In December 2011 I agreed to allocate funding for local authorities who were successful in applying for grant funding under the Gypsy and Traveller Sites Grant 2011-12.

In July 2011, I launched the fifth year of the Gypsy and Traveller Sites Grant Programme. Local authorities were invited to submit applications for a share of the £2 million capital grant.

The grant previously covered 75% of the project costs with the local authorities contributing the remaining 25%. In 2011-12 I increased the grant to cover 100% of the project costs.

In total 6 applications were received from 6 local authorities totalling £4,343,570 and three applications were assessed by officials to be suitable for grant funding.

Officials were unable to approve the remaining 3 applications as they did not meet the grant assessment criteria. A number of these had not secured the relevant permissions including planning permission, which is a fundamental requirement of a successful applicant.

Officials will continue to work with local authorities to enable applicants to submit effective and robust applications under this programme.

The funding agreed is for the refurbishment of 3 local authority Gypsy and Traveller sites, one each in the areas of Carmarthenshire, Merthyr Tydfil and Swansea. This element of funding agreed comes to a total of £1,244,210.

I also agreed that an additional £171,600 should be awarded to Powys Council Borough Council for the completion of an existing refurbishment problem which has encountered unforeseen work and expenses beyond the initial planned contingencies.

The new project funding for 2011-12 totals £1.4 million. Combined with outstanding payments worth £400,000 to be made to on going refurbishment projects from 2010-11 there is a total anticipated expenditure for the Gypsy and Traveller Sites Grant of £1.8 million in this financial year.

Fundamental living facilities will be brought up to decent habitable standard as a result of this grant funding and includes work such as the installation of security and street lighting, new amenity blocks and living space, the refurbishment of sanitation and facilities, drainage works and play areas.

This will bring some parity for Gypsy and Traveller site residents with the settled population living in local authority housing. The improvements will improve health and safety on site as well as increasing hygiene and general living standards within a population which experiences a high level of accidents and infant mortality rates and low life expectancy.

Works detailed in the proposals must be completed by the end of March 2012.