THE BLOG

Eric Pickles' Ten Biggest Failures

04/07/2013 17:18 BST | Updated 03/09/2013 10:12 BST

Eric Pickles is in no position to lecture councils. He may cultivate a reputation as a no-nonsense straight talker, but has he actually delivered on his tough rhetoric? Just like the rest of David Cameron's Government, he makes big promises but over and over again reality lets him down.

Let's look at just ten of Eric Pickles' biggest failures.

1. Cutting costs

Eric Pickles lectures local authorities on cutting costs. But he should look closer to home. Last week his own department was fined £20,000 for having an unauthorised overdraft of £217 million.

2. Housebuilding

Eric Pickles says he will "keep Britain building" but only 24,900 houses were completed in the last quarter - the lowest number of private home completions in 23 years.

3. NewBuy

Eric Pickles' department is responsible for the flagship NewBuy scheme which was supposed to help 100,000 people onto the housing ladder. The results so far? Just 2,291 people have used the scheme.

4. Transparency

Eric Pickles said that transparency should be the default setting for public bodies but he doesn't practice what he preaches. His department has been caught out by the Information Commissioner twice for trying to hide statistics and correspondence.

5. Weekly bin collections

Eric Pickles promised to get councils to move back from fortnightly to weekly bin collections, but his policy hasn't been a success. Only one council applied for money to move back a weekly bin collection.

6. Homelessness

Eric Pickles ministers spout warm words on homelessness. But their record is terrible. Over the last 12 months the number of people registered as homeless has sharply increased.

7. Bedroom Tax

Eric Pickles has failed to stand up for local authorities who are being hit by the Bedroom Tax. David Cameron claimed that the bedroom tax was fair but the DWP impact assessment shows that it hits households with disabled people the hardest.

8. Council Tax Benefit

Eric Pickles and David Cameron handed local authorities the power to administer council tax benefit, then cut the budget by 10%, resulting in the number of households in council tax arrears to increase by 45%.

9. High Streets

Eric Pickles promised to "breathe new life into high streets" but went on to make it easier for payday lenders and betting shops to open new stores without having to apply for planning permission first.

10. Affordable Homes

Eric Pickles promised to deliver 170,000 new affordable homes but over the past 12 months the number of affordable home completions has fallen by 29%.

David Cameron and Eric Pickles' record is one of incompetence and failure. They are letting people down - more interested in pursuing headlines and playing political games than in addressing the big problems facing Britain.

Chris Williamson MP is Labour's Shadow Minister for Communities and Local Government