Kelly ‘wasted opportunity’ to reform communities

Ruth Kelly failed to meet her own objectives during her first year as head of the Communities department, the Liberal Democrats have claimed.

The Lib Dems have compiled a dossier of Ms Kelly’s achievements as communities secretary and conclude she has fallen “woefully short”.

The “bungled” non-introduction of home information packs (Hips), a failure to reform council tax and a continued crisis in affordable housing has left an impression of “Calamity Kelly”, the Lib Dem communities spokesman Andrew Stunell said.

But a spokeswoman for Ms Kelly insists Mr Stunell’s report is a “fundamentally flaky and flawed little document.”

Ms Kelly wrote to the prime minister after taking control of the Communities and Local Government Department, setting out her objectives.

Despite a manifesto commitment to Hips, Ms Kelly was recently forced into an embarrassing U-turn, delaying their introduction in the face of a judicial review and a lack of surveyors.

The government has also so far failed to respond to the Lyon’s review. Sir Michael Lyons recommended reforming the council tax system. Ms Kelly “missed her chance” to scrap an “unfair” tax system, the Liberal Democrats claimed.

The report also points to falling levels of home ownership and a failure to provide sufficient volumes of affordable housing.

Mr Stunell MP said: “There is a great deal of work that needs to be done to create affordable and environmentally friendly homes and scrapping the council tax to ensure fair taxes are raised and spent locally.

“Unfortunately after a year in charge, the secretary of state has proven herself to be ‘Calamity Kelly’.

“The bungled introduction of Home Information Packs is only the most recent example of a year riddled by incompetence and missed opportunities.”

Mr Stunell pointed to long waiting lists for social housing, combined with the strained finances of first-time buyers.

“It seems that ‘Calamity Kell” is only keeping her job because of Tony Blair’s ridiculously long farewell tour,” Mr Stunell concluded.

However, Ms Kelly’s spokeswoman insisted she had been “delivering major reform across every single policy portfolio of the department.”

Ms Kelly could be an early casualty when Mr Brown reshuffles his Cabinet as he takes over as prime minister. Meanwhile, her housing minister Yvette Cooper is widely tipped for promotion.