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. . . as MPs condemn inaction over urban renewal report

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A Labour-dominated committee of MPs last week attacked the government over its slow progress on reviving Britain's cities. The environment, transport and regional affairs committee said it was 'disgraceful' that the Urban Task Force report, drafted by a team headed by Lord Rogers a year ago, had still not been acted upon.

Committee chairman Andrew Bennett said: 'The Treasury appears to have kicked the Task Force Report into the deep jungle.' Deputy prime minister John Prescott admitted the Urban White Paper was being delayed until the autumn - well over a year after it was expected. The MPs called for financial incentives to create an urban renaissance, including reducing VAT on refurbishment of housing from 17.5 per cent to five per cent, and a cut in stamp duty on brownfield developments.

The committee said it was 'appalled by the slow progress made by the Treasury' in considering these matters, as there would be no recommendations until November this year.

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