MINISTERS have awarded surprise cash to get Kirklees council houses in good shape.

A massive £87.2m - almost £4m more than expected - is coming the district's way over two years.

The grant has been won after a separate management organisation looking after council properties was judged to be doing well.

Ministers said they were impressed with Kirklees Neighbourhood Housing, formed in 2002 to look after 27,000 homes.

It is among the first "arms- length" management organisations to land further cash.

Simon Rogers, chief executive officer of Kirklees Neighbourhood Housing, said: "It is funding that was expected, but we're pleased it's £3.9m more than we bid for."

The money will be spent on furthering the drive to make council homes warm, weatherproof and more modern.

Eight English districts won awards for 2004/05 and 2005/06.

Housing minister Keith Hill said their housing management organisations had made excellent starts to their programmes.

Tenants were benefiting from improvements to their homes, a dedicated day-to-day landlord service and more control over the future of their homes, thanks to one-third representation on the board, he said.

Mr Hill added: "The funding will enable them to continue this work, in line with the Government's Decent Homes Target of offering all social tenants a decent home by 2010."