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Homes and Communities Agency

Volume 470: debated on Thursday 10 January 2008

I undertook during oral evidence for the Committee stage of the Housing and Regeneration Bill on 13 December 2007 to confirm the delivery responsibilities of the Homes and Communities Agency.

The Homes and Communities Agency will for the first time, bring together land and money to deliver decent, affordable housing and regenerate our communities by creating places where people choose to live. It will play a key role advising Ministers on turning our ambition to deliver 3 million new homes by 2020 into a reality.

Establishing the agency will enable a range of existing regeneration and housing delivery programmes to be brought together under the auspices of a single delivery focused agency. This will give local authorities a clear strategic partner to work with on housing and regeneration work in their area, and will enable better and more effective use of a range of assets, resources and funding streams to respond to the particular housing and regeneration problems in different communities.

Taking account of the role of the agency and consultation responses to “Delivering Housing and Regeneration: Communities England and the Future of Social Housing Regulation”, we have concluded that the agency, reporting to Ministers, will therefore take on the following roles:

Regeneration programmes from English Partnerships, including remediation of brownfield land, facilitating the provision of homes for key workers, the National Coalfields programme and developing its strategic sites programme to facilitate the delivery of increasing numbers of new homes;

Provision of new affordable housing, currently provided through social housing grant from the Housing Corporation;

Delivery responsibilities for the decent homes programmes for the social housing sector from the Department for Communities and Local Government (CLG) including Arms Length Management Organisations (ALMOs), Large Scale Voluntary Transfers (LSVT), Housing Private Finance Initiative (PFI) and PFI for new supply. This will enable the agency to work closely with local authorities to join up delivery of decent homes with the wider regeneration of communities. Ministers will continue to make final decisions on stock transfers and the establishment of ALMOs;

Transferring programme management responsibility from CLG on housing market renewal facilitating the joining up with other agency programmes, allowing it to work with local authorities to develop multifaceted regeneration programmes that deliver community as well as housing market renewal;

The agency will take on the housing and regeneration delivery functions of CLG in support of the main existing growth areas, including Milton Keynes-South Midlands, London-Stanstead-Cambridge-Peterborough, and Ashford.

Fulfilling its objective of becoming the “Best Delivery Partner” for local authorities, it will also work with local authorities to develop support for new and emerging growth points and will become Government’s main source of advice on the delivery of housing growth. Responsibility for selecting and assessing growth areas will remain with CLG and with Ministers;

Similarly the agency will take on housing and regeneration delivery functions from CLG in the Thames Gateway, including driving forward the implementation of the Thames Gateway delivery plan published in November. The Gateway is the single largest regeneration project in Europe and will provide 160,000 new homes and 225,000 jobs by 2016—making a key contribution to the delivery of the agency’s objectives. The agency will make use of its unrivalled expertise in housing and regeneration and to work with local councils on delivery across the Gateway. Its role will include the management of CLG’s £500million Thames Gateway programme for 2009-11.

Additionally, the Academy for Sustainable Communities will transfer to the agency, as will delivery responsibilities for the following programmes, currently undertaken by CLG:

Mixed Communities

Capital Investment on Homelessness Hostels and Specialist Supported Housing

National Land-Use Database of Previously Developed Land.

This will help provide an holistic approach to housing and regeneration and enable the department to focus on the provision of strategic policy advice and managing cross-Whitehall relationships.

A full summary of responses to the consultation “Delivering Housing and Regeneration: Communities England and the Future of Social Housing Regulation”, and the Government’s response, can be found on the CLG website. Copies are also being placed in the Libraries of both Houses.