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House of Commons Hansard
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Written Statements
30 November 2016
Volume 617

Written Statements

Wednesday 30 November 2016

Communities and Local Government

Homes and Communities Agency

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Since 2010 the Government have delivered almost 900,000 new homes, including 293,000 affordable homes. However, we need to build many more homes if we are going to create a housing market that works for everyone, and the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) will play a vital role in this.

On 10 February 2016, my predecessor as Minister for Housing and Planning announced to Parliament the commencement of a tailored review of the HCA. I am pleased today to announce the publication of the tailored review.

The agency is the national housing, land and regeneration agency and the regulator of registered social housing providers in England.

The review concluded that functions exercised by the HCA are required, and, with the exception of social housing regulation, should continue to be performed by the HCA in its current form as a non-departmental public body (NDPB). The review recommends that the agency’s regulatory function should be established as a standalone NDPB, reaffirming the Government’s commitment to a strong, independent regulator for social housing. This is a purely administrative change that will not affect the regulator’s powers or operations. This change will result in no increase on existing Government budgeted spending. The regulator will also be part of plans for increased sharing of back office functions across the DCLG Group. DCLG will today launch a consultation on using a legislative reform order to establish the regulator as an independent body. This comes shortly after a consultation issued by the regulator on introducing fees for social housing regulation. Taken together these changes will ensure the regulator remains independent, and retains the powers and resources needed to maintain the confidence of the sector and lenders.

The review has also made a number of recommendations for improving the efficiency, effectiveness and governance of HCA. This includes changes such as improving stakeholder engagement, reducing bureaucracy and ensuring that the agency has the right set of skills. The Chairs of the HCA and the Regulation Committee have welcomed the recommendations. My Department and the agency are working closely together and have developed a timetable for implementation of the recommendations.

The tailored review has been carried out independently within Government and with the full and active participation of the HCA. I would like to thank the HCA and all stakeholders that have contributed to the review. The review is being deposited in the Libraries of both Houses and is available at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/tailored-review-of-the-homes-and-communities-agency.

[HCWS294]

Scotland

Scotland Act 2016: Commencement Regulations

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In March this year, Her Majesty the Queen gave Royal Assent to the Scotland Act 2016, marking an important milestone in fulfilling the UK Government’s commitment to deliver on the Smith Commission agreement, making the Scottish Parliament one of the most powerful devolved Parliaments in the world.

Since Royal Assent, a number of important provisions in the Act have come into force, including new powers in relation to consumer advocacy and advice, gaming machines, equalities, transport, and welfare.

I can today inform the House that the UK Government have made the commencement regulations for the following sections of the Scotland Act 2016:

13: Power of Scottish Parliament to set rates of income tax

14: Amendments of Income Tax Act 2007

15: Consequential amendments: income tax

The regulations ensure that the transfer of income tax powers will occur, as agreed by the UK and Scottish Governments, from 6 April 2017, bringing into force substantial new financial levers enabling the Scottish Government to set income tax rates and thresholds for the earned income of Scottish taxpayers.

In addition, commencement regulations will be made on 5 December for the following sections of the Scotland Act 2016, to be commenced in April 2017:

20: Borrowing

21: Provision of information to the Office for Budget Responsibility

67: Destination of fines, forfeitures and fixed penalties

These commencement regulations represent another milestone in delivering the recommendations of the Smith Commission agreement, and it is a testament to the constructive work between the UK and Scottish Governments.

The two Governments continue to work closely together to ensure a safe and secure transition of the remaining powers in the Scotland Act 2016.

[HCWS293]