Headlines: October 1st, 2002

A single inspectorate for social housing is to be created in an attempt to improve standards of service to tenants of both local authorities and housing associations.The new Housing Inspectorate will come into being from April next year and will be located at the Audit Commission. The Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, also confirmed that there would be an enhanced role for the Housing Corporation in helping to deliver his vision for housing in England as the key investment body delivering good quality homes more quickly in the areas where they were needed most.

Mr. Prescott said setting up the new inspectorate recognised the growing number of transfers of council homes to housing associations and the expectation that all tenants should receive common standards of service. The insopectorate would be responsible for driving up standards of service for both council tenants and those living in properties managed by housing associations.

Explaining the decision to locate the new body in the Audit Commission, Mr Prescott said, ” The Commission, which has undertaken best value inspections of council services since April 2000, has gained a deserved reputation for its high quality inspection regime. ”

He said the Housing Corporation played a key role in helping the Government to deliver new homes and create sustainable communities. ” We have announced that next year the Corporation’s approved development programme will be £1.3 billion, including a new £200 million Challenge Fund to provide new innovative affordable housing in London and the south east of England,” he added.

The new single body will bring together staff from the existing Housing Inspectorate who are responsible for the regulation of local council housing services and staff transferred from the Housing Corporation who handled inspections of housing associations