Headlines: April 20th, 2006

The Government has announced a review of the institutional structure for delivery of its housing and regeneration programmes. It will look into the best way of organising national delivery mechanisms to make the best use of private investment, public subsidy and land holdings, and assets from past public investment. The aim is to support the delivery of new homes, the improvement of existing ones, and the creation of mixed, sustainable communities. The review holds out the prospect of a new agency being created to handle these tasks.The review was jointly called for by the Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, and the Local Government and Communities Minister David Miliband. It will be able to draw on advice from a panel of experts including representatives from local government, the Chairs and Chief Executives of English Partnerships and the Housing Corporation, lenders, and other external people with relevant knowledge. The Review team is expected to report to ministers in July, with any decisions being announced during the summer.

David Miliband said the study would look at how the government could take the next step in improving the delivery of sustainable communities. “We have made real progress over the last few years. But delivering sustainable communities across England will require even greater focus and skill in the future,” he said.

There was already a strong foundation in the programmes run successfully by English Partnerships and the Housing Corporation, but the review was about more than the role of those two bodies. “It is about looking at how we can make more of the resources at our disposal and how we can bring innovative solutions to the challenges we face,” added Mr. Miliband.

The questions to be considered under the review refer to the possible role of a new agency. They will include what scope there is there for new approaches to investment to increase supply of affordable homes; how any new agency could develop an approach to new forms of private sector investment and widen the market for housing provision; how any new agency might work with local and regional partners, and central government, to promote sustainable communities and what the implications might be for any new agency of a more strategic local authority housing role as well as in relation to the unique arrangements that exist in London, and the emerging role of city regions.