Select Committee on Transport, Local Government and the Regions Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 513-519)




  513. Good morning. Can I welcome you to the final session of the Committee's inquiry into empty homes and ask you to identify yourselves for the record?
  (Dr Perry) My name is Norman Perry. I am the Chief Executive of the Housing Corporation. On my left is Mr Neil Hadden, who is the Assistant Chief Executive responsible for investment and regeneration.

  514. Thank you very much. Do you want to say anything by way of introduction or are you happy for us to go straight to questions?
  (Dr Perry) I would be happy for you to go straight to questions.

Miss McIntosh

  515. Can I ask if you can explain the basis of your submission to the Department under the Comprehensive Spending Review and how it differs from the National Housing Federation's proposals for a Market Restructuring Fund?
  (Dr Perry) Our submission to the DTLR on the Spending Review is not yet public. We have not yet formally sent it to the Minister. It will cover the whole range of our activities because as an NDPB we have to make a pitch for resources at every spending review. So far as the idea of a market renewal fund is concerned we are supportive of the concept. We have some ideas, which are not specific in the submission, on how we can contribute to that. We have not majored on that particular issue because we have a number of objectives that we have to pursue in the light of our remit.

  516. In your memorandum you state that over the coming months you will be refining the way that you use capital investment to have an even greater impact on regeneration. You want to say that you think you can actually do more. Would you like to expand on that?
  (Dr Perry) With the Chairman's permission Mr Hadden is in charge of that programme.
  (Mr Hadden) We are looking to develop our role in regeneration to explain to the Department and to others who are interested that we are already very much involved in regeneration activity. Indeed, 70 per cent of our funding programme currently is spent on regeneration activities. We are also trialing a number of different funding mechanisms—new tools, new housing regeneration companies—to test out what works in different situations or circumstances, how effective they are, what vehicles we need. We are developing that thinking and we will be producing a new statement of our role in regeneration following the spending review decisions.

  517. You place quite a lot of emphasis on regeneration. Do you think you should be funding new build developments in the future apart from supplementing the section 106 agreements?
  (Dr Perry) Of course we cover the whole of the country and there are very many areas where there is extremely high demand and new social housing is pretty desperately needed in those areas. In the areas where there is market failure, in the North and the Midlands, then clearly we are looking at the extent to which new investment is needed. All our investment now is put into the context of locally agreed strategies. We do not make individual investment decisions except when those tie in with an agreed strategy. Even where large scale re-modelling of neighbourhoods might be needed clearly new housing will have to be part of that, so we foresee a long term future for new social housing even in areas where there is market difficulty.

Mrs Ellman

  518. Mr Hadden, you mentioned housing regeneration companies. What is the Corporation's current thinking on those? Do you see them as successful? Do you intend to set up in areas of low demand?
  (Mr Hadden) The current position is that we have set up a pilot to look at five housing regeneration companies in particular. They are based in East London, Rochdale, Liverpool, Hartlepool and Coventry. What we are doing is looking at the different areas that they are working in. We are going to evaluate the different tools that they are going to be using to pull together regeneration work in the housing in those areas and carry out a formal evaluation and then a) to see what type of vehicle is appropriate, because this might have an impact on our registration criteria, our regulation of RSLs, and b) to look at what we need to do in terms of the funding mechanisms we currently administer and how they fit into the funding programme overall.

  519. Have you reached any conclusions?
  (Mr Hadden) No. It is very early days. We only launched them at the back end of last year so there is a lot of preparation going on at the moment. It is too early to have a firm view as to how well they are doing.

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