Housing And Regeneration Bill - continued          House of Commons

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Chapter 3 - Financial provision

Powers to give financial assistance

Clause 22 - Financial assistance

44.     This clause provides a power for the HCA to give financial assistance to any person, in pursuit of its objects and subject to the consent of the Secretary of State. The financial assistance may be given in any form, and on such terms and conditions as the HCA considers appropriate, including provision for repayment, with or without interest.

Borrowing powers of the HCA

Clause 23 - Powers to borrow

45.     This clause enables the HCA to borrow on a short-term basis, such as by overdraft, from any person. If the borrowing is not on a short term basis the HCA may borrow only from the Secretary of State or the European Investment Bank. The HCA may only borrow in sterling.

Clause 24 - Loans by the Secretary of State

46.     The Secretary of State may lend money to the HCA.

47.     The Secretary of State will decide when the loan should be repaid, in what manner and at what level of interest.

Clause 25 - Guarantees by the Secretary of State

48.     If the HCA takes out a loan with anyone other than the Secretary of State under clause 23, the Secretary of State may guarantee the repayment of this loan, including any interest payable on it.

49.     The guarantee may be subject to such terms and conditions as the Secretary of State may consider appropriate. In respect of any sums paid out under the guarantee, the Secretary of State may direct the HCA to repay such amounts as she may direct towards repayment of those sums and towards interest, at such rates of interest as she may direct.

50.     The Secretary of State must lay a statement of the guarantee before Parliament immediately after giving the guarantee annually until all liability under the guarantee is discharged.

Clause 26 - Financial limits

51.     The HCA's total borrowings must not exceed £2,300 million unless the Secretary of State provides for an increase to this limit by order, up to a maximum ceiling of £3,000 million. These limits are the same as for the Housing Corporation.


Clause 27 - Power to charge for certain activities

52.     The HCA can charge a reasonable amount for information services, advice, education and training, and support services. The intention is to limit the amount that may be charged so that it does not exceed the costs incurred in providing the services.

Clause 28 - Directions as to surplus funds

53.     The Secretary of State may direct the HCA to pay such sums as specified to the Secretary of State, following consultation with the HCA.

54.     If surplus capital is paid to the Secretary of State, it must be paid into the Consolidated Fund. The Secretary of State may decide to treat the whole or part of any payment as part repayment of the principal of any loans borrowed from the Secretary of State under clause 24.

Clause 29 - Duty to act as agent in respect of regeneration and development

55.     The HCA may be appointed to act as agent for the Secretary of State for the purpose of giving financial assistance to regeneration and development activities, under sections 126 to 128 of the Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act 1996. If so appointed, the HCA will be bound to act in accordance with the terms and conditions of the appointment, as set out by the Secretary of State.

Clause 30 - Duty to act as agent in respect of derelict land etc.

56.     The HCA may be appointed to act as the Secretary of State's agent in connection with specified derelict land functions. This may include providing grant for reclaiming, improving or bringing such land back into use. The Secretary of State may specify the terms and conditions of this appointment and the HCA must act in accordance with those terms and conditions.

Chapter 4 - Other functions of the HCA


Clause 31 - Business

57.     In order for the HCA to operate effectively, it may be necessary for it to carry on a business in the open market. This clause therefore enables the HCA to trade.

Clause 32 - Powers to form companies etc.

58.     This clause allows the HCA, with the consent of the Secretary of State, to establish or acquire an interest in a company.

Clause 33 - Community services

59.     This clause allows the HCA to act in a supportive capacity in order to provide or facilitate the continued well-being of communities, including encouraging, or developing new businesses; providing employment; providing business or employment services; providing safe and attractive environments; preventing or reducing anti-social behaviour or crime, or the fear of anti-social behaviour or crime; and providing certain community services.

Clause 34 - Sustainable development

60.     In carrying out its activities, the HCA may facilitate or contribute towards the achievement of sustainable development.

Social housing

Clause 35 - Duties in relation to social housing

61.     This clause requires the HCA when -

  • acquiring or constructing low cost rental accommodation, or converting a building into such accommodation (subsections (1) and (2)),

  • disposing of housing or land on the condition that low cost rental accommodation is provided (subsections (3) and (4)),

  • providing infrastructure on condition that low cost rental accommodation is provided (subsections (5) and (6)), or

  • giving financial assistance on condition that low cost rental accommodation is provided (subsections (7) and (8)),

to ensure that when it is made available for rent the landlord is a "relevant provider of social housing". A "relevant provider" is a registered provider of social housing (as defined by clause 79(2)(a)), an English local housing authority, or a county council in England. Low cost rental accommodation is accommodation which is made available for rent, the rent is below the market rate and the accommodation is made available in accordance with rules for eligibility designed to ensure that the accommodation is occupied by people who cannot afford to buy or rent at a market rate.

Clause 36 - Recovery etc. of social housing assistance

62.     This clause gives the HCA powers in relation to a person who has received financial assistance for the provision of social housing. The HCA may-

  • reduce, suspend or cancel grant payments (or other financial assistance), or

  • direct the recipient of financial assistance to:

    a)     apply or appropriate for such purposes as the HCA may specify, or

    b)     pay to the HCA,

  • such amount as the HCA may specify.

63.     These powers may only be exercised in accordance with principles determined by the HCA.

64.     These powers enable the HCA to operate a system similar to the Housing Corporation's "Recycled Capital Grant Fund" operated under section 27 of the Housing Act 1996. This enables the Housing Corporation to require, as a condition of grant, that, for example, when a property grant-funded by the Corporation is disposed of, a sum specified by the Corporation (which could be the amount of original grant, or a proportion of the property value) is either repaid to the Corporation, or is applied by the grant recipient to a purpose specified by the Corporation, such as the provision of new social housing.

Clause 37 - Section 36: interest and successors in title

65.     Subsections (1) to (4) provide that the HCA may add interest to sums to be repaid under clause 36. It also has power to suspend or reduce that interest. This clause replicates the provisions in sections 27(4) and (5) of the 1996 Act.

66.     Subsections (5) to (7) provide that a person acquiring social housing from the recipient of social housing assistance will also be subject to the direction to repay under clause 36. This clause replicates section 27(6) of the 1996 Act.

Clause 38 - Determinations under sections 36 and 37

67.     This clause sets out the process for determinations under clauses 36 and 37. A determination could define the "relevant events" which would trigger these requirements (e.g. the disposal of a grant-funded property), or it could specify the purposes to which sums may be applied (e.g. the provision of similar properties, the refurbishment of others, etc.).

68.     Subsection (1) prohibits the HCA from making a general determination without the consent of the Secretary of State. And subsection (2) requires the HCA, before making such a determination, to consult the Regulator of Social Housing, and other appropriate persons.

Clause 39 - Information in relation to social housing

69.     This clause enables the Secretary of State to make an order requiring the HCA to produce information about its provision of accommodation for the purposes of social housing and the consequences of that accommodation being social housing. For example, the intention is that where funding is provided by the HCA for the purposes of providing housing, the HCA would be required to notify the Regulator of Social Housing about which housing will be low cost rental accommodation and thus should be transferred to a registered provider of social housing, if the recipient of the funding is not such a provider.

Clause 40 - Duty to co-operate with Regulator of Social Housing

70.     Under this clause the HCA is required to co-operate and consult with the Regulator of Social Housing on matters of general interest. For example, the HCA should take account of the regulator's views when it proposes to invest in the provision of social housing. The Regulator of Social Housing is under a corresponding duty to co-operate with the HCA by virtue of clause 102.

Information, education and guidance etc.

Clauses 41 and 42 - Information services; Advice, education and training

71.     These clauses allow the HCA to publish, provide, disseminate or facilitate ideas or information. It can also undertake research and provide, or facilitate the provision of, education and training services. This for example might include providing accreditation or sponsorship programmes, running conferences or developing training modules.

72.     Clause 27 enables the HCA to charge a reasonable amount for such services. The intention is that the amount charged will not exceed the cost of providing the service.

Clause 43 - Guidance

73.     In addition to providing information and training, the HCA can also provide guidance (or vary existing guidance) about matters relating to its work. However, before doing so, the HCA must consult appropriate persons and then bring the published guidance to the notice of those affected by it.

74.     The HCA can revoke its guidance, but, prior to revocation, it must consult those affected by the guidance and, upon revocation, inform those affected by it.

Functions in relation to companies and other persons

Clause 44 - Control of subsidiaries

75.     A subsidiary of the HCA will not have the power to do anything the HCA itself cannot do. Nor will the subsidiary be allowed to do anything the HCA has itself been prevented from doing by the Secretary of State under clause 49 (which gives the Secretary of State power to direct the HCA on how it should exercise its functions).

76.     The exception to this is that a subsidiary of the HCA may determine staff appointments and terms and conditions etc without seeking the Secretary of State's approval, which would otherwise be the case under paragraph 4 of Schedule 1.

77.     The HCA must take steps to ensure that its subsidiaries do not borrow money from anyone other than the HCA, nor issue shares or stocks to anyone other than the HCA, without the consent of the Secretary of State.

Clause 45 and 46 - Agency arrangements with UDCs; Acting with, or for, other persons: general

78.     With the consent of the Secretary of State, the HCA can appoint an urban development corporation ("UDC") to carry out functions on its behalf other than its functions in connection with Chapter 3 of Part 1 (financial provision). The UDC must act within the terms specified in the appointment. The UDC may arrange for any of its property or staff to be made available to the HCA, if requested, and if the purpose of the request is to assist the HCA to exercise its functions.

79.     The HCA can form partnerships or enter into working arrangements in conjunction with others, or enter into arrangements to act on behalf others.


Clause 47 - Support services

80.     The HCA may provide or facilitate the provision of services in support of a project. In particular, this could include seconding staff, providing consultants, or providing technical and financial resources.

Chapter 5 - Supplementary

Certain supervisory powers of the Secretary of State

Clause 48 - Guidance by the Secretary of State

81.     This clause gives the Secretary of State power, following consultation with appropriate persons, to give guidance to the HCA about how to carry out its functions. The guidance must be published as soon as is reasonably practical after it has been given. If the guidance is to be revoked, the same consultation and notification process must be followed.

82.     The HCA is required to have regard to any guidance issued to it by the Secretary of State which is in force.

Clause 49 - Directions by the Secretary of State

83.     This clause gives the Secretary of State power to give general or specific directions to the HCA as to how it should carry out its functions. It requires that those directions must be published as soon as practicable. If the Secretary of State revokes those directions, that fact must also be published. Publication of the making or revocation of directions does not apply to directions given in connection with the HCA's own, or its committees', procedure.

84.     The HCA is required to comply with the Secretary of State's directions.

Clause 50 - Consents by the Secretary of State

85.     Where certain provisions of Part 1 require the Secretary of State to give consent, the Secretary of State may give this consent with or without conditions, or, depending upon the circumstances, in either general or specific terms.

86.     A consent may be varied or revoked, except where something has already been done on the authority of that consent. A variation or revocation only takes effect once the Secretary of State has given notice of it to the HCA or anyone else to whom the consent was given.

Abolition of existing bodies

Clauses 51 and 52 - Abolition of the Urban Regeneration Agency; Abolition of the Commission for the New Towns

87.     These clauses enable the Secretary of State to make an order dissolving the Urban Regeneration Agency and the Commission for the New Towns on a specified date.

88.     Clause 52 also introduces Schedule 5.

Clause 53 - Property etc. transfers to the HCA and the Welsh Ministers

89.     This clause makes provision for the transfer of property, rights or liabilities in connection with the dissolution of the Urban Regeneration Agency and the Commission for the New Towns, and also for the transfer of property, rights or liabilities of the Department for Communities and Local Government to the HCA.

90.     Clause 53 also introduces Schedule 6.

Clause 54 - Role of the HCA in relation to former CNT functions

91.     This clause sets out the role of the HCA in relation to functions which were formerly undertaken by the Commission for the New Towns. In relation to any property, rights or liabilities which are transferred to it from the Commission for the New Towns (on its abolition) and any property, rights or liabilities of a new town development corporation or an urban development corporation which are transferred to it on the dissolution of those corporations, the HCA will have to exercise its powers for the purposes of its objects. However, the HCA is not compelled to do so if it does not consider it appropriate to exercise its powers in that way, having regard to the purposes for which those property, rights or liabilities were held by the original bodies. The HCA must then exercise its powers as it considers appropriate, having regard to its objects and to the purposes for which the property, rights or liabilities were held by the body concerned.

Clause 55 - Interim arrangements

92.     This clause gives the Secretary of State the power to require the Urban Regeneration Agency or the Commission for the New Towns to provide staff, premises or other facilities, on a temporary basis to the HCA or Welsh Ministers.

93.     This power can be used during any period of transition between the establishment of the HCA and the dissolution of the Urban Regeneration Agency and the Commission for the New Towns.


Clause 56 - Validity of transactions

94.     This clause is intended to cover the situation where persons enter into agreements with the HCA and it subsequently transpires that the HCA acted unlawfully in carrying out its powers, or in contravention of directions given by the Secretary of State. The agreements are not invalidated by reason of such circumstances.

Clause 57 - Notices

95.     There are various references to serving notices throughout Part 1. A notice is served if it is delivered to the person concerned, left at the person's proper address or sent by post to that person at that address. If the notice is to be served on a business, it can be served on an officer of the body or if the business is a partnership on a partner of the business.

Clauses 58 - 60 - Consequential amendments: Part 1; Interpretation: Part 1; Index of defined expressions: Part 1

96.     Clause 58 introduces Schedule 7.

97.     Clauses 59 and 60 set out the definitions of key terms used throughout Part 1.


Chapter 1 - Introduction


Clause 61 - Purpose

98.     Clause 61 specifies the purpose of Part 2 which is to regulate the provision of social housing by English bodies. "Social housing" is defined in clauses 67 to 76. "English body" is defined in clause 78.

Clause 62 - Structural overview

99.     Subsection (1) provides that the system set out in Part 2 replaces the previous system for regulation of registered social landlords (RSLs) in England and Wales under Part 1 of the Housing Act 1996. RSLs are non-profit making providers of social housing, registered by the Housing Corporation.

100.     Subsection (2) specifies that Part 1 of the Housing Act 1996 will continue to operate in respect of Welsh RSLs as set out in clause 63.

101.     Subsection (3) specifies that certain provisions of the Housing Act 1996 are applied in England (these are specified in clause 167) or are preserved for although they apply only in England (see clause 120).

102.     Subsection (4) sets out the contents and their organisation in this Part of the Bill which are:

  • Chapter 1:     Introduction, including definitions of social housing, the regulator, English and Welsh bodies and registered providers of social housing

  • Chapter 2:     Establishment of the Office for Tenants and Social Landlords as the regulator of social housing, including its constitution, objectives and its general powers

  • Chapter 3:     Establishment of a register of providers of social housing, including provisions as to eligibility of providers, their profit or non profit designation, the procedure for registration and removal from the register, and the payment of registration fees

  • Chapter 4:     Sets out a range of provisions which govern the constitutional arrangements of registered providers, including requirements for accounting, the operation of a moratorium where steps are taken in respect of insolvency of registered providers, and controls on constitutional changes which result in their restructuring or dissolution

  • Chapter 5:     Makes a number of provisions in relation to the disposal of property by registered providers, and the regulator's powers in relation to such disposals

  • Chapter 6:     Sets out the regulator's regulatory powers including the scope of its powers to set standards, the Secretary of State's power to issue directions to the regulator in respect of standards and the regulator's powers for survey, inspection, specifying performance information and carrying out inquiries

  • Chapter 7:     Gives the regulator various powers of enforcement, including the power to issue enforcement notices, direct the payment of fines or compensation and make provision in relation to the management and constitution of registered providers

  • Chapter 8:     Sets out provisions to assist the interpretation of Part 2 and also makes provision for repeals and consequential amendments

Clause 63 - Restriction of "registered social landlord" system to Wales

103.     This clause operates so as to retain Part 1 of the Housing Act 1996 ("the 1996 Act"), but to restrict its application to Wales.

104.     It does this by amending certain provisions of Part 1 of the 1996 Act.

105.     Subsection (1) introduces the amendments in the following subsections and retitles Part 1 of the 1996 Act "Social Rented Sector in Wales"

106.     Subsection (2) inserts into the 1996 Act section A1 which describes the new purpose of Chapter 1 which is that "it provides for the registration of social landlords in Wales".

107.     Subsection (3) substitutes "Welsh Ministers" for references to "the Relevant Authority", and omits subsections (1A) and (1B) of section 1 of the 1996 Act.

108.     Subsection (4) inserts section 1A after section 1 of the 1996 Act. This new section defines "Welsh body" as a charity whose address is in Wales and which is registered with the Charity Commission, or an industrial and provident society whose registered office is in Wales, or a Companies Act company whose registered office is in Wales.

109.     Subsection (5) amends section 2 of the 1996 Act to restrict eligibility for registration to bodies that are:

  • Welsh bodies,

  • Bodies that are principally concerned with Welsh housing (and a new subsection (2A) is inserted to give power to Welsh Ministers to decide when a body is principally concerned with Welsh housing)

110.     The relevant authority for the purposes of registration under this Part of the 1996 Act is the Welsh Ministers.

111.     Subsections (6) to (8) set out a number of consequential amendments.

112.     Subsection (9) refers to clauses 64 and 65 which make consequential amendments.

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Prepared: 16 November 2007