No time to add much news I'm off to Plymouth to launch the Efford Vision which will appear on these pages soon - so for now catch the show at Plymouth Arts Centre!
I enclose press release for the new superagency - (Note how many times the words modernise and rationalise are used.)
Communities and Local Government News Release
Pioneering agency to drive forward housing and regeneration
Communities and Local Government News Release 2007/0005
17 January 2007
The Government has today announced proposals for a new agency to deliver regeneration and housing in a major shake-up of the way it supports the delivery of new homes and develops mixed, sustainable communities in England.
The proposed agency - Communities England - will bring together the functions of English Partnerships, the Housing Corporation, and a range of work carried out by the Department, including delivery in the areas of decent homes, housing market renewal, housing PFI, housing growth and urban regeneration.
Communities Secretary Ruth Kelly said the new agency will further enhance the Government’s ambitious agenda to ensure social mobility and economic inclusion.
“With the expectation of over £4 billion of public spending at its disposal, Communities England will pioneer innovative and more efficient ways of working with our key partners in the public, private and voluntary sector to get better outcomes from public investment in places.
“Central to meeting its challenge the agency will not only ensure greater value for money but also guarantee the very highest standards of quality, design, energy efficiency and sustainability.”
“Above all Communities England will reflect the Government’s on going drive to ensure that the ambitions of local people for their communities and their families are realised. This will enable Communities and Local Government to focus more on strategic policy making.”
English Partnerships chairman Baroness Ford warmly welcomed the creation of Communities England.
“My Board and senior colleagues are delighted by the outcome of the Housing and Regeneration Review. We have consistently supported the creation of a single, new agency and a streamlined supply chain and we look forward to playing our part in creating that new agency.”
“On a personal note I am absolutely delighted to have been invited to lead the team which will undertake the planning for the new organisation. The staff of English Partnerships, The Housing Corporation and Communities and Local Government have an enormous amount of talent and experience and I am looking forward to working with them in creating Communities England”.
Housing Corporation Chair, Peter Dixon also strongly welcomed the announcement about the formation of Communities England.
“The new agency will bring the strengths of the Housing Corporation, English Partnerships and the Department together to form a single agency dedicated to creating places that people choose to live and stay in. We look forward to working with new colleagues, building on past successes to create a body which can deliver even more to communities and the country as a whole."
Today’s announcement follows a nine month Review by the Department, in very close co-operation with the Housing Corporation and English Partnerships.
Notes to editors
1. The Housing and Regeneration Review was launched in April to assess the institutional structures for housing and regeneration delivery carried out by English Partnerships and the Housing Corporation. The review was asked to consider the best way of organising national delivery mechanisms to maximise the use of private investment, public subsidy and land holdings, and assets funded by past public investment, to support the delivery of new homes and mixed, sustainable communities.
2. In July the scope of the review was extended in three areas:
- to examine the Department’s delivery functions (in addition to the Housing Corporation and English Partnerships) to determine the scope for rationalising existing delivery-focused activities across the piece;
- to include a specific work-stream on modernising the regulation of affordable housing, particularly in the light of the increasing involvement of the private sector; and
- to evaluate a range of potential modernisation and structural options for reform.
3. A separate review of the regulation of affordable housing, the Cave Review, was announced on the 14 December. This will look at how the regulatory system should be reformed to better support tenants, reduce burdens on social housing providers and to reflect current and future Government priorities. It will report in the Spring 2007.
4. English Partnerships is the national regeneration agency, helping the Government to support high quality sustainable growth in England.
5. The Housing Corporation is the national Government agency that funds new affordable housing and regulates housing associations in England.
6. The decision to devolve the Department’s delivery functions in the areas of Decent Homes, Housing Growth, housing PFI, Housing Market Renewal and urban regeneration to Communities England is part of building a new strategic Department. A streamlined delivery chain is vital for transforming the Department into a more strategic and policy focused Department.
7. Communities England is expected to have an annual budget of over £4 billion (based on current budgets), with the final size of the budget and the arrangements for delegating the Department’s budgets to be determined as part of CSR07.
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