Examination of Witnesses (Questions 513-519)|
WEDNESDAY 12 DECEMBER 2001
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
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
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 mechanismsnew tools, new housing regeneration
companiesto 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
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.
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.