Examination of Witnesses (Questions 440-459)
LORD FALCONER OF THOROTON, MR PAUL HOUSTON AND MR STEPHEN STRINGER
TUESDAY 30 APRIL 2002
440. Surely that would be difficult if they have not been set a number of objectives whether they achieve those objectives or not.
(Lord Falconer) They have been set targets like brownfield land, like fighting deprivation, like progress in relation to urban renaissance. Those targets are set down in particular documents that are agreed. So one can see to some extent whether or not they are making progress in those areas.
441. Could I lead on to specific elements of RDA spending. RDAs have been given extra grants because of the additional upfront direct cost
(Lord Falconer) The increase in funding because of PIP going out of the window.
442. Yes. Can we be sure that that money will actually be spent on regeneration projects and not on something else?
(Lord Falconer) That was the intention of increasing the funding as you rightly identify. It is given to them in the context of a single pot and they have to decide how it is spent. They accept the importance of regeneration as one of their objectives. That money is not ring-fenced.
443. But it was given for that purpose.
(Lord Falconer) The increase was given because of the problem.
444. Will there be monitoring to ensure that the money does go on regeneration schemes?
(Lord Falconer) The monitoring will come not by them being required to say how they have spent each pound but seeing the extent to which they meet the targets like the deprivation targets, the brownfield remediation targets et cetera.
445. So there will be monitoring on outputs rather than inputs?
(Lord Falconer) Exactly.
446. There was a concern, looking at the proposed forecast spending from both the West Midlands and Yorkshire, that there was going to be a little increase in 2001-02 and then it was going to fall away again. Is that not of concern to you?
(Lord Falconer) We need to look to see what the outcomes will be of the expenditure that the RDAs make in relation to it.
447. The Government will want to be assured by the RDAs that they are getting outcomes on regeneration but reflect the extra resources they had.
(Lord Falconer) We would want that and, as I have said, the RDAs two weeks ago reiterated their commitment in the statement made jointly with the Government to the regeneration outcomes that they are required to reach.
448. The Government have put money in for these upfront extra costs?
(Lord Falconer) Yes.
449. Some of that money will have to be recycled as the schemes develop.
(Lord Falconer) Yes.
450. Will the RDAs be able to keep the money that is generated from the scheme or will it go back to the Government to be offset against he initial increase in grants?
(Lord Falconer) The RDAs will be able to keep the money that comes from any clawback and any gap funding scheme.
451. Can you tell us something about loan and rent guarantees.
(Mr Houston) Can you expand on the question.
452. The new gap funding does not actually include any provision for loan and rent guarantees.
(Mr Houston) I believe that is correct.
453. I just wondered if there was any chance of these rules being amended to make it possible for loan and rent guarantees to be included.
(Mr Houston) It is certainly worth considering. I am not aware of representations having been made to us to look at that but we will certainly do that and talk to the Commission about it.
454. Is it worth watching this space?
(Mr Houston) Certainly, yes.
455. The Committee have been told that there is a provision in the new speculative gap funding scheme for joint venture to be developed in the assisted areas. Can you give the Committee any examples of where the joint venture powers are being used and what sort of projects would such a scheme be used for.
(Lord Falconer) I cannot give any examples in relation to that. I do not know whether Mr Houston or Mr Stringer can.
456. Have you received such information from the RDAs?
(Lord Falconer) We do receive some information from the RDAs but the information I am getting at the moment in relation to both the speculative and the non-speculative gap funding schemes is that there has been very low take-up indeed.
457. You are obviously not very happy with that.
(Lord Falconer) I am not.
458. Can I ask what measures you are taking with the RDAs to ensure that they are moving in a certain direction which would give you pleasure.
(Lord Falconer) You are absolutely right, I am not happy with that at all because obviously it indicates that those two schemes, looking at them alone, have not filled the gap left by the PIP decision.
459. What measures do you have at your disposal to ensure that they are moving in a particular direction?
(Lord Falconer) The measures that will achieve that are obviously as widespread