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HCA to be cut by more than half

The structure and cost of the Homes and Communities Agency is to be cut by around 50 per cent, the housing minister Grant Shapps announced today.

As part of the government’s plan to reform the HCA into a small enabling body, the quango will see the cost of its upkeep fall from £80 million pa to around £40m.

Its directors will correspondingly fall from 12 to six and the number of core offices will be slashed from 17 to four.

Taking effect from 1 December, the Agency’s existing structure of eight regions (excluding London) will be reorganised into five new operating areas of North East and Yorkshire; North West; Midlands; East and South East; and South West.  The HCA’s London region is already in the process of being transferred to the Greater London Authority as part of government plans to move investment decisions to the Mayor.

The five new area executive directors will be:

Executive director, North East and Yorkshire – David Curtis

Executive director, North West – Deborah McLaughlin

Executive director, Midlands – Paul Spooner

Executive director, East and South East – Terry Fuller

Executive director, South West – Colin Molton

The body’s funding will remain unchanged from that announced in the spending review, with £6.5bn for social housing, including over £2bn for the Decent Homes programme.

The remaining £4.5bn will be used to fund new affordable homes, including the new Affordable Rent tenure; and a further £1.4 billion invested in communities through the Regional Growth Fund, over the Spending Review period.

Detailed plans for how the money is spent will be drawn up following a consultation period in the New Year.

The agency is also set to take on the responsibilities of the Tenant Services Authority, which is being abolished. 

Mr Shapps said: “We are committed to building more affordable homes and regenerating local communities. The HCA will play a vital role in delivering this radical agenda, but with a new working ethos of communities in charge, drawing on the expertise that the HCA has to help them achieve their priorities. The plans we are announcing today will enable local communities to do just that – while also saving the taxpayer over £100m.

“Like all areas of the public sector, the changes I am announcing today mark the start of a process, not the end. HCA will need to remain flexible to deal with new challenges that will continue to emerge in the coming months and years.”

HCA chief executive Pat Ritchie said: “Government has given the HCA an important role in meeting the housing and regeneration priorities of local authorities and communities, and in regulating the housing sector to command lender confidence and protect the taxpayer.  We have therefore created a top structure with a strong local focus that will provide effective leadership and engagement with local partners while saving money. Further changes will flow from this top structure, maximising the potential of our expertise and investment to help local authorities achieve ambitions for their own areas.”  

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