HCA speeds up delivery of affordable homes
The Homes and Communities Agency is accelerating its affordable homes programme after a report warned the scheme is vulnerable to delays.
HCA chief executive Pat Ritchie yesterday told a meeting of the Public Accounts Committee that 6,500 homes will be brought forward from 2014/15 into earlier years of the scheme.
Last week a National Audit Office report said the volume of homes scheduled for delivery in 2014/15 – the final year of the scheme – could cause problems if there are any delays. The report showed 45,000 of the 80,000 homes planned under the £1.8 billion scheme are scheduled for 2014/15.
Ms Ritchie said the agency has now moved 6,500 homes out of the final year ‘and we will look at whether – subject to the availability of funding – we can do anything more around that’.
‘With a start up programme it is not surprising that the highest proportion of delivery comes in the final years.’
Sir Bob Kerslake, permanent secretary, CLG
The HCA normally only pays out grant once a home is completed, but last year it offered providers 75 per cent of funding when they start on site in return for early delivery. Ms Ritchie suggested this offer could be repeated.
‘We paid 75 per cent start on sites in the new programme in the first year to get the programme moving, we can look at whether or not we need to do that to incentivise the programme, but that is subject to availability of funding as well,’ she said.
The 6,500 homes come from the HCA’s portion of the affordable homes programme. The Greater London Authority is responsible for the scheme in the capital, following the transfer of power from the HCA to the mayor earlier in the year.
Ms Ritchie also made clear the HCA is prepared to shift indicative and provisional allocations of funding if providers cannot deliver the homes they have promised.
‘If a provider isn’t able to deliver on a specific site that was identified when the bid was first made there is the ability to shift around within the programme to firmed up sites if there is a particular issue,’ she said. ‘We also have provision to move around between providers.’
The NAO report noted 51 per cent of schemes are ‘indicative’ because they have not progressed far enough, or do not have planning permission. Ms Ritchie said the HCA has been conducting reviews with all providers who have indicative schemes since the start of the year.
Sir Bob Kerslake, the permanent secretary at the Communities and Local Government department was also giving evidence to the committee. He said: ‘With a start up programme it is not surprising that the highest proportion of delivery comes in the final years.’