New housing agency hits ground running

The government’s flagship housing and regeneration agency, launched months ahead of schedule, has set out its plans to tackle the effect of the credit crunch on the housing market.

The Homes and Communities Agency’s (HCA), originally due to launch in April next year, replaces several regeneration and housing quangos including English Partnerships and the Housing Corporation. Its extensive remit includes overseeing the government’s £2bn PFI housing programme and delivering the Decent Homes initiative.

HCA’s plans include working with authorities to convert existing stock into social or affordable housing, encouraging authorities to put forward individual development packages funded by grants, build more rent to buy properties, focus on land purchase and equity investment, and using new sources of investor finance.

Speaking at the new agency’s launch yesterday, HCA chief executive Sir Bob Kerslake said: "Now more than ever we need an integrated approach to housing and regeneration in this country. Our response to the impact of the credit crunch will be investment led and counter-cyclical in order to maintain a level of activity in house building and prepare the industry for the upturn."

The new agency will play a crucial role in delivering the government’s ambitious homes and regeneration programme, which includes three million homes built by 2020 and at least 70,000 affordable houses by 2010/11. HCA has a budget of more than £17bn spread over the next three years