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Homes England needs to be run differently to be successful, review says

Development priorities and a new way of funding are amongst the recommendations for Homes England that have been outlined in a new independent review. 

Since the cost-of-living began squeezing budgets, various government organisations, including Homes England – the government’s housing and regeneration agency that was founded in 2008 – have come under fire. However, findings from a new review, which is part of the Cabinet Office’s public bodies review programme, have claimed that the government organisation should have ‘closer’ relationships with councils to ensure projects that require urgent attention are prioritised.    

a street sign on the side of a building

Tony Poulter, a non-executive director for the Department of Transport, who led the review, told the Local Government Chronicle that the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities (DLUHC) must ‘determine the balance’ between Homes England’s role in regeneration and housing delivery.

Tony said: ‘If you want to do more regeneration and placemaking, in the short term, it might mean slower housing delivery.’

As part of the government’s levelling up agenda, Homes England has a series of priority places for regeneration work, however, to ensure schemes run smoothly, Tony claims that the ‘DLUHC needs to coordinate better with Homes England to make sure that they aren’t tripping up over each other.’

Mr Poulter referenced the incident that occurred in 2023, when Homes England faced backlash after they were forced to return funding to the Treasury.

Against this backdrop, the review, of which the findings were published earlier in the week, also proposed changing Homes England’s funding arrangements so it can ‘commit to large, long-term schemes’.

Likewise, authorities have suggested the government allow Homes England to ‘take more risks at some points in the economic cycle [which could increase] additionality and impact.’

In response to the review, Peter Denton, chair of Homes England, said: ‘Much of this work is already happening. Other recommendations will require changes in partnership with the DLUHC and Treasury, but if progressed could be transformational in how we deliver new homes and create thriving places.

‘While there is much to celebrate, we are steadfast in our resolve to always to improve, ensuring that we are effective and efficient in driving forward the country’s housing and regeneration ambitions.’

In addition, Michael Gove, remarked: ‘[The] independent report shows Homes England is the right vehicle to deliver more affordable homes and support our plans to regenerate towns and cities across the country.’

Image: Rui Chamberlain

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