Housing and BSF review decision due next week

Aaron Morby 14 years ago

Building contractors and councils are likely to hear next week about the fate of Building Schools for the Future and affordable housing funding.

Ministers are reviewing the £55bn BSF programme and the future of house building funding through the Housing and Communities Agency.

Both have been criticised as bureaucratic and poor value for money.

Leader of the Commons Sir George Young said a statement on the outcome of the BSF review was “likely” next week although the Department for Education was later reported to have said a decision was likely, “but not certain”.

Sir George Young had been answering a question from Wolverhampton MP Emma Reynolds, who said ministers had to let schools know what was going on.

More than a third of all secondary schools in England are now involved in the BSF programme and scores of new projects are at preferred bidder  stage.

The fate of the Housing and Communities Agency’s kickstart and local authority housing programmes will also be known within the next few weeks.

The Homes and Communities Agency chief executive Sir Bob Kerslake told the Chartered Institute of Housing conference in Harrogate that, in addition to the previously announced £230m to be slashed from the quango’s coffers, a further £610m was still “in question”.

The withdrawal of this sum would threaten the future of all uncommitted funds for its kickstart scheme, which aims to breathe life into stalled sites, as well as other funding for housing associations and councils.

Whether or not the HCA would be able to get started on new affordable housing schemes would depend on the imminent announcement, Kerslake said.

He added that the HCA would become a smaller, more strategic agency, irrespective of the Government decision.

Sir Bob added that the agency would have to change the way it did business because some of its responsibilities will be carried out by local authorities in future.

”We don’t know whether we will have money to allocate in future, but we have argued for funding to go through the agency. We’ll have less funding, but I don’t think we’ll have no funding,” he said.

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