HCA cut in half as war on quangos continues

Grant Prior 14 years ago
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Running costs at the Homes and Communities Agency will be reduced by 50% over the next two years as the body becomes the latest victim of a financial clampdown on quangos.

Housing Minister Grant Shapps confirmed a reduction in its running costs by half saving the taxpayer over £100m by 2014-15.

Key elements of the plans include:

a 50% reduction in HCA running costs from over £80m per year to around £40m per year

reducing the number of HCA Directors from 12 to six, with the potential to reduce this further over time

a reduction from 17 to four core HCA offices

Shapps said £6.5bn will still be invested in housing including over £2bn to make existing social homes decent; £4.5bn to fund new affordable homes, including the new Affordable Rent tenure; and a further £1.4bn invested in communities through the Regional Growth Fund.

He 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.”

The HCA acted swiftly to the budget cuts today with a new slimmed-down structure due to come into effect on December 1.

The 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

David Lunts will continue as executive director, London, until the transfer of the region to the Mayor of London takes place.

David Edwards, currently director for the South East, will leave the organisation in December and Margaret Allen, director for the East Midlands, will report to the chief executive leading a team implementing the organisation’s overall change plan including the transfer of the HCA’s London region and the regulatory functions of the TSA.

The HCA has already cut its corporate directors to two with the recently announced departure of Trevor Beattie.  Richard Hill, currently director of investment and renewal, will now become director of programmes and deputy chief executive; while Richard Ennis will remain as director of finance and corporate services.

Chief executive Pat Ritchie said: “We have quickly moved to reorganise our operating structure to maintain existing strong relationships with local authorities and to align with the emerging LEPs.

“Through this reorganisation we will improve efficiency and remain well placed to support the work of local communities.  Unfortunately, any restructure can result in a loss of good people and I would like to pay tribute to David Edwards who has been an excellent director and a valued colleague. I wish him well for the future.”

The HCA also plans to discuss its proposed new area boundaries with local authorities  to get feedback on the changes.

Further widescale changes to the Agency’s structure below director level will start to be implemented in early December with a formal staff consultation to follow in the new year.

In addition, as part of its efficiency commitment, the Agency will be assessing its office accommodation, maintaining four core offices supported by a series of shared spaces for locally-based staff, probably within other government and public sector buildings.

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