Chief executive Sir Bob Kerslake in talks to bring timetable forward by five months
The government’s planned housing and regeneration superagency could be ready to start spending its £5bn budget as early as November, it has emerged.
Sir Bob Kerslake, the chief executive of the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), has been unhappy that his organisation is not supposed to begin work until April 2009 at the earliest.
The regeneration industry expected that this would bring its launch forward by a month or so. However, Kerslake intends to take the reins from the Housing Corporation and English Partnerships five months earlier.
A Whitehall source said Kerslake had held a number of discussions with the communities department to this end and that he was confident of introducing the new timetable.
The source said: “The only stumbling block seems to be the regulatory role of the Housing Corporation and getting this sorted legally for a November deadline. Bob is pretty confident that this can be worked through.”
A spokesperson for the communities department said: “The official timetable is still for the HCA to come into being in April. We’d like to have it up and running as soon as we can, but the main restriction is whether we can get the legislation through in time.”
Kerslake has also struck a deal with London mayor Ken Livingstone over the arrangement for the agency in London. Caroline Flint, the housing minister, announced she was setting up a London HCA board chaired by the mayor late last week.
The news came as the government advertised for a chair for the HCA. The successful candidate will be paid about £90,000 a year and will work at least two days a week.
The HCA will have a budget of £5bn and its 1,000 staff will be charged with delivering 3 million homes by 2020, and an extra 45,000 units of social housing by April 2011.
For more on the genesis of the HCA see www.building.co.uk/archive