But focus of stocktaking will be policies rather than bodies that deliver them, say departmental civil servants

The ODPM is to undergo a stocktake of its programmes and divisions under the supervision of David Miliband, minister for communities and local government.

However, Building understands that the earliest that Miliband will be able to make any changes to spending programmes, such as the £38bn Communities Plan, will be in next summer’s comprehensive spending review.

For the time being it is understood that civil servants will, according to one source, “continue to run the day-to-day stuff – when you do a stocktake you don’t close the rest down”.

It had been rumoured that the stocktake, ordered last week by Miliband’s boss, John Prescott, will resurrect previous reviews of the overlapping roles of the Housing Corporation and regeneration quango English Partnerships.

However, it is understood to be more likely that the stocktake will assess policies and programmes that spend the ODPM’s £50bn annual budget as opposed to the bodies that deliver them.

An ODPM spokesperson said: “This does not signal any change of direction. Our position remains the same – to deliver the priorities of the two five-year plans.”

But a former ODPM staffer said that he felt there would be certain areas where Miliband would want to focus attention. “It would make a lot of sense for him to look at what is happening around regeneration spending as nobody in ODPM seems to have much of a handle on this just now.”

This follows the recent admission by the ODPM that it did not know how much of its annual budget was spent on housing renewal.

Following concerns expressed over Conservative gains in the South-east in county council and parliamentary elections, Miliband made a point during his first week in the job of meeting the Conservative chair of the Local Government Association and leader of Kent county council Sir Sandy Bruce-Lockhart.

It is thought that the two men discussed how Conservatives might approach the planned construction of 1.1 million homes in the South-east over the next 10 years after fears had been expressed they would use their strengthened mandate to block proposals.

Both men were unavailable for comment.

n Simon Hughes, the MP for Southwark North and Bermondsey, has taken over as the Liberal Democrat shadow for the ODPM from Ed Davey, the MP for Kingston and Surbiton, who is now the shadow secretary for education and skills.