The rebranding of the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) took place this week – albeit both the social housing regulator and the investments division are yet to officially separate.
Homes England has been launched as the government’s “commercially-focused land and investment agency”.
The Regulator of Social Housing (RSH) is now the new name for standalone, English social housing regulator.
The HCA was formed in 2008 as the government’s housing, land and regeneration agency, and the regulator of social housing providers in England.
The re-branding comes days after former junior justice minister Dominic Raab was appointed housing minister, and the Department for Communities and Local Government was renamed Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG).
The creation of Homes England and RSH followed a government review of the HCA which assessed everything from the risk of a ’conflict of interest’ between the divisions, to showing ’best value’, and recommended the separation of the HCA.
The driver for the division has been the focus on creating a dedicated agency for delivery and investment. It had been expected to formally launch in June last year.
Housing secretary Sajid Javid - whose title has also been subject to a re-brand - said this week that it is one of the key steps towards the ambition to deliver 300,000 homes per year by the mid 2020s, bringing together existing planning expertise and new land buying powers, securing land, supporting smaller house builders into the market and resourcing brownfield sites from across the country to deliver homes for families.
Around 310 local authorities have published a brownfield register, which reveal over 26,000 hectares of developable land, according to the government.
Mr Javid said: “This Government is determined to build the homes our country needs and help more people get on the housing ladder. Homes England will be at the heart of leading this effort.”
Nick Walkley, chief executive of Homes England, said: “We will use our land, finance and expertise to expand the delivery of affordable new homes and connect ambitious partners to remove barriers to house building.”
’Lift and shift’
Fiona MacGregor, executive director for regulation at the RSH, described the change to the HCA as a straight ‘lift and shift’ of the regulator when speaking to Social Housing in January 2017.
Ms MacGregor repeated that message in a letter to registered providers this week, saying: “This change is to the regulator’s operating name only and does not alter our regulatory framework, approach or powers and we will continue to promote a viable, efficient and well-governed social housing sector able to deliver homes that meet a range of needs.”
She added: “Please note that, until legislation is enacted for the regulator to be established as a standalone body, Homes England and RSH will both legally remain as functions of the HCA but will operate with distinct corporate identities as above."
The regulation committee, which is responsible for the regulation of social housing, will continue to be a statutory committee of the HCA.
Regulation content will continue to be to be available on the Gov.uk website www.gov.uk/social-housing-regulation-england
NROSH+ will move to: nroshplus.regulatorofsocialhousing.org.uk