RSLs given surprise funding boost

30 Oct 03
Social landlords are being given the opportunity to bid for a record £3.3bn to build new housing.

31 October 2003

Social landlords are being given the opportunity to bid for a record £3.3bn to build new housing.

The sum will be distributed by the Housing Corporation before next April following regional housing boards' decision to switch more money than expected from councils to registered social landlords.

Housing boards, which now control a 'single pot' of capital money for local authorities and RSLs, will receive a total of £5bn over the next two years. Of this, £1.63bn is available to RSLs for 2004/05 and £1.67bn for 2005/06.

Neil Hadden, the corporation's assistant chief executive, said he was slightly surprised that so much was being allocated to RSLs, but he still expected the funding to be three or four times over-subscribed.

Regional boards were required to give local authorities at least 70% of their current housing investment programme (HIP) allocation in 2004/05. But they had the power to switch the remainder to RSLs, which, unlike councils, can build new houses.

'I was quite pleased to see some of the decisions made by boards to shift money across,' said Hadden as he launched the corporation's investment programme on October 27.

He added: 'Some regional housing boards have been more adventurous than expected.'

RSLs have until December 5 to submit bids. Successful applications for both years will be announced in February or March.

The corporation, which has never allocated so much money in a single round, has already said it will favour large associations with proven records to ensure that new homes are delivered more quickly.

But the National Housing Federation welcomed news that small community-based and specialist RSLs were not being completely frozen out. 'We must build communities with homes and opportunities for everyone,' said NHF chief executive Jim Coulter.

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, meanwhile, appears to be under the impression that shortage of time prevented any major redistribution of funds by regional boards.

Wendy Jarvis, divisional manager for local authority housing at the ODPM, told a CIPFA housing seminar on October 23: 'The picture does not look that different from a point of view of most local authorities and housing associations, although there has been some redistribution.'


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