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LOW DEMAND PATHFINDER SCHEMES TO BENEFIT - SCRUTINY

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Housing minister Jeff Rooker has announced that the Audit...
Housing minister Jeff Rooker has announced that the Audit

Commission is to undertake an independent scrutiny role in relation

to the preparation and subsequent delivery of the strategic market

restructuring schemes that each of the low demand pathfinders is

required to prepare for turning round their areas.

Independent scrutiny will add real value in three key areas:

- during development of pathfinder strategic plans - so as to provide

feedback to the pathfinders in advance of finalisation of schemes

- prior to a formal submission to the ODPM, giving government an

informed and independent assessment of the quality of each scheme

- in the subsequent delivery of pathfinder schemes to ensure they

deliver to scheme targets and outcomes

Mr Rooker said:

'A key plank of our approach on the low demand pathfinders is that

they should be performance driven throughout.

'Independent scrutiny will add real value, offering each pathfinder

valuable feedback as they develop their pathfinder strategies whilst

providing the government with an informed and independent assessment

of the quality of each scheme.'

The Audit Commission has a well respected track record in the field

of inspection. This, and the fact that they are an independent body,

will enable them to report on pathfinder schemes without fear or

favour.

Roy Irwin, chief inspector of housing at the Audit Commission said:

'The low demand pathfinder projects represent a major opportunity to

make a real difference to communities blighted by low demand and

abandonment.

'In committing to the pathfinders, government needs to be assured that

the schemes the pathfinders present are appropriate to local

circumstances based on robust intelligence that will deliver

long-term sustainable outcomes. The Audit Commission is well placed

to give government an informed an independent assessment of each

pathfinders plans and their subsequent delivery.'

Notes

1. In April the government invited nine areas where the problems of

low demand and abandonment are most acute to work with government to

establish pathfinder projects. The nine areas are:

- Newcastle and Gateshead

- Humberside (Hull and East Riding of Yorkshire)

- South Yorkshire (parts of Sheffield, Barnsley, Rotherham and

Doncaster)

- Birmingham and Sandwell (north west Birmingham and east Sandwell)

- North Staffordshire (Stoke and east Newcastle under Lyme)

- Manchester and Salford (north and east Manchester and central

Salford)

- Merseyside (inner Liverpool, south Sefton and parts of Wirral);

- Oldham and Rochdale

- East Lancashire (Blackburn, Hyndburn, Burnley, Pendle)

2. The projects' aim is to provide lasting solutions for communities

blighted by derelict homes through investment and innovation. They

will do this by developing a strategic approach for regenerating

their sub-regional housing markets that will bring together key

stakeholders, inform future investment, and include social and

economic regeneration alongside housing. There will be opportunities

for other areas affected to learn from the pathfinder projects.

3. The pathfinder projects will enable the proper preparation that is

so vital if capital investment spending is to achieve good value.

Independent scrutiny by the Audit Commission of the strategic schemes

that each pathfinder is required to prepare and their subsequent

delivery will underpin this.

4. In carrying out this work the commission will utilise skill

already honed through inspection regimes and supplement these will

other skills to reflect the social and economic regeneration agendas

the low demand pathfinders need to pursue alongside housing.

5. The development of pathfinders' strategic plans is being assisted

by£25m made available through the Capital Modernisation Fund.

Further funding for the pathfinder projects will be announced by the

deputy prime minister early in the new year.

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