§ The Minister of State, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (Lord Rooker):
My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
I am delighted to announce the award of a total of £80 million to two more housing market renewal pathfinders over the next two years to begin to implement their strategic schemes. The funding comes from the £500 million market renewal fund announced 16WS in Sustainable Communities: building for the future in February 2003.
I am allocating this funding to the two pathfinders in the west Midlands region. This will allow activity in the area to tackle the most acute weak and failing housing markets in the region and create sustainable communities. The investment from the market renewal fund will be complemented by significant investment from other public programmes as well as from the private sector.
I am announcing today that the north Staffordshire market renewal pathfinder will receive £30 million and that the Birmingham Sandwell market renewal pathfinder will receive £50 million until March 2006 to start to tackle the problems caused by low demand. This is in addition to £4 million each received for an early action programme in June 2003.
By March 2006 the pathfinders expect to deliver: in North Staffordshire, the demolition of over 80 homes, the refurbishment of over 300 homes, more than 280 housing acquisitions, and additional management measures to over 11,500 homes; and in Birmingham and Sandwell, the demolition of over 590 homes, the refurbishment of 1600 homes, over 150 new homes built, more than 280 housing acquisitions, and additional management measures to over 9,000 homes.
Each of the pathfinder schemes has been independently scrutinised by the Audit Commission, and its findings have been published in a report. The Audit Commission has looked at the evidence base and the proposed strategy to help ensure that the schemes are realistic, offer value for money and will deliver long-term housing market renewal. To meet that aim the Audit Commission has made a number of recommendations about each scheme. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and each pathfinder have accepted all the recommendations and funding will depend on effectively addressing them.