Tony Poulter will lead the review which forms part of the Public Bodies Review programme

The government has today announced a review of Homes England to ensure it is “delivering for the taxpayer”.

The non-departmental public body that funds new affordable housing in England is among 40 bodies chosen for “routine review” as part of the Public Bodies Review programme.

Department for Transport board non-exec Tony Poulter, has been asked to lead the review. The former PwC consultant said in a statement: “I hope to […] come to recommendations that will help the Department for Levelling Up, Homes and Communities (DLUHC) and Homes England to be as effective as possible in meeting their objectives”.

tony-poulter DFT homes england review

Tony Poulter has been asked to lead the review

“I am very happy to have been asked to lead this review. Homes England has huge responsibilities for delivering housing and regenerating places throughout the country.”

Homes England was last fully reviewed in 2016 when it was known as the Homes and Communities Agency.

Three separate internal reviews were held in 2020, each of which recommended improvements in how the DLUHC and Homes England work together in partnership, as well as in governance structures, accountability and purpose. The review comes shortly after Homes England finally published a long-awaited strategic plan, which it said would see it re-align itself around regeneration, rather than just pure housing delivery.

The latest review will assess “whether the current powers, legal form and delivery model of Homes England are appropriate to the functions it is expected to perform.”

It will also examine “whether the way the agency and its programmes are assessed allows it to deliver social and economic value.”

The efficiency, governance and accountability of Homes England, and how it operates with the DLUHC, will also be in the remit of the review.

>> See also Homes England’s new focus on placemaking and regeneration is long overdue

>>See also Affordable homes funding overhaul unveiled as government misses programme target

Poulter and his team will consult a broad range of stakeholders including UK government departments, consumers, businesses, and representative bodies, as well as with Homes England’s own board, staff and senior management.

The announcement of the review comes as it was revealed that Homes England delivered 36,478 new home starts on-site and 32,990 completions between 1 April 2022 and 31 March 2023 - both sharp drops on the figures for the previous year. Chief executive Peter Denton said the numbers reflected “the delivery challenges faced by the housebuilding sector over the past year.”

Homes England has a portfolio of over 9,000 hectares of land and around £16bn of combined capital spend (loan, grant, equity, and guarantees) to deploy by 2027/28.

In its delivery of the Help to Buy programme, it is the sixth largest mortgage lender in England. It has a range of statutory powers, including compulsory purchase, that it can use to deliver its objectives. 

Rachel Maclean, minister for housing and planning, said: “We remain committed to our target of building 300,000 homes per year, and this review into Homes England will look into how we work together as we continue building the homes this country needs.”

A spokesperson for Homes England said: “This is part of a standard review process led by the cabinet office that all Arms Length Bodies are subject to, and that usually takes place every three years. Homes England’s last review was over six years ago, and as such we look forward to working with the lead reviewer and their team.”