To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the terms of reference are of his inquiry into affordable housing in Birmingham; and whether (a) officers and (b) members of Birmingham city council will be consulted during the inquiry.
The aim of the inquiry about provision of affordable housing in Birmingham was to establish how the city council could achieve optimal affordable housing outputs from the Government subsidy provided from the Regional Housing Board Affordable Housing Programme allocations in the immediate future and over the longer term.
The Housing Corporation has reported to me that it has discussed with Birmingham city council the effect of land costs for housing associations on the 2006–08 Affordable Housing Programme as there were concerns that high land costs were delaying housing associations from planning new social housing in the city. I understand that the Housing Corporation and Birmingham city council have made significant progress with regards to land costs and improving value for money which has resulted in an increase in the new homes that can be provided through the Housing Corporation's Affordable Housing Programme for 2006–08.
There remains a concern about the council's longer term approach as it progresses its plans to dispose of surplus housing land to provide new affordable homes or other community facilities. I therefore have asked officials in Government office west midlands to continue to investigate with the city council its approach to the sale of housing land, and the implications of this for the provision of affordable housing and wider neighbourhood regeneration in the city in the long term.