NAO finds little merit in pathfinder scheme

pathfinder housing market renewal programme

The National Audit
(NAO) has criticized the
housing market renewal programme
, launched in 2002 in nine areas in the
Midlands and the North of England to revive neighbourhoods which had suffered
long-standing deprivation, as ‘risky’.

A newly released NAO report found that despite £2.2bn of public money being
committed to the scheme, it could find no ‘causal’ link between pathfinder
activity and improvements in housing markets. Although conditions had improved
in some neighbourhoods, in others it had led to increased stress in the short

Under the programme, 40,000 homes have been refurbished and 1,100 new homes
built. About 10,200 properties have also been demolished. In a number of areas
there has been opposition to demolition projects and the original plans to
demolish 90,000 properties have been reduced to 57,100.

‘Housing market renewal is a radical programme but it is a high-risk
approach,’ Sir John Bourn, departing NAO head, said. ‘While there have been
physical improvements in some neighbourhoods, it is unclear whether intervention
itself has led to improvement in the problems of low demand. And in some cases
intervention has exacerbated problems in the short-term.’

Further reading:

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