Boris Johnson's former deputy Ed Lister is new Homes and Communities Agency chair

Key aide to Boris Johnson has the “experience and leadership” to ensure the government’s housing targets are met, says communities secretary Greg Clark

By Jim Dunton

23 Jun 2016

The HCA's new chair Sir Ed Lister served as former Mayor of London Boris Johnson’s deputy policy and planning. Image: DCLG

Communities secretary Greg Clark has confirmed the appointment of Sir Ed Lister as the new chair of the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA).

The HCA is tasked with supporting regeneration, driving economic growth and delivering housing needs outside of the capital. The mayor of London has responsibility for those roles in the capital. The HCA is also responsible for regulating social housing providers in England.

Lister served as former Mayor of London Boris Johnson’s deputy mayor for policy and planning for five years, until last month’s change of administration at City Hall. He was also chief of staff at the Greater London Authority.

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His new role will see Lister tasked with delivering on the Conservative Party’s housing-related election manifesto commitments, not least the delivery of 200,000 discounted “starter homes” for first-time buyers under the age of 40 over the next four years.

Greg Clark said Lister, who was the Conservative leader of Wandsworth Borough Council for 19 years, had years of experience to bring to his new role.

“The government is determined to help anyone who aspires to own their own home achieve their dream,” he said.

“The HCA has a big role to play in driving up housing; Sir Edward’s experience and leadership that he brings to the HCA will ensure it is delivering the homes our nation needs.”

Sceptics are likely to point to London’s inability to deliver the quantity of new housing it is widely accepted to need, and question the HCA’s ability to deal with the nationwide shortfall.

After his election as London mayor last month, Sadiq Khan said the previous administration had “let down the capital” and “left the cupboard bare” in terms of its record of delivering affordable housing. 

The capital currently delivers around half of the 50,000 new homes a year it is said to need. Nationally, the most recent official statistics showed 139,690 new homes were completed in England in 2015-16. 

Housing sector consensus says a national figure of more than 200,000 new homes a year is required to keep up with demand and make up for previous under-delivery.

David Orr, chief executive of housing association lobby group the National Housing Federation, said he believed Lister would provide strong leadership for the HCA.

“This appointment comes to the role at a time of challenge and change for the housing sector,” he said. “Despite this new environment, housing associations remain hugely ambitious and are already adapting to the task. 

“It is vital that investment and regulation is flexible, creative and supportive to make the most of the opportunities ahead.”

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