Homes Communities Agency plans cost-cutting panel review

The Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) could cut its panel by up to 50 per cent in response to complaints from its regional advisers that they   were not getting enough work from the regeneration body.

Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP), DLA Piper, Eversheds and Pinsent Masons won mandates from the HCA when it was first launched in 2008 along with Browne Jacobson, legacy Hammonds and Walker Morris.

The first formal roster was first assembled in 2010 (1 February 2010).

Head of legal Isabella Freeman said the impending review would involve the overhaul of the regional roster to allow work to be distributed more evenly.

Freeman said: “Some of the panel members felt they weren’t getting enough work”, adding that several firms complained that “the big city firms were getting the more complex work”.

Traditionally the panel was organised along regional lines with one national and three regional sub-panels in the central, south and north of England. Those on the central panel included Browne Jacobson, legacy Denton Wilde Sapte and Hewitsons.

The organisation has now restructured the panel into two lots and has invited firms to bid for work split between land and regulation issues.

The agency is seeking to appoint five to seven firms for its land work, and three to five for regulation work.

Among the services for the land panel will be housing, procurement, commercial law, company law, planning and litigation work.

The regulatory lot divided into a smaller number of issues including commercial insolvency and administrative jobs.

The body will ask firms to submit both fixed fee prices for specific pieces of work as well as fixed hourly rates and said cost efficiency was key to its consideration of tender documents.

As well as the chosen firms, the HCA will conduct mini tenders throughout the year, encouraging its roster firms to compete for select pieces of work. The formal tender for the panel will close in January.

The HCA is the non-departmental public body funding new affordable housing in England and was handed a £4.5bn investment in the new budget to deliver programmes like the government’s Help to Buy scheme in 2013.

It was created in December 2008 through the merger of the Housing Corporation and English Partnerships. It was recently handed a £4.5bn government investment and is pushing through the national Help to Buy and Affordable Homes schemes.

The current panel arrangements are:

North

Pannone

Walker Morris

FDR Law

Central

SNR Denton

Hewitsons

Browne Jacobson

South

SNR Denton

DLA Piper

Ashfords

Bond Dickinson

Squire Sanders

National

Eversheds

Pinsent Masons

Berwin Leighton Paisner

Trowers and Hamlin