A programme to rejuvenate the housing market in some of England’s most deprived neighbourhoods will come under attack today from the National Audit Office. Financial Times

Despite £2.2bn of public money being committed to the Pathfinder housing market renewal programme up to 2011, the NAO says it is not possible to identify a “causal link” between this activity and housing market changes, because many other factors are involved.

Pathfinder was launched in 2002 to tackle acute low housing demand in nine areas of the Midlands and the north. The aim was to change their housing stock through mass demolitions, rebuilding and refurbishment.

So far, 10,200 properties have been demolished, 40,000 refurbished and 1,000 homes built. Original plans to demolish 90,000 properties, which provoked outcry in some areas, have been modified but almost 37,000 homes are still scheduled to be knocked down.

The NAO report says low demand for housing is less severe in pathfinder areas and the gap with surrounding regions has started to close.

However, intervention had in some cases exacerbated problems in the short term, as houses had been vacated in advance of demolition or refurbishment. While the programme had improved conditions for some neighbourhoods, for others it had heightened stress in the short term.