Lesley Griffiths, Minister for Communities and Tackling Poverty
Last year, my predecessor, Carl Sargeant AM, as Minister for Housing and Regeneration, announced the Regeneration Investment Fund for Wales (RIFW) was being brought under direct Ministerial control. This decision was taken because of continuing uncertainty caused by the Wales Audit Office study into the circumstances surrounding the sale of land assets by the Fund.
Whilst we await completion of the Wales Audit Office study I have decided the Fund’s investment activities should remain suspended. However. it is important we should continue to do all we can to make best use of the resources tied up in the Fund. I have, therefore, concluded it is now the appropriate time to commission the Fund to undertake a review of how loan finance of the sort the Fund was designed to invest may be best targeted at regeneration projects in Wales in future. The review will be undertaken by the RIFW Fund Manager, Amber Fund Management Limited, under the Fund’s existing contractual commitment.
The review process will need to involve Local Authorities, Registered Social Landlords and private sector developers. The review will be able to take into account more recent developments, including the vital investment we are making under the Vibrant and Viable Places Programme. RIFW continues to support the Neath town centre scheme. The status of other projects that had previously applied to RIFW will be considered as part of the review. Apart from the Neath scheme, no decision will be taken on how the resources tied up in the Fund should be invested until the review has been completed.
We will continue to offer every support to enable the Auditor General to complete the work necessary to be able to publish his report as soon as possible.
I will make a further statement to Assembly Members once the outcome of this review has been determined.