HC Deb 12 May 1971 vol 817 cc370-1
48. Mr. Geoffrey Finsberg

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the average level of increases recently announced in the housing cost yardstick; what arrangements have been made in respect of special allowances for old people's accommodation; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Channon

The yardstick increases range from about 7 per cent. to about 12 per cent. according to the nature and location of the scheme. The largest increases are for low density and for old people's schemes. The allowances for the latter have been raised by £50 per dwelling.

Mr. Finsberg

Is my hon. Friend aware that there is some disquiet at the length of time that it took to update the yardstick, and also that the amount, particularly in Inner London, may not be as high as it should be?

Mr. Channon

I will certainly look at the figures for Inner London. If my hon. Friend has any evidence on that matter, I will be delighted to examine it. As to the length of time, my right hon. Friend has determined to make sure that the yardstick remains realistic. I believe that the new yardstick figures will prove to be realistic.

Mr. Frank Allaun

Since it is vital to maintain the best standard and design for council housing, will the hon. Gentleman consider varying the yardstick annually, rather than waiting, as at present, for five years before renewing it?

Mr. Channon

The hon. Gentleman is quite wrong. The yardstick has been changed several times. It was changed last year, I think on 1st April, and it was changed again this year. There has has been an annual review. The purpose is to keep this up to date and realistic—that is the important point.