HC Deb 24 January 1990 vol 165 cc886-7
13. Mr. David Nicholson

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what representations he has received following the announcement of allocations to local authorities for their housing investment programmes in 1990–91.

Mr. Chope

Very few representations have been received. While some have been critical, others have welcomed the doubling of HIP allocations in 1990–91 and the better targeting of those resources.

Mr. Nicholson

My hon. Friend will be aware that, during progress on last year's Local Government Housing Bill, I made several representations about the specific problems in the urban areas of Taunton Deane. We are grateful for the recognition of those problems in next year's allocations. We also note that the inner cities again receive the lion's share of the new money. As my hon. Friend the Member for Welwyn Hatfield (Mr. Evans) pointed out, Labour councils do not always use their resources effectively. Will my hon. Friend the Minister, do his best to ensure that those Labour councils fill their empty council homes, collect rent and rate arrears and work constructively with the private sector to meet housing need?

Mr. Chope

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his appreciation of the increased HIP allocation for Taunton Deane. It has almst quadrupled for next year and it shows the effectiveness of our new system of targeting. My hon. Friend was right to express frustration at the way that many Labour authorities use the large sums of money that the Government make available to them. I hope that more of them will heed his points and get better value for money.

Mr. O'Brien

Will the Minister confirm that local authority associations have made repeated representations to his Department because the HIP programme has been reduced? Will he also confirm that the reduction during the past 10 years under this Government has meant a reduction in affordable homes and in homes available for the elderly? Even with the increase for 1991, is there not a reduction of more than 25 per cent. on last year because of the way that the housing programme has been manipulated by his Department? When will he give the full facts about the housing investment programme and about the needs and demands of the local authorities that are required to meet the need for affordable housing?

Mr. Chope

I am sorry to have to tell the House that the hon. Gentleman has got his facts wrong. HIP allocations next year will be more than £2 billion, which is more than double this year's allocation, and total public expenditure on housing capital next year will be more than £4.4 billion, which is 7 per cent. higher than this year's provision.