§ Mr. Jenkin
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what further conclusions he has reached following his consultation exercise on the development of the local authority housing investment programme process.
§ Sir George Young
Last May, my Department launched a major consultation exercise on the further development of the local authority housing investment programme process. The consultation paper made proposals designed to improve the way in which housing resources are used and to stimulate the involvement of local people in this process. It was suggested that local authorities should prepare new strategies covering the full range of housing activities in their area. It was also proposed that decisions on the initial allocation of Housing Corporation funding should be co-ordinated with local authorities' housing strategies for each area and recent trends in the allocation of HIP resources, designed to promote better value for the money spent through housing capital programmes, should be developed.
Interim decisions on these matters, covering points which it was necessary to settle in time for the 1992 HIP round, were issued in July, Official Report, 10 July 1992, column 384. We have now reached conclusions on the framework for the HIP process in 1993 and later years.
Our view is that the HIP process should develop progressively in a flexible manner, which allows scope for the differing circumstances of authorities and the developing housing policies of both local and central Government. To facilitate this, we intend to invite all housing authorities to draw up annual housing strategy statements in which each authority describes the needs and resources for housing in their area, and the plans and programmes which the authority has for addressing them. Housing strategies should be developed in consultation with the Housing Corporation, housing associations, the private housing sector, both rental and owner occupied, house builders, the voluntary sector, tenants groups and other interested parties. They should encompass all relevant functions and resources of the authority in a corporate approach.
Alongside this, we intend to build on this year's success in co-ordinating the arrangements for the HIP and the Housing Corporation's approved development programme processes. We have reaffirmed our view that there is a role for a significant element of discretion in the 705W allocation of HIP resources, including a primary allocation criterion based on the efficiency and effectiveness of authorities in meeting housing need. And in particular we have reached the view that the statistical index used in the allocation of HIP resources—the generalised needs index or GNI—should be comprehensively reviewed, with special reference to the year-on-year stability of the index.
In the spring, the Department will issue guidance to local authorities on the preparation of housing strategy statements and the submission of HIP bids for 1994–95.
I have now asked officials to take forward discussions on the practical implications of these decisions with the local authority associations, the Housing Corporation, the National Federation of Housing Associations and other interested parties, as appropriate.
I have placed in the Libraries of the House copies of a note which gives more detail of the decisions we have taken.