§ Mr. Nicholas Brown
To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what discussions he has had with Newcastle Gateshead Pathfinder dealing with the under-occupancy in designated local government wards in Newcastle and Gateshead; and if he will make a statement.(136024]
§ Keith Hill
The Newcastle/Gateshead Pathfinder's initial strategic scheme has been received by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister will be discussing the details of the scheme with the pathfinder in the coming weeks. One of the aims of the pathfinder programme is to achieve a better match between the housing stock available locally and the needs of households in the pathfinder area. It is expected that pathfinder strategies will propose a mixture of clearance, new build and refurbishment/remodelling to achieve this better balance.
In addition, local authorities are subject to regular monitoring by the Audit Commission Housing Inspectorate's Best Value regime which checks for the efficient use of public sector housing stock in meeting the needs of local residents.