HC Deb 09 February 1960 vol 617 cc204-5
12. Mr. Dodds

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs, in view of the growing concern at the shortage of suitable accommodation for old people, what action he proposes to take to stimulate the provision of one-bedroomed dwellings for elderly people at rents they can afford.

Mr. H. Brooke

Action has already been taken. Special subsidy is available; a booklet has been issued suggesting good and economical designs; and I lose no opportunity of encouraging local authorities to build more for the elderly. As a result, the proportion of one-bedroomed dwellings completed by local authorities has increased from 7.7 per cent. in 1951 to 22 per cent. in 1959. In current building programmes the proportion is now more than 27 per cent., and is still increasing. The local authorities should have no difficulty in fixing suitable rents provided they pool all their subsidies and give assistance only to those families in council houses who genuinely need it.

Mr. Dodds

Whilst again thanking the right hon. Gentleman for something, may I ask whether he does not think that the situation is now such that more should be done? Will he consider trying to find the size of this problem, because we have a rapidly ageing population and the evidence from so many places is that local authorities are not even tackling the problem at present?

Mr. Brooke

Wherever I go I encourage local authorities to build a larger proportion of these one-bedroom houses or flats, or flatlets, for old people, and some excellent designs are now in use. I am grateful to the hon. Member, because every reference to this subject brings additional attention to it; but it rests with local authorities to respond to the lead I am giving.

Mr. M. Stewart

The Minister mentioned the percentage of local authority building of this kind. Could he give us the number of these dwellings on those dates?

Mr. Brooke

Not exactly, but I could say that their number in 1959 was approximately double that in 1951.