HC Deb 08 March 1972 vol 832 cc1436-7
24. Mr. Allason

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what progress is being made in the establishment of housing aid centres.

Mr. Amery

According to my latest information 14 local authorities have so far set up housing aid centres or are in other ways offering advisory services of the kind that such centres can provide. A number of other authorities have similar schemes on the stocks. Some voluntary organisations are also active in this field.

Mr. Allason

While I welcome the progress in the provision of this new service may I ask whether my right hon. Friend does not feel that this should be a nation-wide service in view of the many people throughout the country, especially young married couples, who are in need of accommodation? In particular is it not more necessary now in view of the new hope for the homeless raised by the introduction of rent allowances through the Housing Finance Bill?

Mr. Amery

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. I have considered whether we should have a statutory requirement for local authorities to provide centres of this kind but the need for housing or for advisory services will vary from area to area according to local circumstances. I thought it better to leave it to the local authorities to devise the best means they can achieve.

Mrs. Renée Short

What advice would such a housing aid centre, if established in Hemel Hempstead, give to sitting tenants of the development corporation who wish to buy their houses and who are now being refused permission by the corporation?

Mr. Amery

Perhaps the hon. Lady would like to put down a separate Question dealing with that.

Mr. Freeson

Out of the 14 authorities to which the Minister has referred, can he tell us how many have established centres as distinct from those offering advisory services of a more general kind?

Mr. Amery

I wrote to 15 London boroughs with special housing stress last April. Of that number three have opened centres, eight have firm proposals for doing so and one tells me that it is giving the matter serious consideration.