HC Deb 17 March 1976 vol 907 cc1299-300
3. Mr. Stephen Ross

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment when he expects to be able to make an announcement concerning the raising of the present rateable value limits restricting the availability of improvement grants.

The Minister for Housing and Construction (Mr. Reginald Freeson)

I have already announced increases in the rateable value limits for grants for conversion schemes, and I am considering whether other changes in the rules are needed.

Mr. Ross

Is the Minister aware that if he could speed up the raising of the limits, that would have the effect of assisting the Government in their stated policy of concentrating on renovation rather than demolition? This matter is causing concern at the moment. This one step would help enormously if he could announce it quickly.

Mr. Freeson

We will do that as soon as we can. I accept the general proposition put to me by the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Lawson

When considering further developments, will the Minister give particular consideration to the possibility of raising the rateable value limit, as that affects the provision of extra accommodation for the disabled?

Mr. Freeson

I will certainly take that point aboard. I hope in the not too distant future to make a statement on the progress which has been made generally in housing for the disabled during the last 12 months or so.

Mr. Michael Morris

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the present levels of improvement grants are approximately half what they were under the Conservative Administration? Does he not think that two years is sufficient time to see that there is a need for some change towards relaxing the rateable value criteria?

Mr. Freeson

I am not sure what the hon. Gentleman is seeking from me. I have already indicated the recent decision by my right hon. Friend to change the rateable values for new conversions. Other ideas are being looked at and we will make an announcement as soon as we can.