HC Deb 27 June 1979 vol 969 c436
22. Mr. Dubs

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what was the total underspending by local authorities in England and Wales in 1978 on house building and improvements, respectively; and how many new or improved homes were lost as a result of this underspending.

Mr. Stanley

English local authorities are provisionally estimated to have underspent their 1978–79 block 1 HIP allocation, which includes provision for new house building and improvement, by about £200 million. It is impossible to say how many new or improved houses might be represented by this sum because block I allocations include other items, such as slum clearance or land acquisition, on which authorities might have planned to spend their money.

Mr. Dubs

Does the Minister accept that the underspending is frequently not the fault of local authorities? Will he do what he can to give more flexibility to the arrangements to prevent local authorities having difficulties? Above all, will he take the underspending fully into account before making any cuts in local authority housing expenditures?

Mr. Stanley

As I made clear in answer to an earlier question, the announcements made by my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer do not cut the spend for the current year. I have already said that we wish to give local authorities a greater measure of flexibility.