HC Deb 04 June 1980 vol 985 cc1398-9
4. Mr. Cadbury

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what is his policy regarding the provision of option mortgage facilities to retired non-taxpayers for the purchase of mortgage-linked annuities.

The Minister for Housing and Construction (Mr. John Stanley)

The proposal that my hon. Friend describes would require an increase in public expenditure for which no provision can be made at present. Moreover, within the housing public expenditure available we consider that priority should be given to those who need rented accommodation or who wish to buy for the first time.

Mr. Cadbury

Does my hon. Friend agree that the scheme is an excellent way of giving elderly home owners an income while enabling them to remain in their homes? Can not the Government see their way to giving that group a concession equivalent to that enjoyed by better-off home owners who get tax relief on similar annuities?

Mr. Stanley

I am obviously sympathetic to the general intention of my hon. Friend to try to make it easier for elderly, low-income owner-occupiers to remain in their own homes, but it is an inescapable fact that his proposal would require an increase in public expenditure and we are not able to contemplate that at the moment.

Mr. Stephen Ross

Is the Minister aware that an increase in public expenditure will be needed anyway to house elderly people who own their properties, but can no longer afford to live in them? If he cannot introduce an option mortgage scheme, will he at least introduce a scheme allowing elderly people to sell the freehold of their properties and lease them back for the rest of their lifetimes? Such schemes are available, but they are limited and are operated only by merchant banks. Surely this is an area in which local authorities could play a useful role.

Mr. Stanley

If it can be done without an increase in public expenditure, I shall be grateful if the hon. Member will provide me with details.