HC Deb 19 March 1986 vol 94 cc286-7
13. Mrs. Virginia Bottomley

asked the Secretary of State for the environment what information he has concerning the number of local authorities and housing associations which have offered shared ownership as a means of home ownership to their tenants.

Sir George Young

All local authorities, new towns, and registered housing associations are under a statutory obligation to offer shared ownership terms to their secure tenants who wish to buy their homes. In addition, they may sell housing on shared ownership terms to other buyers.

In England, between 1979 and September 1985, there have been 16,505 shared ownership sales by housing associations, 5,870 by local authorities, and 3,070 by new towns.

The number of sales by each local authority and new town corporation is published quarterly by my Department in "Local Housing Statistics."

Mrs. Bottomley

Has my hon. Friend any other plans to encourage shared-ownership as an effective way of helping those with limited means on to the ladder of home ownership?

Sir George Young

We have allocated £57 million to the Housing Corporation to make further progress with shared ownership schemes, and the building societies and other financial institutions are contemplating investing in this sector. It is worth reminding public sector tenants, who want to buy but whose income does not stretch to outright purchase, that they have a right to buy half their home and rent the other half, on the move up to full ownership as their incomes rise.

Mr. Pavitt

In developing the shared ownership of housing, is the Minister concerned about further developing the co-operative sector? In his relationship with the Housing Corporation, will the £57 million be allocated only to housing associations, or is some of it to be designated for co-operatives? When he next talks to the Housing Corporation, will he again seek to institute the cooperative sector, which was so successful but which was wound up just a few years ago?

Sir George Young

The figure that I mentioned was the allocation for shared ownership. There is a separate allocation for co-operatives. The Government are very keen to promote the notion of co-operatives. There are provisions in the Housing and Planning Bill which make further progress, and we shall be pursuing this with the Housing Corporation.

Mr. Rooker

Is the Minister aware that when shared ownership was invented as the half-and-half scheme by the Labour-controlled authority in Birmingham in the 1970s, it worked? This is a classic case of a scheme being taken on nationally, and, unfortunately, the Treasury has a hand in it. Can he do more to encourage the necessary Treasury guarantees to the rented element so that the building societies and others can get involved in shared ownership in the way that was intended originally?

Sir George Young

The Treasury takes a lot of blame for all sorts of things, but it is a little unrealistic to blame it for the failure to make faster progress with shared ownership. With the public sector, no guarantees are involved. There is a right to shared ownership by public sector tenants. As for the private sector, following the implementation of the Building Societies Bill, the societies are contemplating investing in this area, and discussions are going on to see how we can make faster progress and how we can ensure that there is commercial viability in shared ownership financed by the private sector.

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