§ 18. Mr. Wigley
To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what is his estimate of the number of houses built in Wales this year to date (a) by district councils and (b) by housing associations; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Nicholas Bennett
Provisional data on completions between January and October 1990 show that 529 dwellings were completed by local authorities and 1, 278 by housing associations.
§ Mr. Wigley
Does the Minister accept that those figures are absolutely appalling? The figures that he quoted for district councils compare with 200,000 dwellings a year being built in the 1970s and the acknowledged housing association need of 5,000 new dwellings a year. Is he aware that the 40,000 homeless people in Wales and the 80,000 people who are living in unfit houses just cannot wait for that level of programme to meet their needs? There needs to be an awareness in the Welsh Office that we have a housing crisis, and something must be done about it now.
§ Mr. Bennett
The hon. Gentleman spoils his argument by exaggerating the figures. The figures that he gave are nowhere near those that exist either for homelessness or for completions. Private sector completions in Wales in 1989 were at the highest level for 17 years. We are also concerned to increase the stock of housing available in 13 Wales. Housing associations, in conjunction with Housing for Wales, are now on target for 3,000 completions for the year.
§ Mr. Raffan
Will the Minister do his utmost to encourage local authorities in Wales to increase the amount of sheltered accommodation, as this is one of the most effective ways of reducing the amount of homelessness in Wales by enabling single elderly people to move out of two and three-bedroom council houses?
§ Mr. Bennett
My hon. Friend makes a very good point, not only in the number of houses released; it is also good sense for the elderly people concerned, as it enables them to maintain their independence by living within the community without having to go into residential homes.