HC Deb 15 July 1992 vol 211 c1136
15. Mr. Raynsford

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he will publish estimates of the need for social housing in England.

Sir George Young

We publish projections of future household numbers based on demographic trends. It is not practical to sub-divide that and make a single estimate of the need for social housing because of the subjective judgment involved in assessing who should have access to social housing and the volatility of some of the factors influencing any assessment, such as house prices, incomes and interest rates.

Mr. Raynsford

Will the Minister reconsider his answer? Will he recognise that the Audit Commission not only made it perfectly clear in its recent report that it was possible and appropriate to carry out and publish such estimates, but its first recommendation said that the Government should publish estimates of housing needs. When will the Government take housing needs in this country seriously?

Sir George Young

I have in front of me some relevant paragraphs from the Audit Commission, which support what I have just said: Definitions of need are value judgments … The point on the spectrum at which the definition of need is drawn is a matter of judgment and is partly conditioned by available resources". It goes on to say that such forecasts are not easy. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will accept that there are imponderables which are difficult to forecast, some of which I have just listed.

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