HC Deb 17 June 1992 vol 209 cc890-1
13. Mr. Simon Coombs

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on the estate action programme.

Sir George Young

The estate action programme now makes a major contribution to tackling the problems of run-down local authority estates. Resources have increased from £268 million last year to £364 million this year, and I shall shortly be inviting local authorities to submit proposals for new schemes to begin in 1993–94.

Mr. Coombs

Will my hon. Friend accept the congratulations of the House on a scheme that has contrived to spend £640 million in the seven years since it was first introduced on 700 schemes spread over 140 local authority areas, and of which he could lay claim to be the progenitor? Will he look at the publicity for the scheme to ensure that it is brought to the attention of other newer local authorities that may have lesser problems than those of the recipients of money so far? At the same time. will he look at the criteria by which schemes are judged, so that those authorities may also lay claim to some of the resources that he plans to make available?

Sir George Young

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. It is indeed the case that more than 250,000 homes have been improved under estate action, which has helped to transform the lives of people living on some of our most difficult estates. As I said, I shall shortly be inviting local authorities to bid for the schemes for next year, and I will ensure that information about the estate action programme is widely disseminated.

If there are proposals to change the rules to make better use of the money, I shall be happy to discuss them with local authorities.

Mr. George Howarth

I welcome the continued development of the estate action programme, but since, as the Minister will be aware, a large part of that programme involves tenant participation, how far has his Department's consideration of tenant participation strategy got and when will the report be published? Clearly, one has a bearing on the other.

Sir George Young

We have made some investment in organisations such as the tenant participation advisory service. The proposals that we published last week on competitive tendering for housing management gave tenants for the first time the right to manage, rather than relying on the discretion of a local authority. We are determined to harness tenants associations' energy and enthusiasm as we develop our housing policy. We are keen to see more estate management boards, tenant management organisations and co-operatives taking over responsibility for their estates. That is a theme about which we shall hear a lot during the next four or five years.