§ Lord HYLTON
asked Her Majesty's Government:
Whether there was any under-spending in England and Scotland on housing during 1976–77, comparable to that which occurred in Wales, and if so what steps they are taking to prevent a similar situation occurring during the current year.
§ The PARLIAMENTARY UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE, DEPARTMENT of the ENVIRONMENT (Baroness Birk)
The recent Working Party Report to the Welsh Office refers to under-spendings on housing provision by local authorities in Wales in 1976–77. On a comparable basis there was also a substantial under-spend in Scotland and proportionately a smaller one in England.
The Government are concerned that housing authorities should take full advantage of the resources made available within the authorised cash limits. However, the rate of expenditure depends upon a variety of factors, some of which are outside the control of the Departments concerned and, indeed, outside the control of the local authorities themselves.
The level of expenditure on all housing programmes is continually monitored by the Departments concerned. The introduction of housing strategies and investment programmes in England and Wales and housing plans in Scotland will facilitate action where there are signs of under- or over-spending. In particular, experience with the introduction of wider powers in 1977–78 for authorities to switch expenditure from one programme to another should be of especial help. However, it must be recognised that scope for corrective action within a financial year is limited.