HC Deb 08 December 1980 vol 995 c282W
Mr. Alton

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment how many local authorities have been given permission to proceed with capital projects covered by the moratorium; which are the local authorities; and what is the total value of the schemes.

Mr. Stanley

All local authorities were advised by a letter from the Department dated 3 December that the standstill on new local authority housing capital expenditure set out in circular 19/80 need not apply in the following categories of case. It is for each authority to decide whether a particular item of proposed capital expenditure falls within those categories.

The relevant extract from this letter is as follows.

"Authorities may find it helpful to have the following information amplifying and clarifying that given in Circular 19/80:

  1. (a) As announced in a Parliamentary Answer by the Minister for Housing and Construction on 6 November, adaptations to homes in both the private and public sectors which lousing authorities consider essential to the effective operation of the arrangements set out in DoE Circular 59/78* should be regarded as exempt from the constraints authorities have been asked to observe by Circular 19/80.
  2. (b) Where discretionary grants had been approved before the receipt of Circular 19/80 payments should be made as they fall due, but no new grants should normally be approved. However, in cases where an authority had informally agreed before the receipt of Circular 19/80 to make a grant, the Secretary of State would not object to the authority's approving the grant if they regard themselves as having a moral commitment to do so (eg in cases where the applicant has received an offer of a mortgage as a result of the authority's agreement to approve a grant). The mere fact that an application had been made before Circular 1980 was received is not in itself sufficient reason for disregarding the Secretary of State's request
  3. (c) The action requested by Circular 19/80 does not apply where legal ability may arise:
    1. (i) as the result of tenders accepted before the receipt of Circular 19/80 where no formal contract has been entered into;
    2. (ii) in respect of costs incurred in the preparation of a scheme which the authority cannot at present proceed with;
    3. (iii) in respect of a specific statutory obligation to any individual or body corporate;
    4. (iv) in respect of defects to existing premises.
    if expenditure is not incurred.
  4. (d) Further, Circular 19/80 does not apply to any sum or sums left outstanding by way of mortgage by a local authority on the sale of council houses (these are not a charge on HIP allocations because they do not entail any new expenditure by the local authority)."

*Circular 59/78 provides guidance to social services authorities and housing authorities on joint means of provision for the disabled.

From the information available to me, all new projects that have been given permission to proceed since circular 19/80 was issued have been within the categories set out in the letter of 3 December, apart from a single new bungalow in North Kesteven being built for a family with an imperative medical need at a cost of £30,000.