§ Mr. Michael McGuire
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will give details of the measures introduced by the Government since 3 May 1979 to help the older industrial areas of the United Kingdom, such as the Ince constituency, in dealing with their housing problems, particularly the problem of housing schemes for the old and the handicapped.
§ Mr. Geoffrey Finsberg
In so far as the older industrial areas have greater housing532W needs than other areas, they have benefited from the greater weight which we have given to an objective assessment of housing needs in determining the housing investment programme allocations for 1980–81. Abolition of the three spending blocks into which allocations have hitherto been divided has increased authorities' freedom to direct their spending towards what they see as the housing priorities of their areas. The radical simplification of housing project control in 1981–82 will enable authorities to decide for themselves what kind of housing will best provide for the elderly and disabled in their areas. In addition, a number of measures designed to help the elderly and disabled will apply in the Ince constituency as elsewhere. New yardstick allowances have been introduced which will enable authorities, if they wish, to provide separate bedrooms rather than bed-sitting rooms in one-person old people's dwellings. The provisions in the Housing Bill relating to improvement grants will be of direct benefit to the elderly and disabled as well as to others of limited means. Changes have been made in the homes insulation scheme with the needs of the elderly particularly in mind. We have encouraged housing authorities to concentrate new housebuilding for rent on meeting needs, especially those of the elderly and disabled, which are unlikely to be met in other ways.