§ Mr. David Atkinson
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment when he intends to exercise the new powers conferred on him by the Housing Act 1980 as it amends part VII of the Housing Act 1974 to make orders in relation to home improvement grants.
§ Mr. Stanley:
My right hon. Friends the Secretaries of State for the Environment and for Wales have today laid before the House for its approval a draft order to fix the rates at which local authorities will in future be able to pay home improvement grants and the level of exchequer contribution that will be made to such grants.
The order provides that the maximum rate of grant shall normally be 75 per cent. in priority cases defined as houses in housing action areas; houses elsewhere which are unfit, lack one or more of the standard amenities, or are in need of substantial and structural repair; and houses in multiple occupation which lack means of escape from fire. In other cases, the maximum rate of grant will normally be 50 per cent., except for houses in general improvement areas where it will be 65 per cent. Where an applicant is in hardship, the 50 per cent. rate of grant may be increased to 65 107W per cent. and the 75 per cent. rate to 90 per cent. Exchequer contribution would be payable at 90 per cent. where the rate of grant is 75 per cent. or 90 per cent. and at 75 per cent. in other cases.
My right hon. Friends will shortly be laying a further order, which will be subject to annulment, to increase the eligible expense limits for all grants. The order will provide that these limits should be higher in Greater London than elsewhere, in order to reflect the higher building costs, and that the eligible expense limits for improvement grants should be higher in priority cases.
Another order subject to annulment will provide for a higher proportion of an improvement grant to go towards repair works when a dwelling is in need of substantial and structural repair, and will provide that the new form of repairs grant shall be available for dwellings built before 1919, provided that in the case of owner-occupied dwellings their rateable value is less than £400 in Greater London or £225 elsewhere, unless they are in housing action areas where rateable value limits have been abolished by the Housing Act 1980.