HC Deb 21 January 1981 vol 997 cc199-200W
Mr. Latham

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether, pursuant to the public speech of the Minister for Housing and Construction in Skelmersdale on 12 December regarding local authorities with substantial numbers of empty council houses, he will list those local authorities which had more than (a) 100, (b) 500 and (c) 1,000 dwellings which had been vacant for more than 12 months on 1 April 1980; and what action he intends to take in that regard.

Mr. Stanley

[pursuant to his reply, 19 January 1981]: Information provided by local authorities in their HIP return indicates that the following had 100 or more dwellings vacant for more that 12 months:

Dwellings vacant
Coventry 100
Sutton 105
Mendip 110
Wakefield 111
Rochdale 113
Kirkless 115
Kensington and Chelsea 121
Leeds 126
Bradford 145
Epping Forest 156
Wansbeck 171
Newham 172
Test Valley 198
Hounslow 200
Olaham 212
Portsmouth 218
Dwellings vacant
Leicester 255
Hillingdon 269
Wandsworth 273
Brent 274
Hamlets 307
Westminster 329
Forest 353
Calderdale 383
Sunderland 421
Haringey 548
Hammersmith 645
Corby 714
Lewisham 757
Birmingham 780
Camden 1,080
Lambeth 1,189
Southwark 1,196
Hackney 1,267
Knowsley 1,400
Islington 1,401
Manchester 1,869


A. Figures are for dwellings vacant between April 1979 and April 1980 and still vacant at the time of HIP submission in approximately July 1980.

B. Two authorities—Liverpool and Rotherham—have not included a figure in their HIP return of dwellings vacant for more than a year; a HIP 1 return is not submitted by the GLC.

The Government have taken extensive measures to help local authorities reduce the number of dwellings they have vacant—in particular:

  1. 1. Under the Housing Act 1980 authorities can improve dwellings for sale with the aid of an Exchequer grant of up to £3,250 per dwelling (details are in DOE Circular 20/80).
  2. 2. Authorities have been empowered to sell vacant dwellings in their present condition at discounts of up to 30 per cent. (details are in paragraph A(2) of the general consent dated 1 September 1980).
  3. 3. Authorities can apply to the Secretary of State under section 110 of the Housing Act 1980 for consent to waive the interest payments on mortgages for up to five years on houses and flats being sold for homesteading (details are set out in paragraphs 25 to 28 of DOE Circular 20/80).
  4. 4. As from 1 April 1981 the "30 year rule" is being abolished thus enabling housing subsidy to be paid on both improvement and capitalised repair expenditure on local authority dwellings which are less than 30 years old.
  5. 5. Under schedule 3 to the Housing Act 1980 authorities are able to make short term lettings of vacant dwellings to the following groups without creating secure tenancies:
    1. (a) those who have obtained an offer of employment in an authority's area and want temporary accommodation whilst they look for a permanent house or flat:
    2. (b) the homeless;
    3. (c) students in higher education.