§ 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 Tower Hamlets 307 Westminster 329 Waltham 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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:
- (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:
- (b) the homeless;
- (c) students in higher education.