HL Deb 16 December 1982 vol 437 cc842-3WA
Lord Gainford

asked Her Majesty's Government:

When they expect to publish the English House Condition Survey.

Lord Bellwin

The survey is being published today and copies have been placed in the Library of both Houses and in the Printed Paper Office. The results of the survey as they affect dwellings lacking amenities, dwellings that are unfit, and dwellings that are in substantial disrepair can be summarised as follows:

There has been a significant reduction in the number of dwellings lacking basic amenities from 2.8 million in 1971 to 1.5 million in 1976 to 0.9 million in 1981. The proportion of the dwellings in owner occupation that lack one or more basic amenities has fallen by over two-thirds from 11 per cent. in 1971 to 3 per cent. in 1981. A similar proportionate fall occurred in the private rented and local authority sectors. The greatest progress with respect to basic amenities has been made in the North.

The number of unfit dwellings has remained relatively constant at between 1.1 and 1.2 million. The Northern regions have seen a substantial improvement from the past high level; the South-East, including London, has seen a deterioration and the rest of the country some lesser improvement.

The number of dwellings with high repair costs (over £7,000 at 1981 prices) has increased between 1976 and 1981 following no discernible change between 1971 and 1976. In total the number of dwellings in serious disrepair increased by about 200,000 between 1976 and 1981 and represented an increase of 22 per cent. on the 1976 figure. Over the decade 1971–1981 the number of dwellings in serious disrepair decreased in the North of England by 9 per cent., increased in the South-East by 82 per cent. and increased in the rest of England by 16 per cent.

The Government have taken a number of steps to increase improvement grant activity. There is a very significant rise taking place in the number of improvement grants paid which, in the third quarter of this year, were the highest since 1974. To deal specifically with the problem of disrepair the Government have taken the following measures:

  1. (a) in the Housing Act 1980 extended repairs grants, previously only available to those in hardship in housing action areas and general improvement areas, to all houses built before 1919 in need of substantial and structural repair;
  2. (b) made 90 per cent. grants available for repairs for the whole of 1982–83 and 1983–84;
  3. (c) since October provided improvement grant funds without limit for the remainder of 1982–83;
  4. (d) provided authorities with an assurance of additional allocations for 1983–84 if their xpenditure on improvement grants is more than the indicative figure in their HIP allocation letter (normally their HIP bid plus 10 per cent.);
  5. (e) started the national enveloping scheme for all local authorities on 1st December.