HL Deb 22 March 1984 vol 449 c1463WA
Lord Hylton

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they are satisfied with the extent to which DHSS "special needs payments", local authority interest-only loans, and improvement and repair grants are reaching the poorer owner-occupiers, so as to enable them to continue living in their present houses: what was the estimated expenditure from these and related official sources on the houses of elderly owner-occupiers in the last period for which figures are available, and what is the estimated expenditure for 1984–85.

Lord Skelmersdale

Meeting the housing needs of the elderly is a central aim of Government policy. However, statistics are not collected in the precise forms requested. Much information about the housing of the elderly is contained in Parts 1 and 2 of the most recentEnglish House Condition Survey.

The Department of Health and Social Security's Annual Statistical Inquiry shows that in 1982 special needs payments totalling approximately £1.5 million were paid to recipients of supplementary benefit for help with the cost of essential repairs and internal redecorations. It is not possible to break this figure down to show payments in respect of work to the houses of elderly owner-occupiers. The results of the 1983 inquiry will be available soon, but no reliable estimate can be made of likely expenditure on special needs payments in 1984–85.

The Government encourage the use of interest-only loans, in appropriate circumstances, as a means of enabling elderly owner-occupiers to remain in their own homes, and there are a number of schemes in which local authorities are participating. But separate categorisation of expenditure on such loans is not available, nor can it readily be forecast.

The Government are conducting a general review of private sector housing improvement policy, one of the aims of which is to increase the simplicity of the system so as to improve take-up of grant and to direct assistance more efficiently to those most in need, among whom the elderly are prominent. Information about improvement grants to the elderly is not collected on a systematic basis. The level of such spending in 1984–85 will depend on the housing investment decisions of individual local authorities.