§ Mr. David Nicholson
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on the implementation of the Housing Act 1988.
§ Mr. Michael Spicer
The Housing Act 1988 laid the foundations for a revitalised independent rented sector and enabled an expansion of housing association activity using private finance. It gave public sector tenants new opportunities to choose their landlord or become home owners, and required local authorities to make annual reports to their tenants on their housing management performance. The main effects have been as follows:
- (a) there are clear indications of a revival of activity in the private rented market: some £480 million has so far been invested in rented property under the business expansion scheme, which should produce an additional 8,000 homes for letting;
- (b) new grant arrangements for housing associations were introduced in April 1989. Massive increases in public funding, together with the growing use of private loan finance, should come close to doubling the annual output of new housing association homes by 1992–93;
- (c) the introduction of tenants' choice has already had an important effect on local housing authorities' attitudes to, and readiness to communicate with, their tenants, and the Housing Corporation is helping many tenants' groups up and down the country to explore the new opportunities now available to them;
- (d) tenants of public sector housing designed or adapted for disabled people have been able to exercise the right to buy and tenants have made good use of a new sanction against reluctant or inefficient landlords who delay sales;
- (e) local authorities have used their new power to pay cash incentives to help existing tenants to buy homes of their own and so release vacancies for reletting to homeless families: 44 authorities had schemes approved in 1989–90, and in the current year 80 schemes have been approved with the potential to release 2,555 homes.