§ Mr. Brazier
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what plans he has to make changes to the private house renovation grant system; and if he will make a statement.
§ Sir George Young
I have placed in the Library copies of a consultation paper published today discussing the performance and effectiveness of present private house renewal programmes, including the renovation grant system, and outlining a variety of options for change. These include both changes that might be made in the short term, by adjustments to secondary legislation, and those that could be introduced longer term, subject to primary legislation.
The Government are keen that there should be a full public dialogue on how policies in this area should develop and, accordingly, the consultation paper has been given wide distribution with three months for comment.
I am also publishing today a preliminary report from the 1991 English house condition survey providing 6W information on the number of unfit dwellings in the English housing stock. Between 1986, the date of the last survey, and 1991 there has been a welcome decline in the number of unfit dwellings whether measured against the fitness standard in force in 1986 or against the new, higher standard introduced under the Local Government and Housing Act 1989. Under the old standard, 3.9 per cent. of dwellings—0.753 million—were unfit in 1991 compared with 4.8 per cent.—0.909 million—in 1986; under the new standard, 7.4 per cent. of dwellings—1.456 million—were unfit in 1991 compared with 8.8 per cent.—1.643 million—in 1986.
The report also reveals that most progress has been made in those sectors of the stock which have the highest proportions of unfit dwellings, namely pre-1991 housing and the private rented sector. It further shows that, under the new standard, over half of all unfit dwellings fail to meet only one requirement in the standard. Many of these may be remedied relatively easily.
We also plan to publish during the consultation period the first main report from the survey, which will give fuller information about the condition of the stock and household characteristics.