§ Mr. Battle
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he has considered the National Federation of Housing Associations' proposal to allow housing associations to buy existing homes, and if he will make a statement. 
§ Mr. Clappison
Housing associations are already allowed to purchase existing homes with public resources provided through the Housing Corporation's approved development programme, if this is the best and most cost-effective way of meeting the priority housing needs in an area.
§ Mr. Battle
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will change his policy of increasing the level of housing association rents; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Mr. Curry
The housing White Paper, "Our Future Homes", noted the benefits of better targeting and higher outputs of social housing that have resulted from our policy of shifting the balance of subsidy away from rents and towards the individual in recent years. But the White Paper also acknowledged that a balance needs to be struck, and that we were reaching the limits of what could be achieved through higher rents.999W
In line with this policy, I announced on 26 September that the 1996–97 housing association grant rate would be maintained at this year's level of 58 per cent., to give tenants the benefit, in lower rents, of continuing reductions in development costs and greater cost efficiency by housing associations. The Housing Corporation estimates that rents on completed properties funded in 1996–97 will be £6 per week lower than rents being charged on new properties completed in this financial year, after allowing for inflation.