HC Deb 28 November 1995 vol 267 cc598-9W
Mr. Sweeney

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales when he proposes to consult on his housing revenue account subsidy proposals for 1996–97 and what proposals he will be making. [3328]

Mr. Gwilym Jones

The Welsh Office is issuing proposals for consultation today. Local authorities and other consultees have been invited to let us have their views by 22 December 1995. I am arranging for copies of the proposals to be placed in the Library of the House.

We are proposing to keep guideline rents for 1996–97 at the same level in real terms as for 1995–96. This means an increase of £48 per dwelling per year, 92p per week for each authority. The flat rate increase is a transitional measure for the first year of the unitary authorities. We shall consult next year on the distribution of guideline rent increases between authorities in future years.

To encourage efficiency, we are also proposing a change in the subsidy rules which will limit rent rebate subsidy to the guideline rent increase. Authorities with rent below the guideline will be unaffected. The proposal does not affect tenants' entitlement to rent rebate.

For Wales total management and maintenance allowances will be around £175 million. This will allow broadly the same cash value of allowances per dwelling as in 1995–96. However, there will be increases for authorities furthest below the target level under a formula which takes account of relative stock condition. No authority will receive less than the equivalent of their 1995–96 allowance per dwelling and all authorities will achieve at least 97 per cent. of their targeted level in 1996–97.

Together, these proposals strike a reasonable balance between the need to constrain public expenditure and the need to ensure that housing is provided for tenants at reasonable cost.