HC Deb 15 January 1996 vol 269 c381W
Sir Wyn Roberts

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will make a statement on the results of the Welsh consultation exercise undertaken on the Government's proposals for purchase grants for tenants of housing associations. [9720]

Mr. Hague

Following the publication of the housing White Paper "Our Future Homes", more than 160 copies of the consultation paper on purchase grants for housing association tenants were sent out to interested parties, and 28 responses were received.

I have also taken into consideration responses received to my consultation on the rural White Paper where these referred to the purchase grant.

I have carefully considered the views of many housing associations that future housing association grant-funded properties should not be subject to the new right to buy, but the Government continue to believe that tenants ought to have this new right, and provision for this will appear in the forthcoming Housing Bill.

I have, however, decided to make a number of changes to the scheme as originally proposed in the light of the responses received. These changes are: the exemption from the scheme of properties in certain rural areas, on which I propose to consult in due course; replacement properties need not be new build, but could be either rehabilitated or bought on the open market if this represents better value for money; in the statutory scheme, associations and other independent social landlords will not he required to sell properties where the outstanding private sector debt is greater than the market value; associations will be allowed to offer tenants other properties from their stock for which purchase grant will be available; housing association grant repayment may be waived on all receipts from sales to tenants on condition that they go into a ring-fenced fund to provide replacement properties; any future large scale voluntary transfer associations will be treated in the same way as other associations—they will not have to bear the burden of grant themselves, as originally proposed; in the voluntary scheme, participating associations will not be required to sell where the property was built entirely by private donation or funds, where properties are subject to restrictive legal covenants or agreements or where the costs of acquisition and improvement, but not repair, or the outstanding private loan debt on the property, are greater than the market value.

I have deposited a list of responses to the consultation paper in the Libraries of both Houses, and copies of individual responses are available through them.