HC Deb 23 July 1997 vol 298 cc634-5W
Mr. Öpik

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will make a statement on his policies to improve the availability and standard of housing in Wales. [8932]

Mr. Win Griffiths

Our capital receipts initiative will enable local authorities to make further improvements in the public and private stock and to assist the provision of extra social housing in partnership with registered social landlords. We have announced that a total of £43 million is to be made available under the initiative in 1997–98 to 1998–99.

In line with our manifesto, we shall support effective schemes which involve private finance to improve the public housing stock and introduce greater diversity and choice. In particular, local authorities are encouraged to consider stock transfer to local housing companies or other registered social landlords in consultation with tenants, where approval for such transfer will be essential.

I have set up a working group to look at ways of helping local authorities to carry out assessments of housing need on a standard basis so that they can identify and tackle the real priorities. We shall complete the Welsh house condition survey next year to assist the targeting of investment in the housing stock.

I have asked Tai Cymru to increase the number of new homes it will start this financial year to at least 2,000. I am reviewing planned provision in future years.

The quality of the environment is a major theme in our manifesto and housing has an important part to play through energy efficiency. We shall be considering practical measures for improving energy efficiency in housing based on reports that we require authorities to submit by 30 November 1997.

We want to ensure that local authorities provide high quality and cost-effective housing services. We are taking forward our commitment to place a new duty on local authorities to achieve best value. This will provide authorities with the demanding challenge of continuous improvement in service costs and quality.