HC Deb 31 July 1997 vol 299 cc541-2W
Mr. Bercow

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what assessment he has made of the accuracy of the previous Government's projections for the number of new homes required by 2011; and if he will make a statement. [11595]

Mr. Raynsford

The most recent household projections have been subject to considerable public scrutiny since their publication in March 1995, in particular by the Environment Select Committee in evidence for its report on housing need in 1996. I am satisfied that they were the best that could be made with the available data and that they accurately reflect recent trends.

While generally endorsing the projections, the Committee recommended that the Department continue to examine the extent to which household formation is affected by economic and social factors. This is currently being addressed by the department of applied economics, Cambridge university, as part of a wider research project for the Department on the modelling of the need for social housing. The project has been extended beyond its original completion date and should now be finalised by the autumn.

Last year, the Department also commissioned Heriot-Watt university to undertake a detailed literature review on household formation, with particular emphasis on evaluating the available evidence on the extent to which economic factors affect the propensity for new households to form. This work has recently been completed and the report will be released on Monday, 4 August. Copies will be placed in the House Libraries.