HC Deb 20 November 1997 vol 301 cc262-3W
Mr. Ernie Ross

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what plans he has to ensure that adequate housing is available for evacuees from Montserrat.[17519]

Mr. Chisholm

Local authorities need to be able to respond as flexibly as possible to the needs of Montserratians arriving under the Government's Montserrat Assisted Passage Scheme (MAP Scheme), which provides for voluntary evacuation.

We recognise that authorities will incur additional costs when bringing accommodation into use for Montserratian evacuees. We must do our best to ensure that evacuees coming to Scotland under the MAP Scheme are given as smooth and welcoming a reception as possible.

We are proposing to offer a special grant to encourage local authorities to make vacant property available more quickly to house evacuees who have chosen to come to Scotland under the MAP Scheme and who have nowhere to stay. The grant will also be payable to housing associations which offer accommodation. The special grant to local authorities would be provided for under section 108A of the Local Government Act 1992. Payments to housing associations would be made direct by Scottish Homes.

The Scottish Office Development Department has written today to local authorities, Scottish Homes, and the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations setting out details of the scheme and arrangements for making claims. Copies of the letter have been placed in the Library. Subject to approval of the House, grants will be made available for each unit of accommodation provided for qualifying households placed with local authorities or housing associations under the MAP Scheme between 27 August 1997 and 31 January 1998, at a rate of £500 or £1,500 depending on the costs involved. The grant scheme has been drawn up after consultation with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities.