HC Deb 22 January 1998 vol 304 cc605-6W
Mr. Pond

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will carry out an assessment of the impact of his Department's current policies on the(a) income, (b) employment opportunities and (c) living standards, of the poorest 30 per cent. of the population. [23338]

Mr. Prescott

Many of my departments policies directly address the problems of the poorest 30 per cent. of the population. Examples include: social housing provision; many regeneration initiatives; the rough sleepers initiative; the Home Energy efficiency scheme; and measures to promote transport accessibility.

My department has an extensive research programme which evaluates the impact of these and other policies, and particular attention is placed on assessing whether policies are reaching disadvantaged people and deprived areas. For example, my department is undertaking an extensive evaluation of the SRB challenge fund which includes an assessment of how far funds have gone to deprived areas, and residents surveys to assess whether deprived people are benefiting from the initiative. We have also carried out extensive evaluations of the Rough Sleepers Initiative which have assessed the contribution of the different elements of the RSI to meeting the housing and support needs of people sleeping rough. Through the five yearly English House Conditions Survey we are also able to look at how the circumstances of the poorest households change over time.

More generally, we have commissioned a pilot study in three areas in order to trace how far public expenditure taken as a whole is being targeted on deprived areas where many of the poorest 30 per cent. of the population live.

Of course, I consider the implications for the poor and socially deprived in framing all my policies, whether this is a direct aim of those policies or not.