§ Baroness Pitkeathley
asked Her Majesty's Government:
How the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions, the Home Office and the Ministry of Defence performed against last year's targets for reducing empty government homes; and what new targets have been set for 1998–99. [HL3036]
§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Baroness Hayman)
Details of achievement against targets for 1997–98, and new targets for 1998–99 are below.
We are disappointed to have to report that despite considerable effort on the part of the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR), the Ministry of Defence and the Home Office the overall
Table to show Annual Targets for 1998–99 and Performance Figures for 1997–98 for the Disposal of Government Empty Homes Total stock at 1.4.98 Total empty stock at 1.4.97 Total empty stock at 1.4.98 Target for % empty at 1.4.98 Achievement against target Target for % empty at 1.4.99 Target for % habitable homes empty more than 6 months at 1.4.98 Achievement against target Target for % habitable homes empty for more than 6 months at 1.4.99 Action being taken to dispose of homes empty more than 6 months Home Office 3,189 268 217 ‹5% 6.8% ‹5% ‹1% 1.2% (37) ‹1% 26 Prison Quarters properties retained on security grounds and for chaplains; 5 on the market; 2 have serious repair problems; 1 now available following police operation; 1 adjoins an operational police office; 1 is to be offered to a housing association for short-term let; and 1 is in need of renovation. Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions 2,473 690 692 ‹18% 28% ‹18% ‹9% 10.5% (262) ‹7% 203 properties either in process of being marketed for sales or sales agreed and proceeding towards completion; 3 due for auction, 7 sales deferred to assess development potential; and 49 being let through managing agents. Ministry of Defence 64,238 13,142 13,225 To dispose of 1,000 empty homes 1,562 To dispose of 1,200 empty homes
1. Properties that are "habitable" include all properties except:
- (a) derelict properties that await demolition (e.g. to make way for road schemes);
- (b) those that are expected to be demolished in the near future where the expenditure required to make them habitable would be disproportionate to their expected life (e.g. where substantial investment would be required to connect essential services such as water, sewage or electricity);
- (c) those that cannot be made accessible (e.g. due to adjacent construction works).
number of empty homes held by the Government has shown a small rise between 1 April 1997 and 1 April 1998. This does however mask a 19 per cent. fall in the number of empty homes held by the Home Office and the success of the Ministry of Defence in exceeding its target over the period. Both the DETR and the Ministry of Defence have faced difficulties in responding to need with uncertainties over the Strategic Defence Review and the ongoing review of road schemes. In the case of the Highways Agency up to 50 per cent. of its vacant properties were in the process of being sold when the figures were collected.
We are concerned by the number of properties that remain vacant—we simply cannot afford to have substantial numbers of Government-owned homes lying empty and we will be working closely with colleagues to ensure that the targets set for the next year are met. These targets for 1 April 1999 all represent a significant improvement over last year's achievements and reflect realistic opportunities for reducing the numbers of vacant properties.
Departments continue to liaise with the Empty Homes Agency and other interested parties to investigate ways of bringing properties back into productive housing use and we hope next year's figures will reflect our continued efforts to improve the Government's own record.