HC Deb 29 October 1998 vol 318 cc259-60W
Ms Oona King

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what provision he will make for management and maintenance spending on council housing in England for 1999–2000. [57736]

Ms Armstrong

Our proposals are set out in the draft Housing Revenue Account Subsidy and Item 8 determinations for 1999–2000, which we have sent to housing authorities today. Authorities have been invited to let my Department have their views by 4 December 1998.

We expect councils to use the extra resources for housing to give priority to urgently needed repairs. We therefore propose to calculate separate allowances for management and maintenance from next year, in place of the combined allowance used previously in the calculation of subsidy. This will enable us to target additional resources where they are most needed.

We are proposing that maintenance allowances for council houses in England will increase by £52 million next year. This is the first time in four years that maintenance allowances have gone up in real terms.

We want Councils to continue to seek increased efficiency in the management of their housing stock and we are, therefore, also proposing a continued freeze in provision for management of the housing stock.

These increases in maintenance allowances are in addition to the very significant £3.6 billion increases in provision for capital investment in local authority housing announced by the Deputy Prime Minister in July, following the Comprehensive Spending Review.

Our proposals for 1999–2000 anticipate the proposed move to resource accounting within the Housing Revenue Account. Resource accounting will put local authority housing on a more business-like footing, increasing transparency and enabling authorities to make better decisions about the use and maintenance of their housing assets. We expect to consult authorities later this year on detailed proposals for introducing resource accounting from April 2001.

Copies of the draft determinations have been placed in the House Library.