HC Deb 20 July 1999 vol 335 cc479-80W
Mr. Gordon Prentice

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what estimate he has made of the number of homes in England that have been abandoned by their owners; and if he will make a statement. [91401]

Mr. Raynsford

This information is not collected centrally; however, the Government are committed to sustainable home ownership. Everyone with a mortgage or applying for a mortgage should consider carefully how they would cope if they experienced a drop in income. We are working with the mortgage lending and insurance industries to bring about better mortgage payment protection insurance, and encouraging lenders to provide more mortgages with flexible repayment arrangements.

We expect local authorities in their housing strategies, to take into account any problems of abandonment in their area, particularly in areas of low demand, where there may be a surplus of housing.

As part of the work of Social Exclusion Unit's report on neighbourhood renewal, a Policy Action Team was set up to look at the scale and spread of the problems of low demand and unpopular housing. Their work is being informed by a large scale research project commissioned by DETR in order to identify the causes and strategies for tackling low demand. The Policy Action Team will be reporting later this year.