HC Deb 28 June 2001 vol 370 cc140-1W
Miss McIntosh

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what recent initiatives have been taken in order to provide affordable housing in rural areas; and if he will make a statement. [27]

Ms Keeble

Our proposals for increasing the supply of affordable housing in rural areas are set out in Chapter 5 of "Our countryside: the future—A fair deal for rural England", a White Paper (Cm 4909) published in November 2000. In summary, they are: doubling funding for the Housing Corporation between 2000 and 2003 to benefit both rural and urban areas; doubling the size of the Housing Corporation's programme in small rural settlements from 800 to 1,600 homes per year; local authorities to be able to charge the full rate of council tax on second homes and retain the extra revenue (subject to consultation); and a package of VAT reforms to encourage additional conversions of properties for residential use.

We have also reminded local authorities of existing powers to limit the resale of council homes, bought under the Right to Buy scheme, to local people. This can be done in rural areas that meet certain criteria.

Details of all these measures are set out more fully in the Rural White Paper.