HC Deb 29 January 2003 vol 398 cc888-9W
Mr. Clifton-Brown

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many empty homes his Department(a) had five years ago and (b) has now, by region; if he will establish an empty homes strategy within his Department; and if he will set a target for reduction in empty homes. [92915]

Mr. Lammy

The Department has no residential accommodation on the administrative estate, empty or otherwise.

Five years ago, the Department was in the process of disposing of the St. Charles Youth Treatment Centre, Brentwood, which included nine houses and eight flats that were empty. The site, including the housing, was eventually transferred to the Home Office for re-use within Government.

No information about residential accommodation owned by National Health Service trusts or primary care trusts in England is currently held that could answer this question, although a database of residential accommodation available for NHS staff in London has been built.

A survey of the NHS residential estate was last conducted in September 1998, which showed that there were 895 houses and flats vacant at that time. This was however a snapshot in time, and does not take account of units being held back for occupancy within a short time, as might be expected in a managed portfolio in periods of high staff turnover.

NHS Estates produced 'Sold on Health' (2000), which highlights opportunities to improve management of the NHS healthcare estate and new ways of driving out surplus estate and getting best value from the whole asset lifecycle.

The NHS housing initiative was established in April 2000 to tackle the problem of a lack of affordable accommodation for health workers on moderate incomes.

The NHS Plan announced, in July 2000, a target to deliver an additional 2,000 units of affordable accommodation for nurses in London by July 2003.

The initiative extends to cover the south east of England and other areas of high property prices throughout the country.