HC Deb 01 July 2003 vol 408 cc261-3W
Mr. Pickles

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many special needs houses there are in England, broken down by(a) Parliamentary constituency, (b) local authority area and (c) region. [121816]

Keith Hill

Information on the number of accommodation-based services and associated household units for the people with physical or sensory disability and people with learning disabilities, at December 2002, funded through the Supporting People programme by County and unitary authority area and region is available on the Supporting People Web at http:www.spkweb.org.uk under General Documents and DiscussionV General Documents. December 2002 Supply data. December Supply Reporting Spreadsheet-Table 4.

Information at the parliamentary constituency level and the non-unitary local authority level is not held centrally and could only be provided at disproportionate cost.

Mr. Hancock

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister pursuant to his Answer of 20 June,Official Report, column 525W, on housing, what the timescale is for the consultation process; and if he will make a statement. [122031]

Keith Hill

The aim is as soon as possible.

Mr. Hancock

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister pursuant to his Answer of 20th June, Official Report, columns 524–25W, on housing, if he will commission research to(a) determine the current and future demand for social housing in the South-East and (b) devise a strategy that will ensure the demand is met; and if he will make a statement. [122032]

Keith Hill

Assessing the level of housing demand in the South East is the responsibility of the Regional Planning Body, in conjunction with the Regional Housing Board and other interested parties, and will be undertaken as part of the drafting of the next round of Regional Planning Guidance for the South East (RPG9). Wholescale reviews of RPG9 will commence later this year to produce a new Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS).

The Regional Assembly, together with the Government Office for the South East has commissioned work to provide a regional level methodology for assessing the level of households in need in anticipation of this review. The work is ongoing, and will provide one of the factors that will feed into the assessment of housing supply and demand in the South East to support the eventual Regional Spatial Strategy. Following public consultation and independent testing draft RSS9 will then be submitted to my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister.

The Sustainable Communities Plan, which was published by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister in February, sets out a programme of action which includes measures to address the imbalance between supply and demand in the South East and elsewhere, through increasing housing supply and making better use of existing housing stock.

Ms Oona King

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister pursuant to his Answer of 17 June 2003,Official Report, column 167W, if he will place in the Library a copy of the research into the health impacts of overcrowding on which policy decisions on tackling overcrowding are being based. [122325]

Keith Hill

The relevant research is reported in "Statistical Evidence to Support the Housing Health and Safety Rating System", published by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister in May. Two volumes of the document Volume 1: Project Report and Volume 2: Summary of Results—have been placed in the House of Commons Library and are available, together with previous research in support of the Housing Health and Safety Rating System, atwww.housing.odpm.Rov.uk/research/hhsrs/index.htm. Volume 2 provides an outline of the issues associated with all the hazards to be assessed under the system, including hazards related to crowding and space, and lists the key references on which estimates of health outcomes have been made for the purposes of the system. A third volume, the technical appendix, will be published shortly.

David Davis

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what data he has collected on abuses of right to buy. [122899]

Keith Hill

In 2002, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister commissioned Heriot-Watt University to examine the scale, nature and impact of the misuse of the Right to Buy policy by companies. The results were published in March 2003. The full report is available on the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's website at http:// www.housing.odpm.gov.u1c/information/rtb/index.htm; a summary is at http://www.housing.odpm.gov.uk/hrs/hrs177/index.htm.

The research found that some properties sold under the Right to Buy scheme had been acquired by companies offering tenants financial help to buy their homes on condition that they resold them to the company after the three-year discount repayment period had ended (deferred resale' arrangements). Both tenant and company thereby evade the statutory requirement, in place since 1980, to repay discount where a property is resold within three years of being sold under the Right to Buy scheme, and the companies acquire former social homes at substantially less than their market value in order to rent them out. This means that homes formerly available at subsidised social rents then command substantially higher market rents, reducing the availability of affordable housing.

Such exploitation is prevalent in Inner London, where the report estimated that at least 2,000 properties had been acquired in this way by companies since 1998. It also noted that at least one such company was advertising nationally.

Mr. Austin Mitchell

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister whether arms length management organisations are treated in the same way as housing associations for the puposes of(a) housing benefit and (b) borrowing; and what plans he has to allow ALMOs to raise loans in their stock. [123000]

Keith Hill

Tenants of dwellings managed by Arms Length Management Organisations (ALMOs) remain tenants of the local authority and are treated in the same way as other local authority tenants for housing benefit purposes. As announced in the Sustainable Communities Plan in February, we intend to consult further on the financial regime that should be available to the highest performing ALMOs.