HC Deb 10 July 2003 vol 408 cc994-5W
Mr. Pickles

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what plans he has to increase the number of special needs houses in England; and if he will make a statement. [121817]

Keith Hill

Local housing authorities have a responsibility to produce a housing strategy which sets out plans to address the range of housing needs in their area. This includes all groups with special needs where the strategy must link into the provision of associated support services. Decisions on how these should be addressed are taken locally on the basis of the assessment of the nature and scale of the different housing needs.

The Housing Corporation through the Approved Development Programme (ADP) provides specially adapted housing and support for the disabled. The Housing Corporation through its National Investment Strategy sets out the priorities against which registered social landlords should bid for resources for the ADP. Included in these priorities are supported housing for people with disabilities. Funding for the ADP has risen to £1.5 billion in 2003–04, £500 million more than in 2002–03.

Local housing authorities have a statutory duty to offer Disabled Facilities Grants (DFGs) to all eligible applicants who require adaptations to help them live independently in their own homes. The grant is available to disabled homeowners and tenants in both the private and social rented sector, and is subject to a means test. The Government meet 60 per cent. of the total local authority expenditure incurred on DFGs through tile payment of specified capital grant. The budget for this grant for English authorities in 2003–04 is £99 million compared with £56 million in 1997–98, an increase of more than 75 per cent.

In addition, the Supporting People programme provides a strategic framework for commissioning and funding the support services that people need to help them to live independently in their accommodation. Local authorities (county councils in the case of two tier administrations) will be developing Supporting People strategies setting out how they will meet the needs of people in their areas for housing-related support over the next five years. These will consider the needs of all client groups, including people with physical and sensory disabilities, and learning disabilities.