HL Deb 18 March 2003 vol 646 cc19-20WA
Baroness Thornton

asked Her Majesty's Government:

When the task force to examine all programmes to support sustainable home ownership as announced in Sustainable Communities: building for the future will meet. [HL2175]

The Minister of State, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (Lord Rooker)

The Home Ownership Task Force, which my noble friend Lord Bassam announced to the House on 5 February, will meet for the first time today, chaired by my noble friend Lady Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde. It will consider schemes currently available to potential homeowners on low or modest incomes and identify the most effective ways of promoting home ownership.

The terms of reference for the task force are as follows:

Sustainable Communities: building for the future marks a step-change in housing. Resources have been increased substantially to deliver sustainable communities but more needs to be done to help tenants and those on waiting lists to move into home ownership, without the loss of social housing. New ideas and a new approach are vital in helping people on low or modest incomes into home ownership.

The task force is to examine the routes and methods by which those in housing need can be helped to meet their home ownership aspirations in a way that ensures the sustainability of that ownership and is cost-effective. It will examine who is being helped through current initiatives, to what extent those initiatives free up social tenancies for other occupants and the scope for better targeting and design. It will also take account of the work being undertaken by government departments and others to review issues in relation to existing homeowners.

The task force will develop a more rational and straightforward suite of programmes to allow social tenants and those on waiting lists to purchase either their own home or another home, while recognising the many different circumstances of aspiring home owners.

The task force will build on Evaluation of the low cost home ownership programme and other recent ODPM research, consider a wide range of innovative funding proposals and take into account proposals on single tenure, commonhold, flexible tenure, equity shares and new forms of public and private low-cost home ownership schemes.

Throughout its work the task force will take into account the difficulties faced by traditionally disadvantaged groups such as disabled people and BME communities in accessing home ownership and look at the different problems faced by people wishing to access home ownership in areas of low demand and the growth areas.

The existing programmes that will be considered are right to buy; rent to mortgage; right to acquire; cash incentive scheme; voluntary purchase grant; shared ownership; do-it-yourself shared ownership; homebuy; and self build.

The task force will report with recommendations on how the above home ownership objectives can be most effectively delivered.

The Home Ownership Task Force is due to report in the autumn.

We are also publishing today the report, Equity Shares for Social Housing, in fulfilment of our 2001 manifesto commitment to consider equity shares. Equity shares are one way to deliver our objectives to promote home ownership, increase asset ownership and improve the image of social housing. The report concludes that the costs of introducing equity shares are likely to be substantial, while the scale of benefits is highly uncertain. We will continue to keep this issue under review.