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Improvement Grants

Volume 885: debated on Wednesday 29 January 1975

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asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will include thermal insulation improvement for improvement grant and in those cases in housing action areas where hardship grants are approved.

I would refer to the reply given to the hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. Steel) on 15th January.—[Vol. 884, c. 447–8]. My right hon. Friend has indicated, in Circular 160/74, that he is ready to give sympathetic consideration to applications for improvement grant in cases where elderly or disabled persons would have difficulty in meeting the whole of the cost of roof insulation themselves. In other cases of hardship local authorities may use their discretion to waive the requirement for roof insulation.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment which building organisations have made representations to him about the desirability of including thermal insulation improvements within the present improvement grant system.

The Federation of Master Builders and the Heating and Ventilating Research Association have written to my right hon. Friend on this subject.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what criteria he has adopted in fixing the present rateable value ceilings for house improvement grants.

One of the major purposes of the Housing Act 1974 is to redirect the distribution of house renovation grants so as to give greater help to those owners or residents most in need. Part of this reform consists of preventing, through the use of rateable value limits, improvement grants from being paid to those owner-occupiers who ought to be able to afford the cost of improving their homes without help from public funds. It is estimated that 15 per cent. of all improvement grants paid under the Housing Act 1969 fell within this category. The rateable value limits now adopted should, throughout the country as a whole, prevent that proportion of owner-occupiers from receiving such grants. The rateable value limitation does not apply to applications for intermediate grants, repairs grants or special grants, or to cases where the owner certifies that the dwellings concerned will be available for letting.