asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if she will consider providing a house repairs grant for those people in receipt of supplementary benefit, invalidity pension or retirement pension.
No, Sir. Any extension of the house repairs provisions of the Housing Act 1974 would in any case be a matter for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment.As my hon. Friend is aware, owner-occupiers receiving supplementary benefit have an allowance towards house repairs and insurance included in the calculation of their entitlement. If this does not meet the cost of necessary repairs, a lump sum payment may be made. For the more expensive repairs, a maturity loan be sought from the local council and the commission would normally meet the interest charges on that.
Is my hon. Friend aware that the assistance he has described is rarely if ever available and that many owner-occupiers, particularly those in older terraced property, find great difficulty at times when they need money to carry out essential maintenance and repairs? Will he given an assurance that he will circulate all local departmental offices with details of the grants he has outlined, with the requirement that they should be made available on a much wide basis than hitherto?
The Department has no evidence that these grants are not made available or that few people have knowledge of them, but I shall bear in mind my hon. Friend's suggestion.
How many people are living on supplementary benefit and in sub-standard houses requiring urgent repair?
We have no estimate of that figure at present.