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Housing Improvement

Volume 892: debated on Friday 23 May 1975

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asked the Secretary of State for the Environment how he proposes to allocate the extra expenditure of £44 million which he has made available for the improvement and repair of local authority dwellings.

I am urgently reviewing cases of special difficulty which have been brought to my attention to decide how these additional funds might best be used. In addition to helping those authorities whose commitments, arising from contracts for house renovation let before 1st April 1975, were not adequately reflected in their original bids, I shall give priority to the improvement of sub-standard municipalised dwellings; to work needed to bring empty dwellings back into use; and to the initial provision of standard amenities in purpose-built stock. My officials are discussing with individual local authorities the various problems that have been brought to our attention, and my decision on each case will be notified to the authorities concerned shortly. Some £10 million is already being allocated on the basis of the priorities outlined above; the remainder will be allocated to certain authorities whose priority needs have been clearly established within the next few weeks.For the future, the study group I propose to set up, with the local authority associations, to look into municipalisation and rehabilitation programmes should help me to assess needs and priorities for 1976–77 and later years. It is the Government's intention progressively to shift resources away from the refurbishing of council dwellings already in acceptable condition to deal with the really worst housing, especially those dwellings bought from private owners in pursuance of the renewal policies inherent in the Housing Act 1974, that is, in housing action areas, priority neighbourhoods and general improvement areas.