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Housing Investment Programmes

Volume 929: debated on Thursday 7 April 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for the Environment when he expects to issue the circular giving details of his plans to allow local housing authorities greater flexibility in determining their own priorities by means of the block allocations referred to in his answer to the Question by the hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington (Mr. Sandelson) on 4th March.

I expect the circular to be issued very shortly after Easter. Under the new arrangements which I am introducing local authorities will in 1977–78 have much greater flexibility in deciding what capital expenditure on housing to undertake within their overall capital allocations.For the purpose of these arrangements there will be four capital expenditure groups; housebuilding; acquisition of houses, improvement to local authority houses, and slum clearance; grants for improvement and loans for house purchase and improvements to private persons; and loans to housing associations. Within a group local authorities will be able to switch expenditure from one type of activity to another to meet local needs. In addition, local authorities will be able to switch a proportion of expenditure from one group to another; the maximum movement allowed will be 25 per cent. in or out of each group. Individual authorities will also be able to carry forward an underspend to the following year, or anticipate the following year's expenditure, within certain limits.I am confident that local authorities will welcome these new arrangements as a very substantial step forward in enabling them to respond more sensitively to local housing needs.