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Improvement Grants

Volume 973: debated on Wednesday 14 November 1979

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20.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment how many improvement grants were paid in 1978–79; how many are likely to be paid in 1979–80; and if he will make a statement on current levels of grants.

It is estimated that about 59,000 grants were paid in 1978–79 for the conversion, improvement and repair of private dwellings in England. I am unable to offer an estimate of the number which will be paid in the current financial year, but in the first six months of 1979–80 an estimated 32,300 grants were paid. This compares with 28,500 in the same period in 1978–79. We are keeping the eligible expense limits for grants under review.

In view of the disappointing number of applications for grants, is the Minister prepared to review the upper limits in housing action and general improvement areas, as well as considering environmental grants for upgrading the areas around people's homes in housing action areas?

We are keeping all these matters under review. Less than a quarter of all improvement grant applications approved relate to total eligible expenditure at or near the maximum.

If my hon. Friend wishes to make a further onslaught on increasing the number of improvement grants, will he consider going back to the original scheme, under which small builders were able to get improvement grants and then sell the houses on the open market?