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Housing (Elderly Persons)

Volume 82: debated on Wednesday 10 July 1985

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9.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment how many housing units built for the elderly were completed by local housing authorities in the years 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983 and 1984.

The latest figures of completions of local authority dwellings for the elderly are 10,300, 7,600, 7,600 and 8,500 in 1981 to 1984, respectively. Complete figures are not available for 1980.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that that is a terrible record and that the Government and particularly the Secretary of State ought to be ashamed of themselves? The Government regularly trip out the claim that they look after the elderly, yet in my constituency and, no doubt, throughout the country, elderly people are living in two-bedroomed houses or three-bedroomed houses which could be allocated to young married couples. Because the Government have cut back on finance, properties for the elderly are not being built. What does the Minister intend to do about that?

I hope that the hon. Gentleman will recognise that local authority renovations in 1984 added 5,200 to the figures which I have just given and that the number of housing association schemes has risen from 1,800 to 2,500. The figures indicate a rising trend, which I hope he welcomes.

Do not the figures announced by the Minister this afternoon represent a good record for pensioners? Do not the figures illustrate vividly that pensioners, in terms of pensions and living accommodation, are far better off under the Conservatives?

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his robust defence of Government policy. It is worth remembering that a growing number of pensioners are owner-occupiers and have a substantial equity in their own homes. They do not look to the local authority for accommodation in their retirement, but are happy to buy leaseholds on suitable accommodation provided by the private sector — a fact overlooked by the hon. Member for Ashfield (Mr. Haynes).