asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he is satisfied with the action of local authorities to reduce the numbers of empty dwellings in their possession.
No. The number of empty local authority dwellings has increased in recent years and dwellings are empty for too long between tenancies. The Audit Commission estimates that a reduction in the average re-letting period of 2½ weeks — by better management and the streamlining of re-letting procedures—should be readily achieveable and that an additional 20,000 lettings could be made.
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what further action he is taking to assist local authorities to meet the need for new homes and for the improvement of the housing stock.
My right hon. Friend will be discussing with the local authority associations shortly in the housing consultative council their views about their role in housing and the requirements for future expenditure.
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what steps his Department is taking to help improve the management of large public sector housing estates.
In addition to the assistance provided by the Department through its housing services advisory unit, its research programme and support for housing management education and training. The urban housing renewal unit and the priority estates project consultants are working with local authorities to introduce more effective estate-based management. The provisions in the Housing and Planning Bill will enable the Department to promote the delegation of housing management to a range of locally-based bodies, increased tenant participation and to provide further support for housing management education training and innovation.
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what is his Department's latest estimate of the shortfall between the demand and the supply of public rented accommodation to meet both general and special needs, which cannot be met by other means; and if he will give this information for England as a whole and for each regional area of his Department.
My Department does not make any overall estimates of this kind.