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Large Scale Voluntary Transfers

Volume 409: debated on Friday 18 July 2003

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To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many local authorities have implemented large scale voluntary housing transfers (LSVTs) since 1997; how many have been rejected by tenants; how many have put up proposals for large scale voluntary transfers; and how many have not yet registered their interest. [126421]

86 local authorities have completed 117 large scale voluntary transfers since 1 April 1997. During this period, tenants have not supported the transfer proposal in 23 ballots. There are 38 transfer schemes in progress. Housing transfer is one of three options available to authorities for meeting the decent home target where additional resources are required. By July 2005, all stock-owning authorities are required to have completed an investment option appraisal, with the full involvement of tenants, to decide on the best means of meeting the decent home target for their stock. These investment option appraisals must be signed off by the relevant Government Office for the Regions.

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister (1) how many applications for large scale voluntary transfers of council housing have been accepted by his Department; and what arrangements at what cost have been made in each case for write-off or reduction of overcharging housing debt; [126422](2) how much he estimates will be provided in

(a) this and (b) the next financial year (i) to write off overhanging housing debt for local authorities who privatise their housing stock and (ii) for council house repairs and renovations in those authorities in the same years. [126559]

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has accepted 268 applications for large-scale voluntary transfer of council housing since 1988. When an authority transfers all its housing stock it is expected to use the receipt to meet any debt liability. Of the 173 transfers that have taken place to date, there have been 10 transfers where the receipt was insufficient and the office made an overhanging debt payment. The payments are tabled as follows:

Financial yearLocal authority£ million
2001–02Blackburn with Darwen78.9
2002–03St. Helens87.2
2002–03Redcar and Cleveland25.4
The projected overhanging debt payments have reduced to £24 million for 2003–04 and are estimated at £500 million for 2004–05. These are likely to change as details of transfer proposals are finalised. These payments reflect the liability the office would have had to meet as ongoing Housing Revenue Account (HRA) subsidy if these authorities retained their stock. In respect of the authorities liable to require overhanging debt payments over the two years concerned, the total estimated provision for the Major Repairs Allowances (MRA) within the Housing Revenue Account subsidy is £124.2 million in 2003–04 and £122.3 million in 2004–05.

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what proposals he has for issuing to each tenant balloted in large scale voluntary housing transfers a statement of the benefits they will receive from a yes vote and the extra spending it will bring for repairs and improvements. [126423]

None. Local authorities are required by section 106, and schedule 3A to, the Housing Act 1985 to serve notice of the details of the transfer proposal, including the identity of the new landlord and the likely consequences of the disposal for the tenant, to all secure and introductory tenants.

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what sanctions are imposed on housing associations which do not fulfil promises made to tenants in large scale voluntary transfers of council housing; what redress is available to tenants in the event of such transfers; and how many complaints have been made to his Department about such purchases in the last five years. [126425]

The Housing Corporation is responsible for regulating all Registered Social Landlords (RSLs), commonly known as housing associations. RSLs are required to adhere to the Housing Corporation's

Price per dwelling, in large scale voluntary transfers since April 2001
AuthorityDate of transferPrice per dwelling (£)1
Derbyshire Dales4 March 20027,616
Chelmsford BC11 March 200211,530
East Hertfordshire DC (split transfer)18 March 200211,937
Erewash BC25 March 20026,460
Reigate and Banstead BC25 March 200213,212
St. Edmundsbury24 June 20027,489
Vale Royal BC1 July 20027,462
St. Helen's MBC1 July 20021,974
Redcar and Cleveland BC15 July 20025,180
Knowsley MBC15 July 20021,794
LB Waltham Forest30 September 2002832
LB Hackney cc sheltered stock14 October 2002-1,514
LB Harrow14 October 2002-3,642
Manchester cc Langley Estate18 November 2002-342
County of Herefordshire C25 November 20026,945
Carlisle CC9 December 20021,803
Rushcliffe BC20 January 200312,934
Liverpool CC Eastern Fringe (south)23 January 20031,800
Liverpool CC Eastern Fringe (central)30 January 2003-1,378
City of Bradford24 February 20032,831
Amber Valley BC24 February 20035,077
Crewe and Nantwich BC10 March 20036,181
Liverpool CC10 March 2003-728
Oldham MBC Limeside (Hollins/The Avsnues)17 March 2003-1,577
Walsall MBC (majority of stock)27 March 20031,026
Walsall MBC (tenant managed stock)27 March 2003-0.03
Craven DC31 March 20035,201
Forest of Dean DC31 March 20036,849
North Hertfordshire DC31 March 20033,128
1 Negative value figures indicate a dowry payment from the local authority to the acquiring registered social landlord.

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister whether consultants and tenants' friends employed on large scale voluntary transfer proposals for council housing are (a) approved, (b) nominated and (c) paid for by his Department; what steps he takes to ensure their impartiality; and whether any have recommended that the large scale voluntary transfer should not proceed. [126561]

Regulatory Code and guidance which sets out minimum standards in the three areas of governance, financial viability and management of services to tenant. It also has a number of general and specific powers to take action is respect of housing associations.

All housing associations registered with the Corporation must have procedures to deal with complaints from tenants fairly and effectively. Once tenants have been through this procedure, they can bring the matter to the attention of the Independent Housing Ombudsman. There is no formal procedure for complaints to be made to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister or investigated by it.

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how much was paid to each local authority per council house that has opted for large scale voluntary transfer of its council stock in each of the last two years. [126558]

To reflect the intended continued use of the properties for social housing the price paid to each local authority per council house accords with a Tenanted Market Value (TMV) rather than an open market value. Tabled are the price paid per dwelling in each large scale voluntary transfer since April 2001 in accordance with this valuation method.

Both consultants and tenant advisers are employed and paid for by the local authority. Office of the Deputy Prime Minister guidance is that they should be chosen through a competitive process. The role of the tenant adviser is to offer impartial advice and support to the tenants and leaseholders about the proposals being draw up. This is set out in guidance on the recruitment and role of the tenant adviser issued by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister.The nature of any work being undertaken by a consultant will depend on the nature of the contract with the local authority. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister would not necessarily know where a consultant had advised an authority.

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister (1) whether publicity polling and consultancy fees for voluntary transfers of council housing stock can be financed out of the local housing revenue account;[126565](2) what estimate he has made of the costs of publicity polling, publishing information, consultancy fees and preparation and polling processes for large scale voluntary transfer of council housing pools over the last 12 months; and how much of this has been paid for by

(a) local authorities and (b) central Government. [126568]

Expenditure incurred in carrying out the statutory consultation required under section 106A of the Housing Act 1985, including the cost of any ballot, is considered to be in connection with the management of dwellings held within the Housing Management Account and therefore must be charged to that account.No payment is made by central Government towards the cost of such consultation and figures for the total expenditure on this by local authorities are not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.