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Housing Stock

Volume 409: debated on Friday 18 July 2003

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To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what representations he has received on (a) improving poor housing stock and (b) tackling problems of empty homes through financial grants; and if he will make a statement. [126245]

The Regulatory Reform (Housing Assistance) (England and Wales) Order 2002, which took effect on 18 July 2002, gave local authorities new and wide ranging powers to provide financial assistance, including by way of grant, for these purposes. The Government consulted a wide range of stakeholders before introducing these new powers and there was overwhelming support for these changes.

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what research he has commissioned to examine whether financial assistance would help to tackle poor housing stock and empty homes in the Pathfinder housing renewal areas; and if he will make a statement. [126246]

Identification of the nine market renewal pathfinder areas and the policy approach on low demand and abandonment set out in "Sustainable Communities: Building for the Future" has been underpinned by a range of data available to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, in particular Housing Investment Programme data and other published evidence including regional and local level data published by CURS at the University of Birmingham on changing demand.A key remit of the pathfinders is to restructure the housing markets in areas so that they are returned to places where people want to live and stay. We are clear that this is not something that can be left to the market alone to resolve. That route offers a prospect of years of neglect that will endanger economic resurgence and cause untold suffering for the communities affected. Turning round these areas will require long-term commitment. We have already signalled the Government's commitment through the creation of a £500 million market renewal fund for investment in the pathfinder areas over the next three years. Tackling poor housing stock and empty homes will be a crucial part of the pathfinders work.