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Housing

Volume 450: debated on Tuesday 24 October 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will revise the Standard Assessment Procedure for the Energy Rating of Dwellings 2005 so that fuel costs used to assess Energy Ratings are based upon the latest available average of energy prices. (93586)

I have been asked to reply.

Energy prices are used to determine the Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP) rating, which is a measure of a dwelling's energy efficiency. SAP ratings are used to compare the energy performance of dwellings, so it is important that they are produced on a consistent basis.

The fuel price data used in SAP are derived from information produced at six-monthly intervals, so the latest available energy prices are used to determine the rating. The data are collected on a regional basis and weighted according to the population of the region. The price of each fuel is then averaged over a three-year period. This helps to smooth the effect of short-term price fluctuations but permits longer-term price trends to influence the rating. Prices are updated when a new edition of SAP is prepared, but a deflator is used to adjust for general fuel price inflation. Therefore, increases in the price of all fuels will have no effect on the SAP rating following a recalculation of prices and the deflator term, although slight differences can occur if the price increases differ for different fuels.

If we simply used the raw, latest available, averaged prices then we would have no basis on which to compare the energy efficiency of dwellings. The SAP rating, even for the same dwelling, would fluctuate according to the fuel price on the day of the assessment. This would not be sensible, so I do not propose to change the basis on which the SAP rating is calculated.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many stakeholder discussion meetings which members of the public and social tenants could attend her Department organised on the Decent Homes to Sustainable Communities paper. (94631)

Of the four regional events, held on the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) discussion paper, three included tenant representation. There have also been three separate tenant discussion groups organised for DCLG by the Tenant Participation Advisory Service (TPAS) and DCLG held a discussion with tenants in Cambridge.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much equity (a) her Department and (b) housing associations hold in shared equity affordable housing schemes introduced since 1997; and if she will make a statement. (94761)

The Department for Communities and Local Government does not hold any shared equity in affordable housing schemes.

As at 31 March 2006 Registered Social Landlord’s (RSL) owned over 85,600 shared ownership/HomeBuy units. Where RSLs specialise in shared equity schemes only they have shown in their accounts that they have fixed assets of over £1.7 billion. These RSLs represent around one third of the total RSLs that are providing shared ownership/HomeBuy units. Other RSLs do not distinguish between shared ownership and other forms of equity.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many new domestic dwellings were created in England in the last 12 months; and how many of those new domestic dwellings were (a) flats and (b) leasehold properties. (95896)

In 2005-06 there were 163,273 new build completions in England. It is estimated that 46 per cent. of these were flats. Information on the number of new build leasehold dwellings is not available centrally.

Source:

Figures for total completions is from the P2 return to DCLG and National House Building Council data; Information on the proportion of flats is from the NHBC data.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what estimate she has made of the number of abandoned properties in each of the housing low demand pathfinder areas in England. (96172)

We do not hold information on the number of abandoned properties in pathfinder areas. However the following table lists pathfinders' estimates of the number and percentage of long-term vacant properties (those that have been vacant for more than six months) in each of their areas.

Pathfinder

Estimated number1 of long-term vacant properties in pathfinder intervention area

Estimated percentage1 of long-term vacant properties in pathfinder area

Birmingham Sandwell

2,895

5.1

East Lancashire

5,459

6.3

Hull and East Riding

3,624

3.2

Manchester Salford

6,222

5.1

Merseyside

8,030

6.1

Newcastle Gateshead

3,665

4.7

North Staffordshire

2,802

4.1

Oldham Rochdale

3,029

4.1

South Yorkshire

1,628

1 .2

1 At 31 March 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment she has made of trends in house prices in each of the housing low demand pathfinder areas in England over the last two years; and if she will make a statement. (96173)

The following table shows changes in lower quartile house prices in each of the market renewal pathfinder areas between the second quarters of 2004 and 2006.

House prices have risen significantly over this period in all of the pathfinder areas, however those areas of persistent low demand have seen a lower rate of increase than the rest of the region. Pathfinders have been required to reassess the progress to ensure they are responding to changing market conditions.

Lower quartile price Q2 2004 (£)

Lower quartile price Q2 2006 (£)

Percentage change over the period

Proportion of regional average at Q2 2006 (Percentage)

West Midlands

91,500

109,000

19.0

Birmingham Sandwell

71,125

86,000

21.0

79.0

North Staffs

42,500

60,000

41.0

55.0

North East

62,500

83,000

33.0

Newcastle Gateshead

52,000

73,375

41.0

88.0

North West

70,000

90,000

29.0

Manchester Salford

32,000

69,000

116.0

77.0

Oldham Rochdale

38,613

62,000

61.0

69.0

East Lanes

23,000

46,000

100.0

51.0

Merseyside

40,514

60,000

48.0

67.0

Yorkshire and Humber

75,000

93,000

24.0

Hull and East Riding

36,283

56,975

57.0

61.0

South Yorks

48,000

66,775

39.0

72.0