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Housing

Volume 450: debated on Wednesday 25 October 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment she has made of the effect on private sector tenants who find it difficult financially to take on local authority accommodation in cases when councils have been successful in meeting the Government’s void times targets. (92386)

Best value performance indicator (BVPI) BV212 measures the average time taken to re-let local authority housing. BV212 does not differentiate according to the type of tenure the person was in prior to the letting, nor does it look at the effect a local authority let has on the financial circumstances of the a tenant who was previously housed in the private rented sector. Targets set against BV212 are determined by individual local authorities themselves and not by the Government.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government when Professor John Hills is due to report on his review of social housing. (94564)

Professor Hills is due to present the findings of his assessment of social housing to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State in December 2006.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what her estimate is of the number of (a) housing associations, (b) local authorities with council-run social housing and (c) local authorities with social housing run through arm’s-length management organisations in England. (94571)

On 1 October 2006 there were nearly 2,000 housing associations; there were 108 local authorities who had opted directly to manage all their social housing and there were 53 local authorities with social housing run through arm’s-length management. There were a further 52 who had opted to either transfer their homes to a housing association or set up an ALMO but they have yet to complete the process and so are currently managing some or all of their stock directly. Some local authorities have more than one management structure for their social housing.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many people were classified as (a) homeless and (b) unsuitably housed in each year since 1997, broken down by local authority area. (95454)

Information about local authorities' actions under homelessness legislation is collected in respect of households rather than persons. The number of households accepted by local authorities in England as eligible for assistance, unintentionally homeless and in priority need, and consequently owed the main homelessness duty, in each year since 1997-98; and the number of households in temporary accommodation arranged by the authority under homelessness legislation as at 31 March of each year, are in the following table. From 1998, information has also been collected on the number of people who sleep rough—that is, those who are literally roofless on a single night—and these are presented in the tables.

Households accepted1 as owed a main duty during the year

Households in temporary accommodation2 at end of year (31 March)

1997-98

102,430

47,520

1998-99

104,260

56,580

1999-00

105,580

65,170

2000-01

114,670

75,200

2001-02

116,660

80,210

2002-03

128,540

89,040

2003-04

135,430

97,680

2004-05

120,860

101,070

2005-06

93,980

96,370

1 Households eligible under homelessness legislation, found to be unintentionally homeless and in a priority need category, and consequently owed a main homelessness duty. 2 Households in accommodation either pending a decision on their homelessness application or awaiting allocation of a settled home following acceptance. Excludes those households designated as "homeless at home" that have remained in their existing accommodation and have the same rights to suitable alternative accommodation as those in accommodation arranged by the authority. 3 Mid-year estimates Source: DCLG P1E Homelessness returns (quarterly); and Housing Strategy Statistical Appendix (annual) (for Rough Sleepers data)

Rough Sleepers1 (number of persons) June

1998

1,850

1999

1,633

2000

1,180

2001

703

2002

596

2003

504

2004

508

2005

459

2006

502

1 Mid-year estimates.

Data on acceptances and households in temporary accommodation for each local authority area since 1997-98, and rough sleeper figures back to 1998, have already been placed in the Library this month (PQ 8631 the hon. Member for Romford (Mr. Rosindell)).

There is no general definition of 'unsuitable' housing. The available estimates for the number of unfit homes (as defined by Section 604 of the 1989 Local Government and Housing Act) are provided in the following table.

Number of unfit homes in England, 1991 to 2004

Number (thousand)

Percentage of all homes

1991

1,498

7.6

1996

1,522

7.5

2001

902

4.3

2003

1,005

4.7

2004

985

4.6

Note: 1. Unfit homes are those which fail the statutory minimum standard as defined by the Fitness Standard. From 2006 figures will be based on the Housing Health and Safety Rating System which replaced the Fitness Standard following the 2004 Housing Act. Source: DCLG : English House Condition Surveys

Each local authority makes its own independent assessment of unfitness which it reports in its annual Housing Strategy Statistical Appendix. These figures are also published by my Department and are available on the DCLG website from 2001-02 at the following address:

http://www.communities.gov.uk/index.asp?id=1156544

For methodological reasons the figures from the English House Condition Survey are used as the most reliable national estimate of the overall scale of unfitness and indicator of any trend.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many empty properties there have been in each local authority area in Suffolk in each year since 1997. (95455)

For the number of empty properties in each local authority in Suffolk in each year since 1997 I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to the hon. Member for North Cornwall (Mr. Rogerson) on 25 July 2006, Official Report, column 1604W.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what plans she has to increase funding to social housing enablers. (96857)

I have been asked to reply.

Rural housing enablers (RHEs) work with rural communities, local authorities, landowners, and housing associations to help identify rural housing needs and find appropriate solutions. There are currently 40 RHEs in post, supported by funding from local authorities, housing associations and Defra. They act independently of any single organisation, usually located in the offices of the county rural community council, while some sit within the offices of the local authority. Defra has committed funding to support RHEs through the rural social and community programme, this is fixed until March 2008.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) what the timetable is for additional secondary legislation to be introduced or amended in relation to the Housing Act 2004; (95826)

(2) what provisions in the Housing Act 2004 remain to be implemented; and what the timetable is for their implementation.

The information requested is in the following table.

Housing Act 2004: Timetable for implementation and regulations

Provision/Part

Proposed timetable for implementation and regulations

Parts 2, 3, 4 and 7—HMO and Selective Licensing

Regulations relating to section 257 HMOs and Rent Repayment Orders will be laid later in 2006

Part 5—Home Information Packs

Amendments in respect of The Home Information Pack Regulations will be laid in early 2007

Part 6—Tenant Deposit Protection

Regulations relating to Tenancy Deposit Protection schemes will be laid in early 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether teachers working in the independent sector are eligible to obtain key worker housing. (94250)

No, the key worker living programme is for public sector workers only. Teachers employed in state maintained nursery (early years) primary or secondary schools and some further education institutes are eligible to apply for assistance.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how long homes built under the key worker living initiative have to remain empty before alternative uses can be found. (94812)

Each scheme is dealt with on an individual basis taking into account the marketing activities of the registered social landlord and local market demand and supply. There is flexibility which allows for changes to tenure and widening of the eligibility criteria where local evidence demonstrates that this is needed and where no added grant is required. Scheme review will be triggered only where units have been empty for at least three months.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether (a) discretionary and (b) mandatory houses of multiple occupation licensing applies to (i) hotels, (ii) bed and breakfast establishments and (iii) hostels. (94815)

Discretionary or mandatory licensing of houses in multiple occupation (HMO) may apply to (i) hotels, (ii) bed and breakfasts and (iii) hostels if the individual establishments (a) fall within the definition of an HMO and (b) either is a category of HMO to which a discretionary scheme applies or is one that meets the criteria for mandatory licensing.