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Housing (Stoke-on-Trent)

Volume 470: debated on Tuesday 15 January 2008

The Department does not make assessments of the demand for council housing. However, we encourage local authorities to assess the housing needs of their area as part of their strategic housing role. Stoke-on-Trent city council is working on such an assessment with neighbouring authorities in the west midlands region’s north housing market area. I understand that it will be published in the spring.

I thank my hon. Friend for that reply. However, in Stoke-on-Trent, the numbers on the council housing waiting list have increased from 2,000 in 2003 to 8,000 today. I welcome the Government’s investment in affordable housing, shared ownership and social housing, but will my hon. Friend reconsider what he can do to help local authorities build new council houses, including through access to the social housing grant?

I agree that local authorities have a vital role to play in delivering more social housing. On my hon. Friend’s point about social housing grant, she may be interested to hear that we have changed the process for awarding the grant to make it easier for high-performing councils, through local authority companies or special venture vehicles, to qualify and compete for it. We are also examining the potential to increase the number of new council houses by allowing councils to operate outside the housing revenue account subsidy system. I hope that she will be encouraged by that answer.