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Volume 471: debated on Friday 1 February 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) what her Department’s estimate is of the additional cost to the housing market renewal programme caused by speculative buying; and if she will make a statement; (166229)

(2) what steps she is taking to prevent speculative buying in housing market renewal areas as referred to in the National Audit Office report on housing market renewal.

The Department does not make such estimates, chiefly because it is difficult to define exactly what is speculation.

Pathfinders work closely with local residents and, where acquisition of property is necessary, encourage them to sell directly to the pathfinder rather than to third parties. As with other compulsory purchases, compensation arrangements also differentiate between owner occupiers and others, with those who can demonstrate residence for at least a year receiving a 10 per cent. home loss payment on top of the market value for the property, and landlords or investors receiving a 7.5 per cent. basic loss payment on top of market value.

While it is difficult, therefore, to be precise about the extent of speculative activity, the Government and pathfinders will continue to keep this under review, although it would clearly be inappropriate to curtail residents’ legitimate rights to sell.