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Home Improvement Agencies

Volume 489: debated on Friday 20 March 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment she has made of the effect of reductions in private sector housing renewal grants upon home improvement agencies; what representations she has received on this issue; and if she will make a statement. (265349)

£10.2 billion has been allocated by my Department for 2008-11 for regional housing capital programmes including those which address the condition of private sector housing stock. Of this almost £2 billion is for improvements and regeneration to the existing stock (both local authority owned and private sector). We have issued guidance to regional assemblies which asks them to continue to prioritise those most in need with the expectation that packages of assistance including grants, loans, and equity release schemes are made available to individual homeowners.

Local authorities return information annually through their Housing Strategy Statistical Appendix on the total number and value of grants and loans they provide for private sector renewal. This information is published for each authority and in aggregate form on the Department’s website. The Department does not collect information on income streams of home improvement agencies.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what plans she has to assist home improvement agencies facing budget difficulties; and what assessment she has made of the future role which may be played by such agencies. (265350)

Home improvement agencies (HIAs) are not funded directly by Communities and Local Government. However, there are a number of funding streams which are paid to local authorities which can be used to fund and deliver HIA services. CLG announced a three year allocation for Supporting People in December 2007 of £4.9 billion over period 2008-09 to 2010-11. This provides stability for service planning and delivery over this period. New handypersons funding of £33 million is available over 2009-10 to 2010-11 to build capacity in the sector.

The Disabled Facilities Grant provides a source of fee income for HIAs. The budget is £468 million over the three years 2008-09 to 2010-11.

In addition CLG sponsors the national body for HIAs (Foundations) to support the work of the agencies and service commissioners.

In autumn 2007 CLG commissioned Foundations to carry out research and produce a report on the options for the future delivery of HIA services. A summary report was published in September 2008.