asked Her Majesty's Government:
What assessment they have made of the practicality of all government dwellings with fewer than four bedrooms due to be put on the market being offered for sale as part-owned and part-rented affordable housing; and whether they will make the necessary arrangements to do so. [HL5462]
The Government have encouraged departments to look creatively and flexibly at the options for making best use of their land and property assets. However, the framework for government departments selling their assets is set out in HM Treasury's Managing Public Money. Once land and property have been identified as surplus, irrespective of the size of the site or the number of bedrooms in existing dwellings, these must be recorded on the Register of Surplus Public Sector land. This is maintained by English Partnerships, the national regeneration agency, and disposals must be at market price. It is the responsibility of each department to ensure that it observes Treasury's guidelines on asset disposals.
We recognise the difficulties facing many families with regard to the current housing market and that is why my right honourable friend the Secretary of State announced on 2 September 2008 a number of measures the Government are taking forward to help alleviate the continuing challenges of the housing market. These measures are specifically aimed at assisting first time buyers, supporting vulnerable households facing repossessions and maintaining housing delivery especially through the affordable housing programme. This includes a new £300 million shared equity scheme through HomeBuy Direct which will enable many first time buyers currently frozen out of the mortgage market to get on the property ladder. The new Homes and Community Agency which will come into existence in December 2008 brings together the functions and activities of English Partnerships and the Housing Corporation. The new agency will keep under review what further opportunities can be explored in the provision of housing accommodation.