Select Committee on Office of the Deputy Prime Minister: Housing, Planning, Local Government and the Regions Minutes of Evidence


Examination of Witnesses(Questions 280-284)

MR JIM COULTER, MR JOHN PERRY AND MR ROBIN TETLOW

TUESDAY 22 OCTOBER 2002

Chairman

  280. It has been looked at now for a couple of years. Is it not time they reached a conclusion?
  (Mr Perry) It is being looked at at the moment as part of the PSA plus review of achievement of the Decent Homes standard. I suspect that soon we will get some conclusion.

Mr Cummings

  281. Have you been consulted by the Department on this specific issue?
  (Mr Perry) Yes.

Chris Mole

  282. One of the issues is that some of these charges might not necessarily be covered by housing benefit. Do the changes announced last week to those arrangements suggest any new issues or problems?
  (Mr Perry) This area will remain a difficulty for housing benefit because some parts of service charges will not be covered by housing benefit, others will be covered if they are genuine support charges by the new Supporting People arrangements. The difficulty might be charges that fall in the gap between the two.

Chairman

  283. We are running out of time. Do you want to say anything briefly about the Housing Market Renewal Fund?
  (Mr Coulter) We are looking forward to it! As you know from your previous inquiry, you received a lot of evidence from us (the Chartered Institute) and others about the importance of tackling the worst extremes of market decay, and we are very keen to ensure there is a balance between the debates about the south of the country and the housing market decline in parts of the North and Midlands. We are very specifically keen to ensure that there is as much freedom as possible for the Pathfinder areas and others—it is not only Pathfinder areas that have the phenomenon of low demand, they represent about half the stock the Department itself estimate—to be able to experiment and to make sure that what they do through the partnership boards being established is connected across the other regeneration schemes for which government is responsible through different routes, whether regional development agencies in the case of single budget or the individual local authorities in th neighbourhood and other renewal schemes.

  284. Do you think we can solve these housing problems—acute shortages in some parts of the country and surplus housing in others—just in housing terms or really has it got to be much more effective regional development and possibly much more effort to direct people to those areas of the country where there is surplus housing?
  (Mr Perry) We do want to see a move in that direction. I was interested to hear your previous witnesses because I think we do want to see some control of development in the South East and more incentives to move to more deprived regions. In housing terms I do not think we are going to crack this problem without bigger economic opportunities in the North West and North East where these low demand areas are concentrated.

  Chairman: On that note, thank you very much for your evidence.





 
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