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Mr. Pope: I am concerned about the Minister's argument about local authorities being hampered by people making unsolicited applications for home

15 Feb 1996 : Column 1242

improvement grants. No one wants to see a return to pepper-potting, which was a waste of public money. However, a mechanism must be put in place for people who live in terraces that are in an appalling state of disrepair but do not fall within the renewal area. I am all for targeting resources, but I hope that the Minister has something positive to say to thousands of my constituents who do not live in renewal areas but live in poor housing.

Mr. Clappison: The new system has been widely welcomed, and it will enable local authorities to act strategically. The Government propose to simplify the rules to the group repair schemes, which will allow the flexible implementation of them. The rules will also apply to flats. Local authorities will also be able to continue to give help for minor repairs, improvements and adaptations through home repair assistance to the elderly, infirm and those on means-tested benefits. That will simplify and replace the minor works assistance scheme.

The hon. Gentleman mentioned the competitive scheme in Hyndburn. However, he will be aware that £3 million has been allocated to Lancashire through that scheme. The Government propose a number of policies and programmes that will specifically be of assistance to his constituents and will deal within the constraints we all face with the problems he described. Local authorities will be able to act strategically and to help many private sector owners, particularly those who are poor or disabled, to meet the needs for repair that the hon. Gentleman has described.

Question put and agreed to.

15 Feb 1996 : Column 1241

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