Local Government Finance (Supplementary Credit Approvals) Bill — Duty of Secretary of State to have regard to accessibility standards — 8 Jul 1997
As amended (in the Standing Committee), considered.
I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.
The new clause would put some restrictions on the expenditure of moneys drawn down from the supplementary credit approvals. We believe that it presents an excellent opportunity to address the serious problem of the lack of accessible housing for disabled people. That problem has existed for many years.
According to the Royal Association for Disability and Rehabilitation, a considerable amount of local authority housing is inaccessible to disabled people. That leads not only to disabled people waiting long periods for rehousing, and living in inappropriate accommodation, but to massive expenditure on building adaptions. In 1994-95, local authorities spent nearly £85 million adapting properties for disabled people. That is a considerable amount, and much expenditure is a direct consequence of not having a building regulation that makes the necessary arrangements should existing housing stock be required by people with disabilities.
Two years ago, the Department of the Environment issued proposals to extend part M of the building regulations, which ensures accessibility to all new housing. The Department has not moved on from that initial set of proposals. Unless part M is extended quickly, it will have no effect on the supplementary credit approvals and an opportunity will be lost.
New clause 1 would ensure that new build and renovated properties are accessible to disabled people. We hope that our new clause will be supported on all sides of the House so that people with disabilities will no longer have to wait for housing adaptions, and disabled people on housing waiting lists will be able to move into accommodation that is appropriate to their needs.
The Minister for London and Construction (Mr. Nick Raynsford):
As the hon. Member for Torbay (Mr. Sanders) has said, new clause 1 would place a new duty on the Secretary of State to take account of each local authority's strategy to ensure full accessibility standards in determining the amount of any supplementary credit approval. Although he may not be aware of it, the hon. Gentleman's new clause would apply
Question put, That the clause be read a Second time:--
The House divided: Ayes 38, Noes 303.
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