In the time available I shall be delighted to put the Government's case again on the issues and problems in Newham. Last July I replied to a debate introduced by the hon. Member for Newham, North-West (Mr. Banks), whom I am pleased to see present.
I would first like to deal with housing. Recognising the case made by the London borough of Newham at the housing investment programme meeting in September 1987 and in the borough's HIP strategy and programme, the Government are increasing the borough's initial HIP allocation from £17·5 million in 1987–88 to over £18 million in 1988–89. It was one of eight boroughs which received an increase in their HIP allocation to reflect their particular problems.
Further HIP support is available through the Government's estate action programme to help underpin measures to improve the management and quality of life on difficult-to-let estates. Newham has taken full advantage of such funds and recognises the importance of supplementing these with private-sector funding where possible, for example at Woodlands estate. If current bids are approved, the total additional HIP support through the estate action programme could increase from £1·9 million in 1987–88 to nearly £3·3 million in 1988–89.
In the current financial year, Newham's HIP allocation has been increased by a further £1·2 million to bring back into use empty dwellings for homeless families. This is reducing the number currently being placed in bed-and-breakfast accommodation on the one hand and reducing the number of the borough's empty properties on the other. Newham has the highest percentage of empty local authority dwellings—some 9 per cent.