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Rural Areas

Mr. Yeo: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will provide the latest Government or Government recognised figures for the percentage of parishes in England that have (a) no shops, (b) no post office or sub post office, (c) no GP surgery, (d) no primary school, (e) no secondary school, (f) no village hall or similar community centre, (g) no dispensing chemist, (h) no police station, (i) no pub, (j) no working church, (k) no daily bus service and (l) no bank; and if he will give comparable figures for 1997. [136729]

Mr. Meacher [holding answer 6 November 2000]: The most recent comprehensive survey of rural services was undertaken by the Rural Development Commission in 1997. It showed:

Percentage of parishes without:Percentage
Permanent shop (of any kind)42
Post Office43
GP (based in the parish)83
School (for 15 year olds)93
School (for 6 year olds)50
Village Hall/Community Centre28
Chemist (of any kind)79
Police Station92
Public House29
Daily Bus Service75
Bank/Building Society91

(2) Percentage of parishes which either have no church/chapel or are without a resident minister.

The Countryside Agency is undertaking a further survey of the level of service provision in rural areas this year. I understand that this will be published in the spring of 2001.

7 Nov 2000 : Column: 139W

Mr. Yeo: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what are the latest available figures for the level of use of public bus services in rural areas; and what the comparable figures were in each year since 1995. [136677]

Mr. Hill [holding answer 6 November 2000]: The data collected by my Department on the number of bus passenger journeys does not specifically identify journeys in rural areas.

However, information provided separately to my Department by local authorities on the Rural Bus Subsidy Grant introduced in 1998 shows that journeys on the 1,800 services funded by the grant have risen from 10 million in 1998-99 to 16 million in 1999-2000.

Local Government Finance

Mr. Yeo: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if the formulae used to allocate central Government funds to local authorities have been changed since May 1997. [136725]

Ms Beverley Hughes [holding answer 6 November 2000]: Yes. I refer the hon. Member to my reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Stafford (Mr. Kidney), on 13 July 2000, Official Report, columns 626-27W.

Area-based Initiatives

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what action is being taken to ensure that area based initiatives target money to areas with the greatest need. [136700]

Ms Beverley Hughes: The Action Plan for implementing the National Strategy for Neighbourhood Renewal, which will be published shortly, will set out how the Government's main spending programmes and its area-based initiatives can best contribute to the target of narrowing the gap between areas with the greatest need and the rest of the country. The Neighbourhood Renewal Unit will take this forward cross-departmentally. The £800 million over the next three years for the Neighbourhood Renewal Fund will provide extra resources for the 88 most deprived authorities and Local Strategic Partnerships will ensure local people play a part.

Waste Disposal Authorities

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if individual waste disposal authorities are permitted to export some or all of their waste to the areas of other waste disposal authorities within the same region. [137245]

Mr. Mullin: The proximity principle is one of the criteria required to underpin all decisions of waste disposal authorities. However, the precise location for waste disposal is a matter for those authorities and their contractors.

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will make a statement on the guidance given by his Department to waste disposal authorities on the regional content for their activities. [137244]

7 Nov 2000 : Column: 140W

Mr. Mullin: Guidance on the planning for waste at the regional level and its implications for waste local plans and waste disposal authorities is contained in Planning Policy Guidance Note No. 10 "Planning and Waste Management" and in PPG 11 "Regional Planning". They require regional and local plans to be developed in line with the national waste strategy set out in Waste Strategy 2000: England and Wales (Cm 4693) published in May.

Local Authority Reorganisation

Ms Coffey: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what resources he will make available to local authorities that were reorganised on 1 April 1998 in respect of reorganisation costs incurred by them in 2000-01; and if he will make a statement. [137358]

Ms Armstrong: On 14 July I invited authorities that reorganised on 1 April 1998 to submit estimates of the amount of expenditure they expect to incur on transitional costs of reorganisation in 2000-01. On the basis of the information provided by authorities, I have decided the revised maximum amounts that it would be appropriate to allocate towards such costs in 2000-01.

The amounts are as follows:

Authority Amount(3) 2000-01
1998 Reorganisations
West Berkshire Council3,740
Reading Borough Council3,628
Slough Borough Council1,894
Wokingham District Council2,237
County of Hertfordshire District Council1,711
Worcestershire County Council4,471
Plymouth City Council3,515
Torbay Borough Council2,910
Thurrock Borough Council3,213
Nottingham City Council1,095
Halton Borough Council3,759
Telford and Wrekin District Council670
Medway Borough Council2,085
Peterborough City Council472
Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council765
Blackpool Borough Council980

(3) Maximum amounts: £000s rounded

Windsor and Maidenhead, Bracknell Forest, Malvern Hills, Southend on Sea and Warrington did not submit bids for SCA.

Needs Indices (Housing Capital)

Mr. Healey: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions when he will announce the results of the consultation exercise on the needs indices to be used in the allocation of 2001-02 housing capital resources to local authorities and registered social landlords. [137364]

Mr. Raynsford: I am pleased to be able to announce that the needs indices for the 2001-02 allocations have now been finalised after careful consideration of the responses to the Consultation Paper we issued in summer and a number of other representations we have received.

7 Nov 2000 : Column: 141W

We have, with one exception, made the proposed changes to the local authority stock condition indicator in the Generalised Needs Index (GNI)--the index used in allocation of resources to local authorities. These were supported in nearly all responses. The exception is on the relative weights given to the renovation and improvement elements where we have decided to base these on the relative costs of the work as suggested in a number of responses.

Several of the responses raised concerns over authorities' ability to fund either private sector renewal activity or provision of new affordable housing following the transfer of resources into the new Major Repairs Allowance (MRA), which is ring-fenced for use on council housing. In the light of these responses, I have decided to increase the shares of the private sector stock and new provision indicators in the GNI to 45 per cent.--up from 35 per cent. and 40 per cent. respectively in the Consultation Paper. These increases involve reducing the share of the local authority stock indicator to 10 per cent. but we intend to increase this in the next two years to reflect the extra resources in these years which are expected to be spent largely on improving council housing. The other significant issued raised in the responses concerned the overall reduction in the targeting of resources to deprived areas resulting from the introduction of the MRA. Specific targeting of resources to deprived areas is not appropriate in the MRA but I have decided to increase the level of targeting within the GNI from 20 per cent. to 30 per cent.

The introduction of the MRA and the related GNI changes lead to shifts in the distribution of resources. We will ensure that all authorities with housing stock receive a 2001-02 allocation (housing capital plus estimated MRA) which is at least 10 per cent. above their 2000-01 allocation unless there has been a significant fall in their relative performance or the number of council houses they own has fallen substantially through partial stock transfers or demolitions.

No changes were proposed or are being made to the Housing Needs Index used in allocation of resources to registered social landlords, beyond the usual annual data updating.

A list of the respondents to the Consultation Paper is available in the House Library and Members can view individual responses in the Department's Library. I am arranging for details of the 2001-02 indices for each authority to be placed in the Library of the House.

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