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Mr. McNulty: The idea of a housing market renewal fund was proposed last autumn by the National Housing Federation, Key Cities Housing Group and the Northern Housing Forums, against a backdrop of severe housing market failure in parts of the country. We are considering the proposal in the context of the current spending review.
However, we are in no doubt that we must address the problem of low demand housing, which underlies the fund proposal. That is why we have invited nine areas, where the problems are most acute, to work with Government establishing pathfinder projects to tackle low demand. We are making available £25 million from the Capital Modernisation Fund to assist the pathfinder projects in vital preparatory work.
Mrs. Roche: The Government are committed to tackling poverty wherever it is found. Within the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, the Social Exclusion Unit, the Urban Policy Unit, the Neighbourhood Renewal Unit
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and Government Offices play a crucial role in the Government's work to tackle poverty, both in urban areas and elsewhere. The Department's work on local government, regional policy and housing and planning also makes a critical contribution in this area.
Mr. McNulty: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my right hon. Friend the Member for Tyneside, North (Mr. Byers) to the hon. Member for Newbury (Mr. Rendel) on 21 May 2002, Official Report, column 137.
20. Mr. Coleman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister and First Secretary of State what discussions he has had with local authorities and registered social landlords regarding the Government's future plans for rent restructuring implementation; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. McNulty: In our consultation paper 'Planning: delivering a fundamental change', published last December, we set out proposals for abolishing structure plans as an unnecessary tier of planning. We invited views on the future role that the counties might play in the planning system in addition to their transport, minerals and waste responsibilities. We are considering the responses made and hope to make a statement this summer. These proposals do not alter the role of the county councils in determining county matter planning applications.
Mr. McNulty: The idea of a local planning advisory service was mooted in the Planning Green Paper"Planning: delivering a fundamental change". We will be making a statement on progress with implementing the Planning Green Paper in due course.
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Mr. McNulty: The Government have received over 16,000 responses to the consultation on the Green Paper "Planningdelivering a fundamental change". We will be making a statement on the outcome of the consultation in due course.
Mrs. Roche: We have adopted a new approach which focuses as much on the problems homeless people face as the places they live. Our specific measures include £125 million investment this year to tackle homelessness, and new legislation to strengthen the assistance to people who are homeless or at risk of being homeless.
We have no plans to propose legislation to lower the voting age. We would, however, welcome a public debate on the issue. It is also open to the Electoral Commission to consider it and make recommendations for future policy.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister and First Secretary of State what progress has been made on achieving the Government's objective that no child should be living in bed-and-breakfast accommodation by 2004; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. McNulty: In March 2002 a £35 million programme was launched to help local authorities ensure that by March 2004 no homeless family with children is in bed-and-breakfast hotels (B&B) other than in an emergency, and even then for no more than six weeks.
The 44 authorities with the highest number of families with children in B&B were required to submit bed-and- breakfast action plans showing how they will meet the March 2004 commitment. On 17 June £25 million was allocated to these authorities to help them implement their B&B plans. We will now be working with the next 40 highest using authorities to see how we can help them reduce B&B numbers. We will be monitoring closely the progress of all authorities.
All local authorities will benefit from recent changes to housing benefit subsidy levels, worth up to £10 million, which provide an incentive to lease private sector homes as a better quality alternative to B&B hotels. Authorities have also been sent a 10-point check list of good practice outlining the key 'building blocks' we expect every authority to have in place to deliver reductions in B&B hotel use. Regional B&B 'Good Practice' seminars have been held and examples of good practice have been shared through a newsletter and are posted on the ODPM website.
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Mr. Norman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister and First Secretary of State who is on the Working Group established to take forward and monitor the operation of the revised Code of Best Practice on Mobile Phone Masts. 
Mr. McNulty: The Telecommunications Working Group is chaired by the Head of the Department's Development Control Policy Division and comprises representatives of the mobile phone network industry and of central and local government.
Mr. Kidney: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister and First Secretary of State what guidance his Department gives to participants in projects involving funding from the (a) Neighbourhood Renewal Fund, (b) New Deal for Communities and (c) Housing Market Renewal Fund relating to private renting. 
Mr. McNulty: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister issues guidance relating to the use of grant from the Neighbourhood Renewal Fund in the form of a Special Grant report, one of which is specifically drafted and laid before Parliament for debate and approval prior to each financial year throughout the lifetime of the fund. Special Grant report No. 78 specifies the purpose and allocations of funding and the conditions for use of the grant in 200102 and Special Grant report No. 93 sets out the corresponding purpose, allocations and conditions in 200203. Copies of the reports are placed in the House of Commons Library, sent to Neighbourhood Renewal Fund grant recipients and made available on the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's website.
The New Deal for Communities grant is provided under section 126 of the Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act 1996 and section 2 of the Employment and Training Act 1973. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister makes NDC guidance available on its website, including:
Phase 1 Proposals Guidance for Applicants
Developing Delivery Plans
Developing and Testing Ideas
Gathering Baseline Information
Outcomes and Milestones
Support and Advice
New Deal for Communities and the Single Regeneration BudgetProject Appraisal and Approval
New Deal for Communities Annual Review 200001
NDC Project Appraisal and Approval Guidance
Monitoring, Review and Evaluation
Race Equality Guidance.
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However, we are in no doubt that we must address the problem of low demand housing, which underlies the fund proposal. That is why we have invited nine areas, where the problems are most acute, to work with Government establishing pathfinder projects to tackle low demand. We are making available £25 million from the Capital Modernisation Fund to assist the pathfinder projects in vital preparatory work. We have not issued guidance in relation to this funding, but limited criteria must be met before it can be drawn down.
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