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Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what plans he has to promote and facilitate local authorities' participation in the 'In Town Without My Car Day'; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Leslie: Under the 2002 Spending Review, there is provision of £30 million: £10 million for each of the three years 200304, 200405 and 200506, for local e-voting, enabling the Government to contribute this sum to the costs of those local authorities and their IT partners participating in e-voting pilot schemes over the next three years.
Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the total Government expenditure on the trials into new methods of voting undertaken at the May elections was, broken down into (a) e-voting, (b) postal ballots and (c) other. 
Mr. Leslie: The Government made £4.135 million available to contribute to the costs of the 16 local authorities running electronic voting and counting schemes in the May 2002 electoral modernisation pilot programme. The costs of piloting all-postal or other voting techniques were borne by the 14 local authorities concerned.
Mr. Leslie: The Electoral Commission is evaluating the local authorities that ran e-voting pilot schemes in the May 2002 local and mayoral elections and will provide a detailed assessment of the impact of each scheme to the Deputy Prime Minister by 1 August 2002.
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Mr. Leslie: No reliable estimates exist of the costs incurred by local authorities in complying with their duty under the Local Government Act 1999. Any such costs would have to be set against the benefits of improved services.
The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has commissioned Cardiff Business School to evaluate the long-term impact of best value in English local authorities from 2001 until 2005. Part of this involves an assessment of the impact of Best Value in delivering improved services, including an element of cost-effectiveness. However, this is reliant upon year-on-year Best Value performance indicator data, which is currently being collected to monitor improvements. In the meantime, we are aiming to publish the results arising from the first year's census of local authorities. The census provides the benchmark against which the implementation of Best Value and its impact on service delivery will be assessed.
Mr. McNulty: The Government set out their policies for locating and bringing back into use empty and abandoned properties in their response to the Transport, Local Government and the Regions Committee's report on empty homes, published on 8 May 2002. Copies have been placed in the Library of the House.
The range of measures in place include: funding for the Empty Homes Agency to help local authorities bring empty properties back into use; the reform of private sector renewal legislation; and the introduction of low demand pathfinder projects.
Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what measures there are to ensure that public sector workers are able to find affordable homes in (a) Coventry, (b) London and (c) the rest of the UK. 
Mr. McNulty: I refer my hon. Friend to the statement made by our right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister on 18 July. This set out our plans for tackling the shortage of affordable homes in London and the south-east, and providing homes for key workers and those in the most need.
With the additional funding for housing and planning announced by our right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, spending will rise to £4.7 billion by 200506up by £1.5 billion on this year's figures.
The new plans will supplement our existing measures to deliver new homes for key workers, which include the £250 million Starter Home Initiative (SHI). This aims to help 10,000 key workers in England, particularly teachers, police, nurses and other essential health staff to buy homes within a reasonable travelling distance from their work place in areas where the high cost of housing is undermining recruitment and retention.
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Key workers may also be helped through the increased investment provided for rent and low cost home ownership through the Housing Corporation's Approved Development Programme and local authorities. Since 1997, we have almost doubled funding for affordable housing to £1.2 billion a year and this is now supporting the creation of 20,000 new homes every year. As well as the additional funding for new homes, we will be looking at ways to extend our existing programmes for affordable housing through greater partnership with employers and public and private sector landlords.
Mr. McNulty: The number of new homes by tenure built within the district of Coventry city council since 1997 is shown in table A. It is not possible to report exactly how many homes have been improved in Coventry since 1997. However, figures for the numbers of local authority dwellings which received 'capital type' investment and the number of private sector renovation grants allocated is given in table B. This information is available by financial year only.
|Registered social landlords||69||132||69||11||36|
|Local authority dwellings that receive 'capital type' investment(27)||Private sector renovation grants|
(27) Coventry city council became an LSVT authority in 200001 and they reported doing no 'capital type' investment work on their own dwellings in that year.
ODPM Housing Investment Programme returns.
Mr. McNulty: RPG6 identifies that development plans should provide 4,000 additional dwellings in Cambridgeshire each year between 1996 and 2016. It is the role of the local planning authorities to prepare development plans to accommodate the development proposed in RPG. The replacement Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Structure Plan, prepared by Cambridgeshire county and Peterborough city councils, proposes that 9,500 dwellings be built in Huntingdonshire over the
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period 1999 and 2016. The structure plan's proposed housing distribution will be debated at an examination in public starting in October.
Last week the Deputy Prime Minister expressed his concerns that housing needs are not being met and that tackling the housing shortage is national responsibility. The Deputy Prime Minister also announced that over the coming months he intended to work with regional and local partners to establish where, at what scale, and how quickly development could be achieved in the potential growth areas, including within the London-Stansted- Cambridge corridor. The Local Government Conference has commenced a review of regional planning guidance for the East of England and I would expect this to consider the issues of where, at what scale and how quickly development can be delivered.
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