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15 Oct 2002 : Column 829W—continued

Local Government Finance

Mr. Swayne: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what provision he will make to fire authorities spending above their SSAs when he revises the SSA formula for fire; and if he will make a statement. [73940]

Mr. Christopher Leslie: Statutory responsibility for the provision of fire services rests locally with the fire authority.

We invited comments on options for changes to the formulae for the distribution of revenue support grant for local authority services, including fire, in a consultation period which ran from 8 July to 30 September. Our proposals will be announced in the provisional local government finance settlement later this year.

The total provision for revenue funding for fire and other local authority services is considered in the spending reviews. Under Spending Review 2002, announced in July, the fire service share of Total Standard Spending in England will be increased by #61.6 million (4 per cent.) for 2003–04 and by increases of #70 million (4.4 per cent.) and #50 million (2.9 per cent.) in the following two years.

Fire Service

Mr. Wray: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what measures are in place to ensure that the Fire Service has adequate resources and equipment. [73389]

Mr. Christopher Leslie: Statutory responsibility for the provision of fire services rests locally with the fire authority. However, a fire authority may not reduce its

15 Oct 2002 : Column 830W

establishment without the approval of the Secretary of State under section 19 of the Fire Services Act 1947. Consent is only given when he is satisfied that the national standards of fire cover will be maintained. Fire authorities are inspected regularly by HM Fire Services Inspectorate as to the manner in which they are performing their functions.

Under Spending Review 2002 the fire service share of Total Standard Spending in England will be increased by #61.6 million (4 per cent.) for 2003–04 and by increases of #70 million (4.4 per cent.) and #50 million (2. per cent.) in the following two years.

There have also been substantial increases in fire service capital provision for England and Wales, with an increase of 67 per cent. in 2001–02. A further increase of 3.4 per cent. is planned for 2003–04 and this level of credits will be maintained for 2004–05 and 2005–06. An additional #200 million in PFI credit approvals has already been earmarked for the fire service, and a further #50 million in PFI credits will be made available to the service in both 2004–05 and 2005–06.

#43 million will be provided under the Capital Modernisation Fund for mass decontamination equipment, supported by an additional #13 million in revenue funding. We have said that we shall fully fund the new fire service radio replacement strategy. Amongst other funding initiatives, we are providing #15 million additional funding over three years from 2003–4 for community fire safety and arson reduction initiatives, targeting socially deprived areas.

Under the Central Local Partnership, we will continue to work closely with fire service stakeholders in England and Wales in the Fire Service Expenditure Forecasting Group to assess future funding pressures.

Mr. Wray: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister (1) if he plans to bring the firefighters working in the Retained and Volunteer Duty System up to the same standard of training and pay as their whole time counterparts; [73392]

Mr. Nick Raynsford: As announced on 5 September, an independent review of the Fire Service is being conducted by Professor Sir George Bain. The review will look at the future organisation and management of the fire service in the United Kingdom, including retained and voluntary firefighters. In that context it will look at pay and conditions of service. It would not be appropriate, therefore, for me to pre-empt the outcome of the review.

Mr. Wray: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the recent discussions with the Fire Brigades Union; and what conclusions have been reached. [73393]

Mr. Christopher Leslie: Following discussions with the Fire Brigades Union and other interested parties, on the 5 September my right hon. Friend the member for Greenwich & Woolwich announced an independent review of the Fire Service. The review will be conducted by Professor Sir George Bain, who has an outstanding

15 Oct 2002 : Column 831W

record in industrial relations and academia, including key roles at the London Business School, ACAS and the Low Pay Commission. He will be assisted by Sir Anthony Young, a past President of the TUC, and Sir Michael Lyons, who until recently was the Chief Executive of Birmingham City Council.

Housing

Ms Oona King: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the average length of time was between an application for rehousing under the Seaside and Country Homes Scheme and nomination to a property in the last 12 months. [74151]

Mr. Tony McNulty: 276 days.

Ms Oona King: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what has been the annual rate of reletting of council housing stock in each year since 1972. [74261]

Mr. Tony McNulty: Centrally available information collected from local authorities annually since 1979–80 is presented below.

Local Authority Stock Lettings to New and Existing Tenants: England

Total Lettingsas a % of stock
1979–80411,8008.6
1980–81444,0009.2
1981–82414,7008.6
1982–83438,8009.0
1983–84429,1009.1
1984–85429,3009.3
1985–86437,0009.6
1986–87430,2009.6
1987–88425,8009.6
1988–89410,2009.5
1989–90390,3009.3
1990–91400,9009.9
1991–92406,50010.4
1992–93399,90010.4
1993–94404,90010.8
1994–95407,90011.1
1995–96415,20011.6
1996–97422,00012.2
1997–98403,90011.9
1998–99378,90011.4
1999–2000354,00011.1
2000–01326,60010.8

Note:

Lettings include mutual exchanges and transfers of existing tenants, and lettings made to new tenants on either secure or non-secure tenancies.

Source:

DOE/DTLR/ODPM Housing Investment Programme returns (annual)


Mr. Gareth Thomas: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what discussions he has had with local authorities about the Housing Mutual model to encourage housing transfer. [74515]

Mr. Tony McNulty: Ministers have had no discussions with English local authorities about the Housing Mutual model to encourage housing transfer.

Mr. Wiggin: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the rate of change was in house prices in the past five years, broken down by region. [73964]

Mr. Tony McNulty: The rate of change in house prices in the past five years, by region, is estimated to have been as follows.

15 Oct 2002 : Column 832W

North East+3.7%
North West+54.8%
Yorkshire and The Humber+49.6%
East Midlands+72.4%
West Midlands+65.4%
East+92.6%
London+110.0%
South East+94.6%
South West+97.0%
England+82.7%
Wales+56.1%
Scotland+27.5%
Northern Ireland+66.1%
United Kingdom+77.1%

Sources:

ODPM Survey of Mortgage Lenders

Increase in the regional house price indices between Q2 1997 and Q2 2002.


Mr. Wray: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what recent action has been taken to address the Housing shortages in (a) Glasgow and (b) the UK. [74419]

Mr. Tony McNulty: Following devolution, housing policy in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland is a matter for the relevant devolved administrations.

Regional Planning Guidance requires planning bodies to strategically examine housing need, including the need for affordable housing, across their areas. We also expect local authorities to plan to meet their housing needs.

However, we recognise the need for more affordable homes in England, and have substantially increased resources to address this. Funding for the Housing Corporation's Approved Development Programme (ADP) for next year will be #1.2 billion, almost double the figure for 2000–2001. This should deliver 22,700 homes next year.

My right hon. Friend, the Deputy Prime Minister will return to the House at the turn of the year with a comprehensive long-term programme of action to tackle supply and demand issues, as promised in his statement of 18 July, Official Report, Hansard, (col. 438).

Mr. Wray: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what recent action has been taken to ensure that (a) the right to buy is not abused and (b) people are able to have the option of buying their homes. [74421]

Mr. Tony McNulty: We are concerned about abuses of the Right to Buy scheme and we have commissioned research into their scope and extent. The results will be available by the end of this year. We are considering what can be done about such abuses, but we have no plans to end the Right to Buy scheme.

Under its devolved powers, the Scottish Parliament has passed legislation introducing a Modernised Right to Buy for new tenants in Scotland, to take effect from 30 September 2002.

Mr. Wray: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what recent measures have been taken to improve the quality and conditions of social housing in (a) Glasgow and (b) the UK. [74420]

15 Oct 2002 : Column 833W

Mr. Tony McNulty: Responsibility for housing in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland is a matter for the relevant devolved administrations.

For England we have set a Public Service Agreement target to bring all social housing up to a decent standard by 2010.

To help ensure delivery against this target we have set up a Delivery Unit to work with Government Offices and the Housing Corporation to ensure local authorities and housing associations quantify the level of non-decent housing in their stock and put in place a strategy for dealing with the problem, backed up by a very significant increase in resources since 1997.

The emphasis on delivery is paying dividends and we are on track to meet our interim target of bringing a third of the worst social housing up to a decent standard by 2004.

Ms Oona King: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many applicants are on the waiting list for a nomination to a property under the Seaside and Country Homes Scheme. [74150]

Mr. Tony McNulty: On 30 September 2002 there were 564 applicants on the waiting list for a nomination to a property under the Seaside and Country Homes Scheme.

15 Oct 2002 : Column 834W

Ms Oona King: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what research his Department has undertaken into the impact of relets of council housing of the introduction of the Right-to-Buy scheme. [74262]

Mr. Tony McNulty: We have commissioned research into the scope and extent of abuses of the Right to Buy scheme. The results will be available by the end of this year.

Ms Oona King: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister (1) what assessment he has made of the impact of the Seaside and Country Homes Scheme on easing pressure on social housing in London; [74152]

Mr. Tony McNulty: The number of London Lettings released by the operation of the scheme in recent years are listed in the table below. This represents a useful contribution to easing pressure on social housing in London.

The number of households rehoused under the Seaside and Country Homes Scheme by property size are as follows. Figures prior to 1996–97 are not held centrally and could only be provided at disproportionate cost. For 1999–00 (when the management of the Scheme was moved from North British Housing Association to HOMES) figures are not available by property size.

Local Authority1996–971997–981998–991999–002000–012001–02
Barking and Dagenham2 2 bed3 2 bed4 2 bed41 bedsit1 1 bed
3 3 bed1 3 bed1 1 bed1 3 bed
1 3 bed
Barnet1 1 bed1 1 bed1 1 bed02 bedsit2 1 bed
3 2 bed1 2 bed1 1 bed
1 3 bed2 2 bed
1 4 bed
Bexley1 1 bed1 1 bed1 1 bed0
Brent1 3 bed1 1 bed01 3 bed1 2 bed
Bromley2 1 bed1 1 bed2 1 bed01 1 bed3 1 bed
1 3 bed1 2 bed1 2 bed
1 5+ bed
Camden2 bedsit1 1 bed6 1 bed73 bedsit1 1 bed
4 1 bed3 2 bed3 2 bed6 1 bed2 1 bed
3 2 bed1 3 bed3 3 bed2 2 bed1 3 bed
1 4 bed1 4 bed
City of London1 1 bed1 1 bed1 bedsit11 bedsit
1 2 bed1 2 bed1 1 bed
1 3 bed1 2 bed
1 3 bed
Croydon1 1 bed1 bedsit4 1 bed76 1 bed3 1 bed
2 1 bed3 3 bed3 2 bed3 2 bed
2 3 bed1 3 bed2 3 bed
1 4 bed
Ealing2 1 bed1 1 bed1 1 bed41 2 bed1 1 bed
1 3 bed1 2 bed2 3 bed1 4 bed
Enfield5 1 bed1 bedsit1 1 bed51 2 bed1 1 bed
2 2 bed1 1 bed1 2 bed1 3 bed3 2 bed
2 3 bed4 2 bed2 3 bed1 3 bed
1 3 bed
Greenwich1 3 bed5 1 bed9 2 bed65 1 bed3 1 bed
3 2 bed9 2 bed2 3 bed4 2 bed3 2 bed
2 3 bed3 3 bed3 3 bed
3 4 bed
Hackney1 bedsit8 1 bed3 bedsit131 bedsit1 1 bed
6 2 bed5 2 bed3 1 bed2 1 bed2 2 bed
6 3 bed10 3 bed9 2 bed1 2 bed2 3 bed
1 5+ bed6 3 bed
1 4 bed
Hammersmith & Fulham2 1 bed3 1 bed4 2 bed12 2 bed1 bedsit
3 2 bed1 2 bed1 3 bed1 2 bed
1 3 bed1 3 bed1 4 bed
1 4 bed
Haringey1 1 bed2 1 bed7 2 bed132 bedsit2 1 bed
3 2 bed3 2 bed1 2 bed4 3 bed
1 3 bed5 3 bed2 3 bed
1 4 bed
Harrow1 2 bed2 1 bed1 1 bed01 1 bed
1 3 bed
Havering4 1 bed3 1 bed1 1 bed43 1 bed
3 2 bed1 2 bed4 2 bed3 3 bed
2 3 bed
Hillingdon1 3 bed1 2 bed01 1 bed1 3 bed
1 3 bed1 2 bed
2 3 bed
Hounslow1 1 bed1 1 bed1 bedsit61 2 bed4 1 bed
2 2 bed1 2 bed1 1 bed4 3 bed3 2 bed
1 2 bed1 3 bed
2 3 bed
Islington4 1 bed1 bedsit2 1 bed125 1 bed3 1 bed
5 2 bed2 1 bed4 2 bed3 2 bed4 2 bed
1 3 bed5 2 bed1 3 bed1 3 bed5 3 bed
4 3 bed1 4 bed2 4 bed2 4 bed
1 4 bed
Kensington and Chelsea1 1 bed1 1 bed1 bedsit21 bedsit1 bedsit
2 2 bed1 1 bed1 3 bed
1 2 bed
Kingston upon Thames1 1 bed1 bedsit11 3 bed1 2 bed
1 1 bed
Lambeth3 1 bed1 1 bed4 bedsit112 1 bed1 1 bed
9 2 bed5 2 bed2 1 bed4 2 bed1 2 bed
3 3 bed6 3 bed1 2 bed3 3 bed3 3 bed
1 4 bed2 4 bed4 3 bed1 4 bed3 4 bed
Lewisham2 1 bed3 1 bed2 1 bed62 1 bed2 1 bed
3 2 bed9 2 bed4 2 bed1 2 bed6 2 bed
2 3 bed6 3 bed3 3 bed5 3 bed3 3 bed
1 4 bed1 4 bed
Merton1 1 bed1 1 bed1 2 bed22 2 bed1 1 bed
1 2 bed2 3 bed1 3 bed1 3 bed
1 3 bed
Newham1 bedsit2 1 bed2 1 bed1316 1 bed2 1 bed
6 1 bed10 2 bed10 2 bed7 2 bed10 2 bed
12 2 bed3 3 bed5 3 bed7 3 bed10 3 bed
4 3 bed2 4 bed3 4 bed1 4 bed
4 4 bed
Redbridge2 1 bed2 2 bed1 1 bed02 1 bed
1 2 bed1 2 bed
Richmond upon Thames1 2 bed1 bedsit01 1 bed1 1 bed
1 3 bed
Southwark4 1 bed1 bedsit7 1 bed144 1 bed2 1 bed
11 2 bed6 1 bed7 2 bed5 2 bed8 2 bed
10 3 bed8 2 bed8 3 bed12 3 bed6 3 bed
3 4 bed5 3 bed1 4 bed1 4 bed
1 5+ bed
Sutton1 3 bed1 2 bed1 1 bed31 2 bed1 1 bed
1 5+ bed1 2 bed1 3 bed1 3 bed
2 3 bed
Tower Hamlets2 1 bed1 bedsit1 bedsit1010 1 bed4 1 bed
4 2 bed6 1 bed1 1 bed4 2 bed2 2 bed
4 3 bed7 2 bed3 2 bed2 3 bed3 3 bed
3 3 bed1 3 bed1 4 bed1 4 bed
1 4 bed
Waltham Forest2 1 bed1 1 bed1 1 bed82 1 bed1 1 bed
5 2 bed1 2 bed3 2 bed2 2 bed1 2 bed
1 3 bed1 3 bed1 3 bed1 3 bed
Wandsworth1 1 bed2 1 bed4 1 bed32 2 bed2 1 bed
3 2 bed2 2 bed4 2 bed2 3 bed2 2 bed
1 3 bed2 3 bed2 3 bed
Westminster1 bedsit1 bedsit1 4 bed21 1 bed1 bedsit
3 1 bed3 1 bed1 1 bed
1 4 bed
Total5 bedsit8 bedsit11 bedsit10 bedsit4 bedsit
58 1 bed63 1 bed46 1 bed69 1 bed47 1 bed
85 2 bed86 2 bed85 2 bed51 2 bed54 2 bed
47 3 bed53 3 bed43 3 bed65 3 bed51 3 bed
12 4 bed10 4 bed5 4 bed10 4 bed10 4 bed
4 5+ bed
Moves from RSLs (location and property size not recorded)98925
Total207224199166214191


15 Oct 2002 : Column 837W

Ms Oona King: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many appeals against the valuation of a property being sold under the right-to-buy scheme have been submitted in London in each year since 1980; and how many of those appeals resulted in a reduction in the valuation. [74267]

Mr. Tony McNulty: Figures for the number of appeals against Right to Buy valuations in London are only available from 1992 onwards, information prior to this date is not held centrally and could only be provided at disproportionate cost. They are as follows:

YearAppeals against
valuations by local
authorities
Appeals against
valuations by Registered
Social Landlords
1992–932,31127
1993–941,30025
1994–9575718
1995–967054
1996–977152
1997–989206
1998–991,0414
1999–20001,61539
2000–012,00842
2000–021,75880
Totals13,130247

Information on the number of appeals that resulted in a lower valuation is not held centrally, and could only be provided at disproportionate cost.

A review of the system for valuing properties for Right to Buy purposes is in progress. The results will be made publicly available when the project is completed.


Ms Oona King: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what assessment he has made of the popularity of the Seaside and Country Homes Scheme among older tenants in London. [74153]

Mr. Tony McNulty: No recent assessment has been made of the popularity of the Scheme.

Ms Oona King: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what plans he has to require boroughs in London which have received above expected Approved Development Programme funding from the Housing Corporation to make a proportion of new lettings available to applicants from boroughs with lower than expected ADP funding. [74260]

15 Oct 2002 : Column 838W

Mr. Tony McNulty: The Housing Corporation will be working closely with London boroughs to agree a framework across London for the pooling of nominations for new lettings on a sub-regional basis, similar to those in existence under the London Housing Partnership programme, to widen choice and promote cohesive communities.

Ms Oona King: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what assessment he has made of the impact that the Rent Rebate Subsidy Limitation regulations have on a local authority's capacity to finance the revenue costs of concierge security schemes. [74148]

Mr. Tony McNulty: Each local authority has a responsibility to balance its Housing Revenue Account, and to decide what services it can provide taking account of its income e.g. from rents and HRA subsidy.

Mr. Swayne: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what plans he has to establish separate funding provision for (a) new social and affordable housing, (b) repair and regeneration of social sector stock, and (c) funding of housing market renewal; and if he will make a statement. [73944]

Mr. Tony McNulty: The 2002 spending review settlement has provided an extra #1.4 billion for housing over three years. This will help to provide well-designed, affordable homes where they are needed, improve stock conditions in both the social and the private sectors, and tackle low demand through significant funding for the pathfinder projects.

Current arrangements channel most funding for new affordable housing through the Housing Corporation, and for repair of social stock through local authorities.

My right hon. Friend The Deputy Prime Minister announced on 18 July, Official Report, Hansard, (col. 438) that he plans to bring housing investment into a single regional pot, to ensure that housing investment decisions are brought together with planning for housing, and linked with regional economic and transport strategies. He is carefully considering the best way forward and will announce the details in due course.

Ms Oona King: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what plans he has to expand the Seaside and Country Homes Scheme. [74154]

Mr. Tony McNulty: There are currently no plans to expand the Seaside and Country Homes Scheme. However, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is working with HOMES, North British Housing

15 Oct 2002 : Column 839W

Association and the London Borough of Bromley (on behalf of the London Boroughs) to review the workings of the scheme in order to improve the efficiency of its operation.

Ms Oona King: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many households in London are one or more bedrooms below the bedroom standard, broken down by local authority. [74145]

Mr. Tony McNulty: The information requested for London, together with comparable data for England, is given in the table below.

Information for individual local authorities is not held centrally, and could only be provided at disproportionate cost.

Households Below the Bedroom Standard 1 : 2001–02 2

ThousandPer cent.
London1756
England5012

Source:

Survey of English Housing, ODPM

1 Bedroom standard is an indicator of occupation density. A notional number of bedrooms are allocated to each household in accordance with its age/sex/marital status composition and the relationship of the members to each other. This is then compared with the actual number of bedrooms (including bed-sitters) available for the sole use of the household.

2 Information for 2001–02 is provisional.


Ms Oona King: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what research he has commissioned into the Housing Health and Safety Rating System since July 2001; what the terms of reference are for that research; who is undertaking it; and when he expects it to be published. [74143]

Mr. Tony McNulty: We are currently running three research projects relating to the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS). The first, which began in January 2001, is to develop the statistics to support the system, and is being carried out by Warwick University with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. The second, which began in August 2001, is an evaluation project, by DTZ Pieda, to identify the practical lessons to be learned from the publication of Version 1 of HHSRS in July 2000. The third, which began in September 2001, is to produce the guidance needed to assist local authorities in the application of HHSRS specifically to houses in multiple occupation, and is being carried out by the Building Research Establishment. Reports on these projects are expected to be published by the end of this year. This work will inform the production of Version 2 of HHSRS, which we expect to commission in time for publication next autumn as part of a comprehensive package of guidance.

Ms Oona King: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what recent assessment he has made of the size and type of accommodation suitable as an alternative to LA and RSL tenants underoccupying their current accommodation; and what measures he has taken to encourge LAs and RSLs in areas of high demand to ensure that this type of accommodation is included in new developments. [74156]

15 Oct 2002 : Column 840W

Mr. Tony McNulty: No such assessment has been carried out by the Government. However, local authorities in their role as strategic housing authorities are required to assess the type of accommodation required in their areas. Local authorities may also require a proportion of affordable housing as part of new developments, often built by Registered Social Landlords (RSLs) and funded by the Housing Corporation. RSLs must ensure that bids for capital investment in social housing fit with local authority and regional priorities and the Housing Corporation's National Investment Strategy.

Over the next ten years, the Government will encourage councils and housing associations to set their rents to within 5 per cent. of the levels given by a national formula that reflects a property's size, location and condition. This will give tenants the choice over paying more for a larger property in a high cost area, or saving money by renting a smaller property.

Ms Oona King: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what plans he has to replace the current overcrowding standards; and if he will make a statement. [74144]

Mr. Tony McNulty: The Government has no immediate plans to replace the overcrowding standard. But it is considering the extent to which overcrowding can be tackled through a new health and safety enforcement regime for housing, based on the new health and safety rating system.

The Government intends to legislate to introduce the new enforcement regime as a replacement for the fitness standard when Parliamentary time allows.

Ms Oona King: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what recent assessment he has made of the impact of concierge security schemes on anti-social behaviour in local authority tower blocks. [74147]

Mr. Tony McNulty: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has not made a recent assessment of the impact of concierge security schemes on anti-social behaviour in local authority tower blocks.


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