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Written Ministerial Statements

Monday 18 November 2002


HRA Subsidy System

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. Tony McNulty): Following consideration of proposals made in a consultation paper issued in July 2001, the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) subsidy system was changed from 2002–2003 to support the policy of social rent reform announced in the December 2000 housing policy statement—Quality and Choice: A Decent Home for All.

We consulted local authorities and others in summer 2002 on further proposals to adjust the HRA subsidy system to take account of aspects of the new policy that it was not possible to address in 2002–2003. We also consulted on proposals about the treatment of service charges within the HRA subsidy system. There was general support for our objectives, and the HRA subsidy system for 2003–2004 will be adjusted as necessary to reflect the consultation proposals.

For 2003–2004, we will increase the resources per dwelling available at the national level for management allowances by about 8.1 per cent and for maintenance by about 5.7 per cent in cash terms, of which about 2.2 per cent will be to correct for technical changes to the subsidy system. This is an increase on the amounts proposed in the previous Spending Review, and will provide authorities with an extra #63 per dwelling compared with 2002–03.

The Government is committed to fighting antisocial behaviour. Local Authorities, as social landlords, are essential in winning this battle. We will encourage local authorities to use this real terms cash increase to tackle this blight, through imaginative prevention, enforcement and rehabilitation initiatives.

The Major Repairs Allowance will increase by about 2.5 per cent per dwelling in cash terms at the national level. For subsidy purposes, we are assuming that all local authority rents will be subject to two changes for 2003–2004. First an increase by about 3.5 per cent from their levels in 2002–2003. Secondly an adjustment, which for some authorities will increase and for others reduce rents, to move rents a second step towards the formula set out in our policy for rent restructuring. We have assumed that all authorities made a first step towards the formula rent in 2002–2003.

We have today issued for consultation the drafts of the HRA subsidy and Item 8 determinations for 2003–2004, as well as the draft general determination of administration of HRA subsidy 2002, which translate these national figures into subsidy allocations for individual housing authorities. Copies of the draft determinations and supporting material are being placed in the Library of the House, and will be available

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on my Office's web site. These allocations are based on the most up-to-date information available to us from authorities, and may change as that information is refined. Authorities have until 12 December to comment on the draft determinations.

Regional Planning Guidance for the North East

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. Tony McNulty): XRegional Planning Guidance for the North East (RPG1) is being published today.

RPG1 sets out the spatial development strategy that encompasses proposals for the development of the region's economy, housing, transport infrastructure, and other land uses. The priority of the strategy is to direct the majority of new development to the built up areas of the Tyne, Wear and Tees conurbations, and adopt a sequential approach to identifying sites for development to ensure that development is located in the most sustainable locations. RPG1 also sets out proposals for the conservation, management and enhancement of the region's natural and cultural environment.

I am pleased that much of the vision, objectives and core strategy of RPG1 carries forward to a great extent what was proposed in the original draft RPG prepared by the Association of North East Councils (ANEC). RPG1 reflects the effective working that was achieved between ANEC, local authorities, the Regional Development Agency, One NorthEast, and other stakeholders, all of whom have made valuable contributions to refine and enhance the original draft guidance. It builds on the inclusive process for preparing RPG that the Government has put in place. Many of the comments received in response to the consultations carried out earlier have made a positive contribution to the overall strategy for sustainable development and have been taken on board.

The North East Assembly, which now has the role of Regional Planning Body, will work with partners to ensure its effective implementation, monitoring and review."


Police and Criminal Evidence Act

The Minister of State, (Home Department (Mr. John Denham): In May, my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary commissioned a fundamental review of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) and the accompanying Codes of Practice to be conducted jointly by the Home Office and the Cabinet Office.

The review focused on the basic requirements of PACE and the Codes that underlie police procedures with particular emphasis on, but not limited to, those aspects that govern detention and the custody process. In particular, the review team was asked to consider whether the Act and the Codes were still the best way of ensuring that the powers of the police are properly exercised and the rights of suspects are adequately protected.

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The review team has now reported and I have today placed a copy of their report in the Library. The main conclusion of the review is that the basic PACE approach is sound and still strikes broadly the right balance between the powers of the police and the rights and freedoms of the public. In particular, the review found that the general view of PACE is positive, especially in terms of the way it is viewed as having standardised and professionalised police work. The police have a clear framework within which to operate, whilst the provisions of the Act protect the individual.

However, the review also found that there are aspects of PACE that require updating to reflect changes in society over the years since the legislation was brought into force. Taken together, the review has proposed a challenging programme of change to amend the PACE legislation and the Codes of Practice which the Government has accepted and will take forward as part of its ongoing police reform agenda. This is a vital opportunity to improve the way the police operate and taken together with the measures we have already introduced in the Police Reform Act 2002, will bring about a real difference to the everyday lives of police officers on the front line and consequently to the delivery of services.


War Pensions and Allowances

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Dr. Lewis Moonie): New rates of war pensions and allowances proposed from April 2003.

The annual uprating of war pensions and allowances for 2003 will take place from the week beginning 7 April 2003.

War Pensions Rates

Disablement Pension (100% rates unless otherwise shown)Rates 2002Rates 2003
(Weekly rates unless otherwise shown)##
officer (per annum)6,356.006,465.00
other ranks121.80123.90
Age allowances
over 50% but not over 70%12.5512.75
over 70% but not over 90%17.8518.15
over 90%25.1025.50
Disablement gratuity
specified minor injury (min.)775.00788.00
specified minor injury (max.)5,792.005,890.00
unspecified minor injury (min.)321.00326.00
unspecified minor injury (max.)7,532.007,660.00
Unemployability allowance
personal 75.2576.55
adult dependency increase42.4543.15
increase for first child9.8510.00
increase for subsequent children11.5511.75
Invalidity Allowance
higher rate14.9015.15
middle rate9.509.70
lower rate4.754.85
Constant attendance allowance
exceptional rate92.0093.60
intermediate rate69.0070.20
full day rate46.0046.80
part day rate23.0023.40
Comforts allowance
higher rate19.7020.00
lower rate9.8510.00
Mobility supplement43.8544.60
Allowance for lowered standard of occupation (max)45.9246.72
Exceptionally severe disablement allowance46.0046.80
Severe disablement occupational allowance23.0023.40
Clothing allowance (per annum)157.00160.00
Educational allowance (per annum) (max) 120.00120.00
War widow's pension
Widow(er) (private)92.0093.85
Widow(er) (NCO)92.3093.85
Widow(er)—officer (p.a.max)5,689.005,786.00
Childless widow(er) u-40 (other ranks)22.1222.50
Childless widow(er)-u-40 officer (p.a. max) 5,689.005,786.00
Supplementary Pension59.9560.97
Age Allowance
(a) age 65 to 6910.5510.75
(b) age 70 to 7920.2020.55
(c) age 80 and over30.0530.55
Children's allowance
increase for first child14.5514.80
increase for subsequent children16.2016.50
Orphan's pension
increase for first child16.5016.80
increase for subsequent children18.1518.45
Unmarried dependant living as spouse (max)89.9591.50
Rent allowance (maximum)34.8035.40
Adult Orphan's pension (maximum)70.9572.15

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