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Eden District Council

David Maclean: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what impact changes in the local government formula grant will have on public services in Eden District Council, Cumbria. [83144]

Mr. Raynsford: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister will announce the new system for distributing Formula Grant, including detailed grant allocations for individual authorities, at the time of the provisional local government finance settlement which we expect to be around the start of December. Once the Government have allocated their grant, decisions about budgets and services are primarily for local councils to make. However, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has already guaranteed that no authority will face a cut in grant next year on a like for like basis, and hopes to do better than that when announcing the actual floors and ceilings scheme as part of the provisional settlement.

Empty Homes

Nick Harvey : To ask the Deputy Prime Minister when he plans to abolish the 50 per cent. discount on council tax for empty homes; and if he will make a statement. [82715]

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Mr. McNulty: My right hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich and Woolwich announced in a written statement on 19 November that we would be giving English local authorities the discretion to reduce or remove the current 50 per cent. council tax discount on long-term empty property. We are including the necessary provision in our forthcoming Local Government Bill and, subject to parliamentary approval, we aim to implement this change in time for 2004–05 council tax bills.

English Partnerships

John Mann: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what criteria are being used to determine whether the coalfield programme is maintained by English Partnerships or the regional development agencies. [82256]

Mr. McNulty: In announcing the outcome of the quinquennial review of English Partnerships on 24 July 2002, my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister confirmed English Partnerships' role in regenerating those places most badly affected by abandonment and decay and confirmed that he was asking English Partnerships to continue to operate the National Coalfields Programme. This approach was considered to offer the most effective method of delivering the programme.

John Mann: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what consultation with hon. Members is planned on the future of English Partnerships. [82257]

Mr. McNulty: Hon. Members were welcome to make their views known on the future of English Partnerships during the recent Quinquennial Review. Views received were taken into account and the outcome of the review was announced to Parliament on 24 July 2002.

Fire Service College

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister when he expects the suspension of Mr. Terry Glossop, the commandant of the Fire Service College, Moreton-in-Marsh to be resolved; what investigations have taken place; what further investigations need to be undertaken; how many written reports he has received; how many of his officials have been involved; and what reasons underlie the length of time the investigations have lasted. [82656]

Mr. Leslie: The investigation into financial regularity and propriety is currently under way. Mr. Glossop is fully aware of the arrangements. As the investigation is on-going it would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage.

Fire Services (CBRN)

David Davis: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many CBRN decontamination facilities have been established since 11 September 2001, and where they are. [82389]

Mr. Leslie: We have taken steps to assure the efficient functioning of the fire service's existing decontamination facilities and to facilitate, by agreement, the delegation of decontamination operations from local ambulance services to the fire service. Additional equipment, funded from the Capital

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Modernisation Fund, is on order and will be deployed in 2003. Its location is being determined by an assessment of risk.

Firefighters' Dispute

Mrs. Browning: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what costs are being centrally reimbursed to fire authorities in respect of additional expenses they incur due to the strikes by the fire brigade union. [82598]

Mr. Raynsford: Central Government will meet the additional costs incurred by the Ministry of Defence in providing emergency fire cover, and by Police Authorities in supporting it. Central Government will not meet any other additional expenses incurred by Fire Authorities due to strikes by the Fire Brigades Union.

Government Programmes

Mr. Edward Davey: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how much was budgeted in (a) 2000–01 and (b) 2001–02 for (i) Excellence in Cities, (ii) Neighbourhood Management and (iii) Business Brokers Programme; what funds budgeted for in each year were not spent; and whether funds were carried forward in each case. [81701]

Mrs. Roche: Excellence in Cities (EiC) had a total budget allocation of £182 million for the financial year 2000–01, of this some £12 million was unspent and reverted to the departmental central budget.

For the financial year 2001–02 the total budget was some £303.1 million. Information is not yet available on amounts left unspent by the EiC Partnerships, however any unspent funds will remain within the EiC authorities to be re-allocated, this reflects new flexibilities now available under the DfES Standards Fund.

Neighbourhood Management Pathfinders (NMP) and the Business Brokers (BB) are two programmes which form part of the Neighbourhood Renewal Unit's New Ventures Fund (NVF). Plans for both programmes were put in place after the unit was set up in April 2001; there were no budgets for either in 2000–01.

The NVF had a total budget of £50 million for 2001–02. Of this £6 million was allocated to NMP in 2001–02 and expenditure totalled £2.4 million. BB proposals were less advanced and expenditure totalled £41,000. Some £22 million of NVF funding was unspent to be carried forward.

Both programmes form part of the Neighbourhood Renewal Unit's spending plans for this year 2002–03 and for the SR2002 period.


Adam Price: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many homeless families there are in the UK. [82724]

Mrs. Roche: Information on local authorities' activities under homelessness provisions in England is published in a quarterly Statistical Release, XStatutory Homelessness: England". Table 2 of the Statistical Release presents a summary of those households accepted as unintentionally homeless and in priority need under the homelessness provisions of the 1996 Housing Act

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Copies of the Statistical Release are held in the House Library and the latest edition, published on 11 September, presents statistics up to and including the second quarter of 2002.

For information about other parts of the United Kingdom, I refer the hon. Member to my. right hon. Friends the members for Torfaen, Airdrie and Shotts and Hamilton North and Bellshill.

Housing Research

Mr. Edward Davey: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what internal and external research programmes and reports have been commissioned by (a) the Affordable Housing Unit and (b) the Planning Housing and Growth Unit since February. [81697]

Mr. McNulty: The Research Analysis and Evaluation division has commissioned, on behalf of the Affordable Housing Unit and the Government Office for London, three research projects.

As with other parts of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, the Planning Housing and Growth Unit will be drawing on the departmental research programme which oversees a wide range of urban, housing, planning and development issues. The unit will commission additional research when necessary.

Local Authorities (Fraud)

Tim Loughton: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if a hotline for reporting fraud within and against local authorities has been introduced. [83269]

Mr. Leslie: Since a high proportion of fraud perpetrated against local government is benefit fraud by the public, the Department for Work and Pensions has established a fraud hotline which people can telephone to give information about benefit fraud. Many local authorities have also established fraud hotlines.

Tim Loughton: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many local authorities have established staff anti-fraud practices; and what form these systems have taken. [83268]

Mr. Leslie: The Audit Commission's January 2001 publication XProtecting the Public Purse" included the following summary of anti fraud arrangements in local government:

Percentage of councils answering 'yes'
Does the council have an anti fraud and corruption strategy?507284
Does the council have formal arrangements to comply with the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998?n/a5687
Does the council have a police liaison contact?467480
Does the council have a local code of conduct for members?899192
Does the council have a standards committee?n/a2657

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