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2 Dec 2002 : Column 637Wcontinued
Tim Loughton: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister pursuant to the answer given to the hon. Member for East Worthing and Shoreham on 25 November 2002, Official Report, column 119W, what action he is taking to encourage local authorities who do not have an anti-fraud and corruption strategy to implement one. 
Mr. Leslie: A high proportion of fraud perpetrated against local authorities is benefit fraud. One of the Government's current best value performance indicators for local authorities requires authorities to state whether they have a strategy for combating such fraud. The Benefit Fraud Inspectorate, which is part of the Department for Work and Pensions, reports on benefit administration across both central government agencies and local authorities with particular emphasis on standards of counter fraud and security performance. Auditors appointed by the Audit Commission have a responsibility to review and report on the prevention and
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detection of fraud and corruption in the authority. New Codes of Conduct, which have applied to all local authorities since May 2002, include provisions relating to the proper use of an authority's resources.
Mr. Leslie: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister will shortly be consulting on the Government's proposals for the funding of local authorities revenue expenditure in 200304. It would probably be impossible to arrange a meeting with every individual authority which would ideally like one. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has therefore suggested to authorities that it would be helpful if they could make any representations as part of broader delegations, for example on the basis of special interest groups. If particular authorities judge that their case cannot be made effectively in this way, requests for individual meetings will be considered.
Mr. Raynsford: Following the 1972 reorganisation, a number of unitary authorities were established in England during the 1990's. The information requested on these reorganisations is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost. Nevertheless supplementary credit approvals (SCAs) were given to authorities affected by reorganisation to enable them to borrow money to meet the one off indirect costs of reorganisation. The SCAs to all reorganised authorities in England totalled £492.3 million.
Mr. Cousins: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many (a) new home (i) starts and (ii) completions and (b) demolitions there were in each quarter from 1996 to the most recent available date in the City of Newcastle upon Tyne. 
Mr. McNulty: The number of new dwellings started and completed in the City of Newcastle upon Tyne is shown in the following table. Available information on demolitions is that the local authority reported 612 dwellings demolished in the financial year 200102.
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Mr. Raynsford: The targets are contained in the agreements, copies of which have been placed in the Library. The targets are also summarised for each authority on the Local PSA web site. The address of this web site is: http://www.local-regions.odpm.gov.uk/lpsa/index.htm.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what funding or authorisation for spending will be provided for yes and no campaigns in regions which decide to hold a referendum on regional assemblies. 
Mr. Raynsford: This is a matter for the Electoral Commission under the provisions of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 (sections 108110 and schedule 12). The Government will not fund any Xyes" or Xno" campaigns.
Mr. Edward Davey: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister which national bodies accountable to Government operate on a (a) wholly and (b) partial regional basis; and in each case to which regional government office they report. 
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Mr. Leslie: As set out in annex C of the White Paper Your Region, Your Choice (Cm 5511; annexes updated in August 2002), apart from the Government Offices, there can be up to four main types of government presence in a region:
national non-departmental public bodies ('quangos') with local or regional offices (such as English Nature or the Prescription Pricing Authority);
regional non-departmental public bodies (such as the Regional Developmental Agencies);
local organisations located in a region (such as port authorities).
Mr. Leslie: In the year to 31 March 2002, the South West England Development Agency employed an average of 197 people, serving the whole of the region. There are approximately 12 staff, based in Taunton, working nearly exclusively in support of the agenda of the South West Regional Assembly. The SWRA secretariat also supports the work of two other regional organisations: the South West Local Government Association and the South West Provincial Employers. Staff work flexibly across all three parts.
Matthew Taylor: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what recent evaluations have been undertaken of the effectiveness of the Regional Co-ordination Unit and Government Office network; and if he will make a statement. 
Mrs. Roche : The Government Offices contribute to the delivery of the programmes of a number of different Government Departments and these are set out in the Corporate Plan for the Regional Co-ordination Unit and Government Office network. Performance against the Corporate Plan is monitored quarterly and the outcomes reported to sponsor Departments.
Mrs. Roche: Local authorities are responsible for homelessness in their areas and as such also take responsibility for the co-ordination and timing of street counts. It is the policy of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister that in areas where more than 10 people are sleeping rough, a count should take place at least every twelve months. This would apply to any local authority areas in Bristol or Somerset.
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Mr. Raynsford: The Government received around 55,000 letters from the public relating to the Formula Grant Review, the great majority of these are the result of various campaigns that have been organised. One such campaign was organised by the F40 Group of local authorities, of which Staffordshire is a constituent authority, on education funding and produced approximately 53,000 responses in total.
The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister do not record the details of the senders of campaign letters as a matter of course. For this reason, and since very many from the F40 campaign are multiple copies of the same letter by the same people to different Ministers, it is not possible to provide a more precise answer, except at disproportionate cost.
The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is currently taking decisions on the new system to replace SSAs, carefully considering the full range of evidence, pressures and points that have been put to us. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister will announce its proposals for the new system to Parliament at the time of the next provisional local government finance settlement, which it expects will be around the beginning of December 2002.
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