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3 Dec 2002 : Column 700Wcontinued
Mr. Paul Marsden: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will place in the Library e-mails containing advice given by his officials to the Fire Services Employers since the beginning of 2002 regarding the pay dispute with the Fire Brigades Union. 
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to buy in the last five years; how many new homes have been built by (a) local authorities and (b) registered social landlords in the last five years; and how many people were classified as homeless in each of the last five years. 
|Local authority sales of stock under RTB||41,330||40,270||54,250||52,380||51,970||240,200|
|New build by Las||320||190||100||390||110||1,110|
|New build by RSLs||21,400||18,920||17,360||16,610||14,370||88,660|
|Homeless households accepted as eligible, unintentionally homeless and in priority need by LAs||102,650||104,150||106,130||114,350||118,360||545,640|
Homeless decisions made under the 1996 Housing Act, plus any residual 1985 Housing Act cases, reflect households accepted as eligible, unintentionally homeless and in priority need.
RTB: DTLR/ODPM housing activity return P1B (quarterly).
New build: DTLR/ODPM housing activity return P2 (monthly).
Homelessness: DTLR/ODPM housing activity return PIE (quarterly).
Mr. Eric Pickles: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister (1) what effect the abolition of section 24(3) of the Housing Act 1985 as it relates to England will have on the level of public sector and regulated rents; what the Government's rent restructuring policy is; and what the effect will be on the landlord's ability to repair property subject to regulated rent where rent increases are held below the rate of inflation; 
(3) what assessment he has made of the impact that the changes proposed to the Social Security Administration Act 1992, relating to the rent rebate subsidy limitation on those local authorities where housing rents are above a certain level as described on page 41 of the explanatory memorandum of the Local Government Bill; and based on the present criteria, how many more affordable houses could potentially be built if all rents were allowed to rise to market levels; 
(4) what reason the Government is seeking to repeal subsection 7 of section 140B of the Social Security Administration Act 1992 to give him additional powers to determine the level of rent rebate subsidy, rent allowance subsidy and council tax benefit subsidy; and whether local authorities will be required to provide information on these subsidies to the (a) ODPM and (b) Department of Work and Pensions. 
Mr. McNulty: The Government's rent restructuring policy aims to achieve a more coherent and fairer structure of social rents, while keeping rents affordable and well below market levels. Over the next ten years, social landlords are being encouraged to move their rents towards a common rents formula, which links rents to relative property values, local manual earnings levels, and property sizes.
We believe that the arrangements are fair both to landlords and tenants. We shall be reviewing the implementation of rent restructuring after three years. We have no proposals for a rent restructuring authority. The level of social sector rents is a matter for local authorities and registered social landlords, taking account of rent restructuring policies.
The effective repeal of Section 24(3) of the Housing Act 1985 in England is not expected to have any significant effect on the level of public sector rents. Section 24(3) applies only to local authorities and requires them to have regard, when setting their rents, to the pattern of private sector rents. This might, towards the end of the ten year rent restructuring period, have impacted marginally on an authority's ability to set rents in line with the rents formula.
The changes proposed in the Local Government Bill to the Social Security Administration Act 1992 will not affect the policy of rent rebate subsidy limitation, which will continue to operate in line with our rent restructuring policy as now.
The repeal to subsection 7 of section 1406 of the Social Security Administration Act 1992 would not confer any additional powers on my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister. This subsection made unclear the true extent of my rt. hon Friend the Deputy Prime Minister's powers in relation to determining subsidies and we believe it should be repealed. Authorities will be required to provide information to the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) in relation to rent allowance subsidy and council tax subsidy. In relation to rent rebate subsidy, and in particular rent rebate subsidy limitation, authorities may be required to submit information to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister in England (ODPM), or the National Assembly in Wales (NAW), who could pass this information to the DWP along with representations as to the form of rent rebate subsidy limitation formulae. This would be possible as an alternative to requiring authorities to send that information directly to the DWP. It is not intended that authorities should have to provide the same information to both the DWP and the ODPM/ NAW.
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Mr. Drew: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister (1) if he will make a statement on the relationship between local authorities and tenant management organisations with specific reference to those local authorities seeking to pursue a large scale voluntary transfer of their stocks; 
Mr. McNulty: The Housing Transfer Guidance 2002 Programme required that all existing and developing Tenant Management Organisations should be fully consulted at an early stage of the local authorities' investment appraisal process.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister (1) if he will make a statement on the impact on rents in sheltered accommodation owned by local authorities of its introduction of Supporting People; 
Mr. McNulty: Local authority rents are set in accordance with the Government's policy on rent re-structuring. From April 2003 any costs in respect of support services will require to be separately identified and will not be eligible for Housing Benefit. Authorities are being awarded Supporting People grant on the basis of relevant expenditure at 31 March 2003, uplifted by funding stream specific inflation factors.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the split between housing revenue account and supporting people budget, with specific reference to local authority sheltered accommodation from April 2003 onwards. 
Mr. McNulty: Under proposals contained in the consultation paper XA New Financial Framework for Local Authority Housing: Resource Accounting in the Housing Revenue Account", the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister sought views on the options of accounting for the new Supporting People grant in either the housing revenue account or in the general fund. We will publish the outcome of that consultation very soon.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how transitional housing benefit will operate in the case of local authority sheltered accommodation with specific reference to those authorities that have previously used rate fund moneys. 
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Mr. McNulty: The Supporting People programme will transfer transitional housing benefit and a number of other housing related funding streams to a new grant. Rate fund moneys are not among these funding streams.
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