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12 Dec 2002 : Column 485W—continued


Abandoned Vehicles

Margaret Moran: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister whether he intends to introduce measures to enable local authorities to remove abandoned vehicles from private land. [86426]

Mr. Meacher: I have been asked to reply.

Local authorities are already under a duty (Section 3(1) of the Refuse Disposal (Amenity) Act 1978) to remove a vehicle which is abandoned in their area on any land in the open air or on any other land forming part of a highway.

For vehicles abandoned on private land, the local authority enters onto the land using their powers under section 8(1) of the Refuse Disposal (Amenity) Act 1978. They then serve on the landowner or the occupier a 15 day notice requiring them to remove the vehicle. If no representations are received then the local authority can remove the vehicle following the expiry of the 15 day period. Objections to the notice must be made by the landowner or occupier to the Chief Officer at the local authority within the 15 day period and the landowner or occupier must outline their reasons why they consider that the vehicle is not abandoned. If the local authority accepts the representations then the vehicle can remain on the land. If the local authority rejects the representations they will then remove the vehicle.

We intend to consult in the New Year on reducing the statutory notice periods for vehicles abandoned on private land.

Area Cost Adjustment

Mr. Michael Foster: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister in the Local Government Finance Report (England) 2003–04, what earnings figure was used to calculate the area cost adjustment for each local authority and for each category as listed in Annex H, page 84. [87019]

Mr. Leslie: The Area Cost Adjustment uses data drawn from the New Earnings Surveys for 1999, 2000 and 2001. A full methodology guide to how this data is used, with the results for each area of the country, has been published on the office of the Deputy Prime

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Minister's website A copy has also been placed in the Library of the House.

Hugh Bayley: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if the area cost adjustments for (a) local education authority education, (b) police, (c) general local government and (d) other local services are calculated on the same basis; and if he will place in the Library the formula for calculating area cost adjustment weightings and the weightings derived from the formula for (i) each local authority area receiving area cost adjustment, (ii) the City of York and (iii) North Yorkshire county council. [87159]

Mr. Leslie: The method for calculating the labour and business rate elements of the area cost adjustment is the same for all local government services. What varies between services is the proportion of total costs assumed to relate to labour and business rates respectively. A full methodology guide has been placed in the Library of the House. The resulting area costs factors for all authorities are published in annex H of the draft Local Government Finance Report, which was placed in the Vote Office and the Library of the House on 5 December 2002. The City of York and North Yorkshire county council do not receive an area cost top-up.

Cabinet Office (Spring Supplementary Estimate)

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the uses of the additions to net provisions for the Cabinet Office under the RfR1—heading in the Cabinet Office Spring Supplementary Estimate, February 2002 (Cm 5354); and if he will make a statement. [86280]

Mr. Alexander: I have been asked to reply.

The change in net provision in RfRl-A arises from a number of transactions including: machinery of government transfers between Cabinet Office and the Home Office, the Department for Education and Skills and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport; other transfers between Cabinet Office and other Departments, for example, for fast steam recruitment; the draw down of resource from the DEL reserve; and intra-departmental adjustments. Details of the uses of the additions to sub head Al are shown in the introduction to the Spring Supplementary Estimate.

Compulsory Purchase

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what plans he has to give councils greater powers compulsorily to purchase houses that remain empty for long periods; and if he will make a statement. [86713]

Mr. McNulty: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has no plans to give local authorities greater powers to enable them to compulsorily purchase houses that remain empty for long periods. However, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is considering proposals to enable them to take over the management of long-term empty residential properties. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister will make a statement in due course.

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Fire Dispute

Andrew Selous: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister pursuant to his answer of 2 December, ref 84214, what proportion of a pay offer to the firefighters in excess of 4 per cent.will be met by local authorities; and who will pay transitional costs. [86660]

Mr. Raynsford: As made clear in my answer to the hon. Member on 2 December 2002, Official Report, column 629W. any pay award, not affordable within existing public expenditure, must be paid for by modernisation. The Position Paper by the Independent Review of the Fire Service set out a clear programme of reform and modernisation in the Fire Service, which would lead to significant extra resources being freed up, which could lead to increases in firefighters' pay.

The first step is for the employers and the Fire Brigades Union to agree how those savings can be generated, and over what timescale. There is no point speculating about transitional costs at this stage.


Mr. Drew: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister whether the Government will meet the costs currently borne by those tenants not eligible for housing benefit through rent pooling following its introduction of Supporting People (a) for all tenants and (b) for those in sheltered accommodation. [86812]

Mr. McNulty: The Government is making additional funds available to meet a proportion of the costs of support that have identified as a result of the un-pooling of support costs from housing revenue accounts. After the introduction of Supporting People tenants who currently pay their own support costs, including those in sheltered accommodation will continue to do so. Any transitional relief for tenants not eligible for housing benefit will be met from the Housing Revenue Account, where an authority decides to provide such relief.

Mr. Drew: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the Government's recent announcement of maintenance and management allowances for council housing, with specific reference to the outcome for Stroud District Council. [86813]

Mr. McNulty: Stroud District Council's management and maintenance (M&M) allowances have for many years been higher than their long term M&M targets.

Authorities in this position have had their allowances reduced gradually over a number of years to bring them towards their targets without imposing sudden very large drops in allowances. For 2003–04, we are proposing that Stroud's managementallowance will be set at #309.08, or 98 per cent. of last year's allowance, so that they will be 2 per cent. over their 2003–04 management target of #301.77. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister proposes an increase of 4.7 per cent. in their maintenance allowance to #533.33, so that their allowance will be just below their new maintenance target of #533.37. In aggregate this represents an increase in their allowances of some 2.15 per cent.

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The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has announced national average real increases of 6 per cent. for both management and maintenance allowances for 2004–05 and 2005–06. Together with changes to take account of rent restructuring, this is equivalent to an average cash increase of #268 per dwelling by the second year.

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is currently reviewing the allocation of management and maintenance allowances to ensure this new money is shared out as fairly as possible between authorities, while avoiding unnecessary complexity. It is

therefore not possible to say what the outcome for any individual authority will be insubsequent years.

Ms Oona King: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister when he will publish the Survey of English Housing 2001–02. [86820]

Mr. McNulty: Some of the key findings from the 2001–02 survey were published on 20 August in XHousing Statistics Summary No. 13" a copy of which was placed in the libraries of the House. Since then tables have been produced for individual users on request. It is planned to publish a large batch of tables on the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's website on 20 December 2002. A printed report will be published later in 2003, when the results have been updated to take account of population figures from the 2001 Census. (Results produced so far have been provisional in that the household figures used to gross the survey data have been estimates based to some extent on the 1991 Census.)

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