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30 Jan 2003 : Column 1017W—continued

Right to Buy

Mr. Chope: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what consultations have been carried out in determining the objective data from which the Government has derived the high demand indicator for the purposes of reducing maximum right to buy discounts. [93993]

Mr. McNulty: None. Two measures were used: homelessness and house prices. The sources of the homelessness data were statistical surveys of local authority housing departments, routinely conducted by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister:

House prices were obtained from the Land Registry and can reasonably be assumed to reflect market prices since sales below market value were excluded.

Mr. Chope: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will place in the Library the evidence he has collated that the Right to Buy has been abused in the borough of Christchurch. [93994]

Mr. McNulty: The report of the research by Heriot-Watt University into the scale, nature and impact of exploitation of the Right to Buy policy will be published shortly. It did not find any exploitation in the borough of Christchurch, but the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is minded to reduce the maximum Right to Buy discount in this area because it is under great housing pressure as evidenced by a high local incidence of homelessness and high local house prices.

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Mr. Chope: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will extend beyond 5 February the deadline for responses from Christchurch Borough Council to his letter about right to buy discounts. [94441]

Mr. McNulty: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister wrote on 22 January 2003 to all the local authorities affected by our announcement that day on Right to Buy discounts, giving them the opportunity to present a case for their areas to be excluded. All views and comments on the announcement received on or before 5 February 2003 will be given careful consideration.

Mr. Chope: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister when the letters about reduction of right to buy discounts were despatched to (a) Christchurch Borough Council and (b) Twynham Housing Association. [94442]

Mr. McNulty: Letters informing Christchurch Borough Council and Twynham Housing Association of my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister's announcement about reducing right to buy discounts, and seeking their views, were despatched during the afternoon of Wednesday 22 January 2003.

Housing Stock Transfers

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister when he expects to receive the National Audit Office report on council stock transfers; and whether his review of council housing finances will be published before he has received the report. [93327]

Mr. McNulty: The timetable for the National Audit Office's report has yet to be finalised. However it is scheduled for consideration by the Public Accounts Committee of this House on 31 March.

The statement by my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister on the Government's comprehensive long term programme for sustainable communities, including housing, will be made shortly.

Housing Corporation

Mr. Burnett: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the annual Government funding to the Housing Corporation was in each year since 1991–92; what the projected annual Government funding for the Housing Corporation is for (a) 2002–03, (b) 2003–04 and (c) 2004–05; and what has been and will be the allocation of these moneys for these years for the South West Region. [94416]

Mr. McNulty: The Housing Corporation's total approved development programme (ADP) outturn for each year since 1991–92 is tabled as follows:

£ million

ADPOf which South West ADP


1. These figures exclude expenditure on all Housing Corporation revenue programme and administration and other capital programmes including Rough Sleepers Initiative, Major Repairs Initiative, Estate Renewal Challenge Fund.

2. Figures for South West Region prior to 1995–96 are not available. Prior to this date the South West region was not a separate entity within the Housing Corporation regional structure.

30 Jan 2003 : Column 1019W

My right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister will be making a statement shortly about how the additional funding in the 2002 Spending Review will be used; it will include figures for 2004–05.

Local Government Finance

Mr. Beith: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will (a) list and (b) quantify those factors in the local government finance formula which determined the increase proposed for (i) Berwick-on-Tweed Borough and (ii) Teesdale District. [93263]

Mr. Raynsford: Berwick-on-Tweed received an increase of 5.6 per cent. in Formula Spending Share (FSS) in the provisional settlement compared to 2002–03, to £135 per head. For Teesdale, these figures were 15.6 per cent. and £136 respectively. After their ability to raise council tax is taken into account, this gives grant increases for Berwick of 3 per cent. (the floor) and Teesdale 12.5 per cent. (the ceiling).

Many indicators have been removed, replaced, or updated in the EPCS Formula Review, and it is difficult to quantify every impact of the formula changes on each district.

Teesdale gains significantly and Berwick loses from the formula no longer taking account of overnight visitors. Both districts lose FSS from the removal of the old housing deprivation indictors (less so for Teesdale) and the lower sparsity weighting. Teesdale gains from the lower weighting for numbers on income support, but loses slightly due to an estimated population decline after the 2001 Census.

Mr. Waterson: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many representations he has received from (a) individuals and (b) organisations in (i) East Sussex and (ii) Eastbourne relating to changes to grant distribution. [93495]

Mr. Leslie: The number of representations we have received since the Government published the consultation paper on the Formula Grant Review on 8 July 2002, is tabled as follows.

Formal response to the Formula Grant ReviewFormal response to the provisional local government finance settlement 2003–04Other
East Sussex County Council22
Eastbourne Borough Council1
Hastings Borough Council11
Lewes District Council1
Rother Borough Council1
Wealden Borough Council1
East Sussex Fire Brigade12
Sussex Police Authority11
From MPs on behalf of East Sussex24414
From MPs on behalf of Eastbourne2
From members of public in East Sussex76
From members of public in Eastbourne9

30 Jan 2003 : Column 1020W

In addition a number of letters were received from schools in the above area concerning the funding of education which were passed to the Department for Education and Skills for reply.

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will list by local authority the funding per head of population for social services departments under the terms of the provisional settlement for 2003–04. [93975]

Mr. Raynsford : A table showing the Personal Social Services Formula Spending Share (PSS FSS), the mid-2001 population estimate and the PSS FSS per head by local authority has been placed in the Library of the House.

The FSS amounts are not cash. Instead they are used in the distribution of formula grant to local authorities. Formula grant is unhypothecated. FSSs are not spending targets, authorities are free to set their own budgets subject to local spending priorities.

Public Toilets

Mr. Ben Chapman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will issue guidelines to local authorities on the closure of public lavatories; and if he will commission research into the change in the number of public lavatories over the last five years. [93695]

Mr. Leslie: Local authorities are free to determine the provision of public toilets according to local circumstances. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has no plans to introduce guidelines on the closure of public toilets or commission research on their provision.

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