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4 Feb 2003 : Column 234W—continued

New Lettings

Ms Oona King : To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what time scale the Housing Corporation and the London boroughs are working within to agree a framework across London for the pooling of nominations for new lettings on a sub-regional basis; and if he will make a statement. [95143]

Mr. McNulty: The framework for new lettings will apply to all general needs new supply allocations from the Housing Corporation's 2003–04 Approved Development Programme (ADP). The details of the framework are being finalised by local authorities and it is hoped that agreement will be reached by 1 April 2003 or shortly thereafter, depending on when the ADP allocations are approved.


Mr. Lilley: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what information he has collated on the (a) rent charges for former council homes that are being let by private landlords and (b) rent levels for similar council-owned properties; and if he will make a statement. [94505]

Mr. McNulty: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister does not have any information on the rent charges for former council homes currently let by private landlords. However, such homes would be let at market rents.

Council rents are generally well below market rates, as a result of the subsidy Government pays to support council housing and the fact that authorities are not required to make a return on the capital employed. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's rent restructuring policy for England aims to keep rents affordable to tenants and well below market levels.

The following table shows the average rent levels for council homes in England by Government region from 1996 to 2002.

Local authority average weekly unrebated rents at the end of April each year in England

North East33.3734.1735.2836.7638.5440.4341.39
North West37.7038.3839.4940.5742.2444.2045.51
Yorkshire and the Humber31.4432.3633.6435.1136.9539.4441.22
East Midlands34.2035.6733.6738.0539.6641.4542.94
West Midlands37.0337.9638.8339.8241.3144.6845.27
South East45.9647.0548.3650.5551.9753.9855.86
South West40.8541.4542.4843.5944.9946.5547.89

Right to Buy

Mr. Edward Davey: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the changes to the Right to Buy in the London Boroughs of (a) Havering, (b) Barking and Dagenham and (c) Greenwich. [94215]

Mr. McNulty: The London Boroughs of Havering, Barking and Dagenham, and Greenwich are not among the 42 local authority areas with greatest pressure on their local housing markets mentioned in my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister's statement on 22 January 2003.

David Davis: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many people have bought homes under the right-to-buy scheme in (a) Haltemprice and Howden and (b) the East Riding of Yorkshire in each year for which figures are available since the scheme began. [94298]

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Mr. McNulty: Information is not available below local authority level. The available information reported by the former authorities comprising the East

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Riding of Yorkshire unitary authority and, from April 1996, by the authority itself, is in the table.

Reported right-to-buy sales in East Riding of Yorkshire: 1980–81 to June 2002

BeverleyEast YorkshireHoldernessBoothferryEast Riding of Yorkshire UA
1983–8422673 (3)830
1989–90198105 (2)930
1991–926942250 (2)
1995–96 49 (3)28 (3)2011 (3)
April to June 200283


Where there has not been full reporting, the figures in brackets indicate the number of quarters for which complete information is available within the financial year.


DOE/DETR/DTLR/ODPM quarterly P1B returns.

In addition to these reported right-to-buy sales, the former East Riding authorities recorded some 3,000 other council house sales, 2,150 of which were by Boothferry local council.

Travellers (Permanent Sites)

Bob Russell : To ask the Deputy Prime Minister by what date local authorities had to submit applications for financial support in the current financial year for the provision of permanent sites for travellers; how many local authorities made applications; how many were successful; what the total sum available for financial support was; and how much is unallocated. [93107]

Mr. McNulty: For the second round of the Gypsy Site Refurbishment Grant, £6 million has been made available to local authorities to help improve and maintain their existing sites. Applications to bid for grant for the 2002–03 financial year were received in January 2002. A total of 86 bids were received from 47 local authorities with 57 bids approved. The sum of the costs of projects approved was £8,112,613. The office of the Deputy Prime Minister will pay a maximum of £6,084,466 which is 75 per cent. of the total cost of approved projects.

Application forms for bids for the Gypsy Sites Refurbishment Grant 2003–04 were received on 13 of January 2003. A total of 92 applications were received from 53 local authorities in England. The bids are currently under assessment and results will be announced in March 2003.

The Gypsy Site Refurbishment Grant for 2003–04 covers funding for sites refurbishment as well as provision of transit and stopping place sites. The total amount of money available for both Schemes is £8 million.



Mr. Spring: To ask the Prime Minister what discussions the Prime Minister had with the Prime Minister of Spain at their meeting on 30 January, on Gibraltar; and if he will make a statement. [95628]

The Prime Minister: My discussions with Prime Minister Aznar during our meeting in Madrid on 30 January focused exclusively on Iraq.


Call Centres

Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what action his Department is taking in response to the National Audit Office report, Using call centres to deliver public services (HC 134); and if he will make a statement. [88449]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: The NAO report recommends that Departments should: ensure that planned improvements in efficiency and quality of service are

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achieved; adopt a portfolio approach to assessing quality of service; ensure that reliable information is available and regularly monitored to give assurance that services are delivered cost effectively; manage call centre resources to handle peaks and troughs in the volume of calls; and provide better information for the public on the services which they can obtain by telephone.

The Department welcomes this report. As far as the specific recommendations are concerned:

DWP is keen to develop and improve the service it gives its customers. With that in mind we have become foundation partners of the Call Centre Association and our central advisory team, working closely with the CCA, have developed a good practice framework for DWP centres and are developing the process through which our centres will be able to secure professional accreditation.

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