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12 Mar 2003 : Column 329W—continued

Sustainable Communities

Mr. Hammond: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will define the term key worker as used in "Sustainable Communities: Building for the Future". [98576]

Mr. McNulty: For the purposes of "Sustainable Communities: Building for the Future", the Government has targeted key workers in the public sector. Wider housing policies to increase the supply of affordable homes, particularly in areas where demand is high, will benefit other key workers.

Vera Baird: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what is intended by his statement that "We will work with partners in the Tees Valley who are tackling the issue of market failure, in the implementation of the Tees Valley Housing Strategy" in the document "Sustainable Communities in the North East". [97213]

Mr. McNulty: The North East Communities Plan recognises the valuable work currently under way across the region addressing housing and wider community issues. Among the examples selected to give a flavour of this activity is the important work of the stakeholders in the Tees Valley sub-region to address market failure. Furthermore, the problem of market failure has been recognised as a key issue in a draft regional housing strategy, prepared by the North East Housing Forum. It is likely therefore that this will be a priority for the new North East Housing Board to address.

The Board will address this and other housing issues through the Regional Housing Strategy which it has been tasked to submit to Ministers by July 2003. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister will be looking to partners across the region, including Tees Valley, to come forward with proposals for the Board to consider.

Vera Baird: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister in what way the announcements in the document "Sustainable Communities in the North East" support housing renewal in Redcar and Cleveland. [97214]

Mr. McNulty: "Sustainable Communities in the North East" recognises that 20 per cent. of the housing stock in the region is at risk from low or changing patterns of demand, including Redcar and Cleveland in Teesside. One of the key announcements is the establishment of a Regional Housing Board. The North East Regional Housing Board will address the national priorities of bringing social housing into decent condition and to take action to tackle low demand. This is in line with the national priorities set out in "Sustainable Communities: Building for the Future".

Nationally we are making available £2.8 billion to improve council housing and £500 million to tackle low demand and abandonment over the next three years. As from 2004–05 we will be bringing together the Housing Corporation's Approved Development Programme and local authority Housing Investment Programme into a new single pot for housing capital investment. The Board will advise Ministers on the allocation of this new single pot so that investment is targeted more effectively on regional and local priorities.

The national plan also identifies tools and actions to tackle low demand more widely, including: building on existing regeneration programmes such as

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Neighbourhood Renewal Fund and New Deal for Communities; proposals to speed up compulsory purchase of land and property; increasing the minimum payments made to people whose homes are compulsorily purchased under the 'Home Loss' scheme from £1,500 to £2,600; legislating to allow local authorities to license private landlords in low demand areas; and launching a new EU approved 'Gap Funding' housing scheme to pump prime regeneration in deprived areas.

Vera Baird: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what extra resources the Department will make available in 2003–04 for housing renewal in (a) Redcar and Cleveland and (b) Teesside. [97217]

Mr. McNulty: The bulk of Government support for local authorities housing capital spend is provided through the Major Repairs Allowance (MRA), which is ring-fenced for use on council housing, and the housing Annual Capital Guideline (ACG). The housing ACG, which is allocated as part of the Single Capital Pot, provides support for either improvements to existing housing (council or private sector) or provision of new affordable housing.

Redcar and Cleveland's housing ACG for 2003–04 is £2 million; the total for the five Tees Valley authorities (Redcar and Cleveland, Middlesbrough, Hartlepool, Darlington and Stockton on Tees) for 2003–04 amounts to £10.6 million. These figures are not directly comparable with allocations for 2002–03 as they no longer include an element assumed to be funded from authorities useable capital receipts. After taking account of this change, resources going to Tees Valley are estimated to have increased by 5–10 per cent.

Redcar and Cleveland no longer receives an MRA as the council housing stock transferred to Coast and County Housing in July 2002. The 2003–04 MRA allocations for other Tees Valley authorities total £21.3 million. These are formula-based allocations that depend on the number and type of dwellings owned by the council.

It should also be noted that the provisions of the Regulatory Reform Order on Housing Renewal, which came into force on 6 June 2002, gave local authorities much greater discretion on how they can provide assistance for housing renewal.

Lastly, HIP resources are only a part of the resources made available by Government to tackle issues of deprivation, including housing. Most notably £35.3 million is available to Tees Valley authorities under the Neighbourhood Renewal Fund (including £7.8 million for Redcar and Cleveland) and Hartlepool and Middlesbrough both benefit from New Deal for Communities moneys. The latter amounts to £52 million in West Middlesbrough and £54 million in Hartlepool, of which £12.5 million and £10.5 million respectively are earmarked for housing and environment spend.


Ms Bridget Prentice: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the impact of

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the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999 on local authority and housing association tenancies. [96592]

Mr. McNulty: We expect all local authorities and Registered Social Landlords (commonly known as housing associations) to take these regulations into account when issuing tenancy agreements to their tenants. I am not aware that the regulations have had any particular impact on these tenancies.


Miss McIntosh: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what plans he has under the new provisions to move travellers on immediately from unauthorised sites where authorised sites are provided by the local authority. [98066]

Mr. McNulty: The Government are proposing to introduce new police powers to move on illegal Gypsy and Traveller camps. The details of how this will work are currently being worked up by the Home Office, and no legislative vehicle has yet been identified to take this forward.

This new power is not intended to replace existing legislation currently in place under sections 61 to 62 and 77 to 79 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, which enables local authorities and police forces to move illegal encampments. This will remain alongside the new power.

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Ambition Construction Initiative

Mr. Brazier: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what preliminary information is available from conducting the Ambition Construction Initiative pilots; [98015]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: Since June 2002, we have launched six Ambition Construction pilots to help unemployed and disadvantaged people gain the right skills to meet the needs of employers in the construction industry.

The pilots are in their early stages and it is too soon to draw conclusions about their performance. However, initial indications are that there is a strong commitment from employers and training providers to making the programme a success. We are monitoring the pilots closely and are working in partnership with the contractors and employers to ensure that the needs of the construction industry are being met and the job opportunities available to participants are maximised.

The table identifies the location of the six pilots, the contracts awarded and the period they cover.

Pilot locationHost agentsPeriod of contract
Nottingham City Wide Construction June 2002-June 2005
Greater Merseyside Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council July 2002-July 2005
Greater Manchester Manchester Economic and Regeneration PartnershipJune 2002-June 2005
Leeds and Bradford Leeds City CouncilJune 2002-June 2005
Coventry and Warwickshire CovWise Ltd. Sept 2002-Aug 2005
Paddington Carillion Construction Training Sept 2002-Sept 2005

The contracting timetable for Ambition Construction sought for delivery of contracts to begin on 24 June 2002. Extended contract negotiations led to delays in the Merseyside, and Coventry and Warwickshire pilots. In Paddington, a delay followed the withdrawal of the initial training provider and a re-tendering of the contract. Despite these delays, all pilots are successfully up and running and are contracted to run for a full three years.

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