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Housing (Disabled People)

Gregory Barker: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister (1) what representations he has received on the draft consultation on the guidance to local authorities on best practice in the organisation and delivery of a housing adaptations service for disabled people; [197587]

(2) what plans he has for legislation to simplify the way in which grant aid for disabled adaptations are managed; [197588]
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(3) what plans he has for legislation to end means testing as an instrument to assess applications for grant aid for disabled adaptations; [197589]

(4) how much was spent on disabled facilities grants in each of the last 10 years; [197590]

(5) what the average waiting time between assessment and completion has been in each local authority for people requesting disabled adaptations in their homes in the last 10 years. [197591]

Keith Hill: The consultation period for the delivering adaptations consultation documents ended in May 2003, 69 responses were received. The final version of the document "Delivering Housing Adaptations for Disabled People: A Good Practice Guide" was published on 3 November and copies are available in the Library of the House.

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, jointly with the Department of Health and the Department for Education and Skills is undertaking a comprehensive review of the DFG programme. The review will look the operation and outcomes of the Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG) Programme and make proposals to improve its efficiency and fairness. This will include a review of the DFG means test. The review will report to Ministers in May 2005.

The Regulatory Reform (Housing Assistance) (England & Wales) Order 2002 came into force on 18 July 2002, and provides local housing authorities with wide discretionary powers to provide assistance for the repair, improvement or adaptations of housing. These powers can be used to provide additional help with adaptations over and above the mandatory entitlements under the DFG legislation.

Total Disabled Facilities Grant payments to local authorities in England by the Government over the last ten years are:
£ million

The Government does not collect data on the average waiting time for a DFG.

Landfill Allowance Trading Scheme

Dr. Starkey: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister pursuant to the Answer of 28 October 2004, Official Report, column 1323W, on the Landfill Allowance Trading Scheme, if he will list the range of measures in place to support local authorities with above average population growth in meeting the Landfill Allowance Trading Scheme targets; and which local authorities are involved in meetings with officials from his Department and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs about the Landfill Allowance Trading Scheme. [195830]

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Mr. Morley: I have been asked to reply.

Defra's Waste Implementation Programme Local Authority Support Unit has identified a number of common waste management issues where support is needed. Support includes guidance on waste composition analysis; a report of Household Waste Recycling Centre sites in England; an assessment of these sites as a resource and the infrastructure requirements for compliance with the WEEE Directive; good practice guidance on bulky waste management; procurement and bulky waste toolkits; good practice case studies on waste collection and bring systems; and the new recyclables capture toolkit. This information can be found on the Local Authority Support website address

In addition the Local Authority Support Unit invited all local authorities to apply for targeted support to help them deal with specific local barriers to improved recycling performance. The scheme has had an excellent response and the Local Authority Support Unit and WRAP's ROTATE programme are providing consultancy support to 317 authorities in England. This support places considerable emphasis on strategic partnerships but also includes help with providing procurement expertise and waste composition analysis, tackling bulky goods, developing estates schemes and increasing diversion rates at Household Waste Recycling Centres.

The Spending Review 2004 included an overall increase in EPCS of £1.2 billion over 2006–07 and 2007–08 reflecting in part increased costs of waste management arising from EU obligations. Local authorities will also benefit from an extra £275 million of PFI credits over the same period for long term investment. And funds available through the waste Performance Reward Grant will rise from £45 million to £105 million in 2006–07 and £110 million in 2007–08.

This support, although not directly targeted at authorities planning for above average population growth, will help those authorities move towards more sustainable waste management practices.

The Authorities involved in the meeting with officials from ODPM and Defra are—Milton Keynes city council, Buckinghamshire county council and the East London Waste Authority. Officials from Defra also meet local authority representative bodies to discuss the operation of the Landfill Allowances Trading Scheme on a regular basis through the scheme's Stakeholder Group.

Local Authority Settlements

Phil Sawford: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what steps he is taking to ensure that local authorities in the growth areas will receive a settlement for 2005–06 in line with the funding formula. [197855]

Mr. Raynsford: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer given to the right hon. Member for Sleaford and North Hykeham on 11 November 2004, Official Report, column 848W.
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Local Government Finance

Mr. Hogg: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will give local authorities more flexibility on how they spend grant support. [197498]

Mr. Raynsford: In 2004–05 the Government reduced the proportion of ring-fenced grant by a further 2 percentage points to 11.1 per cent., by "unfencing" seven grants, worth some £750 million. For non-schools areas of spending, we continue to seek to give local authorities as much freedom and flexibility as we can.

Education is a key national priority and the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister aims to give schools as much stability, freedom and flexibility in their funding as possible. We have already announced our proposals to provide, from 2006–07, funding for schools through a grant from the Department for Education and Skills to local authorities.

Details of the proposed funding allocations to each local authority will be announced as part of the provisional local government finance settlement.

Policy Changes (Worcester)

Mr. Michael Foster: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will set out, with statistical evidence relating as closely to the Worcester constituency, the effects of changes to his Department's policy since 1997 on the Worcester constituency. [197969]

Phil Hope: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is determined to develop policies to improve the lives of people across the UK, including the West Midlands.

In the local government finance settlements since the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister took office we have been able to increase the amount of Government grant given to local authorities by £19.1 billion. This is a 30 per cent. increase in real terms and compares with a 7 per cent. cut in the previous four years before 1997–98.

Worcester city council has received an average annual increase in formula grant since 1997 of 3.4 per cent. Residents of Worcester have also benefited from Worcestershire county council's average increase in grant of 4.6 per cent. each year over this time.

The transfer of local authority stock to Registered Social Landlords is one of the options for delivering the decent homes programme. Since 1997, Worcester city council has transferred its total stock of 4703 dwellings, of which 2034 were non-decent, to Worcester Community Housing, an RSL. Similarly, since 1997, within Worcestershire county council, Bromsgrove transferred its total stock of 3096 dwellings, of which 255 were non-decent, to Bromsgrove District Housing Trust Ltd, an RSL; and Wyre Forest transferred its total stock of 6056 dwellings to Wyre Forest Community Housing, an RSL.

This year the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has provided £15.9 million in Supporting People grant to Worcestershire county council, to enable it to deliver housing-related support services to vulnerable people in the area. Currently this provides over 17,000 dwellings of support to a range of people, including homeless families, older people, people with learning disabilities, and young people at risk.
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The Worcestershire Partnership was awarded a Liveability Fund grant worth a total of £3.4 million in March 2004. The Liveability Fund grant for Worcestershire includes funding for environmental service improvements and several park improvements in Worcester City.

The Neighbourhood Statistics Service provides a wide range of statistical information at parliamentary constituency level, taken from the 2001 Census and other sources. This service is available on the National Statistics website at

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