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13 Dec 2004 : Column 932W—continued

Gender Pay Gap

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what assessment he has made of the gender pay gap among staff in his Department. [202463]

Phil Hope: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (HQ) undertook an equal pay review in 2003. A summary was deposited in the Library of the House in April 2004. Equality issues continue to be considered as part of the annual pay reviews, and the position monitored following implementation of annual pay awards.

Government Offices for the Regions

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many staff are employed by the Government offices
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for the regions; and how many have been seconded from Government Departments, broken down by Department. [202978]

Phil Hope: All staff working in Government offices are employed by one of the Departments which conduct business through them. There are currently 3,114 staff working for the Government offices (including permanent staff, fixed term appointments, casuals and staff on maternity leave, career breaks etc.) employed by seven sponsor Departments are tabled as follows:
The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM)1,022
Department for Transport (DFT)210
Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)737
Department for Environment, Food and Rural
Affairs (DEFRA)
Department for Education and Skills (DFES)745
Home Office (HO)222
Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS)7

A further 564 staff are co-located in Government office accommodation but not fully integrated into the management structure are tabled as follows:
DepartmentNumber of staff co-located
DFES/Sure Start/Childrens Fund160
Department of Health265
Forestry Commission2
Cabinet Office/Government News Network90
Home Office37

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In addition there are 62 staff on short-term loan to Government offices from Government Departments and agencies:
Home Office9
Jobcentre Plus2
HM Prison Service1
The Countryside Agency4
English Nature1
Regional Public Health1
Highways Agency3
Customs and Excise1
Environment Agency1
Government News Network1
HM Treasury1


Ms Oona King: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many cash incentive scheme grants have been made in each Government office region in each year since 2001–02; and what the total value was of these grants in each region. [203137]

Keith Hill: The information reported by local authorities in each Government office region on the number of cash incentive scheme grants made in each year since 2001–02 and the total value of their grants are tabled as follows:

GrantsTotal spendGrantsTotal spendGrantsTotal spend
North East000000
Yorkshire and Humber3130018
East Midlands3116855
East of England915105330389317
South East658405383030682
South West432353921032388
West Midlands8325634682944
North West000000


Ms Oona King: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the London Housing Board's decision to invest £15 million for building new affordable housing outside London. [202923]

Keith Hill: The London's Housing Board's recommendations to Ministers for the allocation of housing investment in London for 2004–05 and 2005–06 included a proposal to develop cross regional mobility by investing £15–20 million of the £1.4 billion London Approved Development Programme (ADP) in affordable housing schemes in the East and South East regions in return for nominations to those schemes. Ministers agreed this proposal.

Mr. Drew: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the viability of the One+One+One policy for providing a mixture of housing for rent, for sale and shared ownership in rural exception sites. [203105]

Keith Hill: Local authorities should define in their local plans what they consider to be affordable housing in their area, in terms of the relationship between local incomes and house prices or rents. The rural exception
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policy in Planning Policy Guidance Note 3: "Housing" (PPG3) enables local authorities to grant permission for small sites solely for affordable housing for local needs in perpetuity. This policy ensures the deliverability of affordable housing in rural areas where the availability of land for development is more constrained than in urban areas. General market or mixed tenure schemes are therefore inappropriate for rural exception sites.

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's consultation paper "Influencing the size, type and affordability of housing" published in July last year proposed to add new policy to PPG3 which would ensure that the affordable housing provision sought should not make development unviable, and encouraged local planning authorities to work with developers to ensure planning objectives reflect the development potential of sites. The update to PPG3 will be published early in the new year.

Housing Corporation

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the (a) administrative and (b) total expenditure of the Housing Corporation was in 1997; and what the forecast expenditure is for (i) 2004–05 and (ii) 2005–06. [203556]

Keith Hill: As published in the Housing Corporation's annual accounts for 1997–98, their administrative expenditure in 1997–98 was £29 million and the total expenditure (including administration) was £l,328 million.

As at December 2004 the Housing Corporation's budget for administration is some £37 million in 2004–05 and 2005–06, out of total budgets of some £l,747 million and £l,723 million respectively. For 2005–06, these figures may be adjusted, for example following Regional Housing Board recommendations on the split of Regional Housing Pot resources.

Housing Stock

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the total council-owned housing stock is in each housing authority in England; and how many and what percentage of dwellings (a) are unfit and (b) meet the decent homes standard. [201796]

Keith Hill: Local authorities' estimates of the number of dwellings they own and that (a) are unfit and (b) meet the Decent Homes Standard have been made available in the Library of the House.

These figures are based on information provided by local authorities in the "Local Authority Housing Revenue Account Statistical Appendices—2004".

It should be noted that homes may meet the Fitness Standard but not the Decent Homes Standard.

To meet the Decent Homes Standard a home must meet the Fitness Standard, be in a reasonable state of repair, have reasonably modern facilities and services and provide a reasonable degree of thermal comfort.

Local Government

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister (1) under what provisions the retrospective switch in grant from North Yorkshire county council to London
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boroughs, Metropolitan boroughs and urban unitary authorities is being made; and what assessment he has made of the impact of the grant switch on the level of council tax raised by county councils for 2005–06; [203674]

(2) what guidance he will issue to county councils on transferring resources which have already been committed; [203675]

(3) if he will give an assurance to county councils that future budgetary resources and grants will not be diverted. [203676]

Mr. Raynsford: Amending Reports are made under section 84A of, and paragraph 13 of Schedule 8 to, the Local Government Finance Act 1988 ("the 1988 Act"). Section 84A of the 1988 Act was inserted by section 104 of, and paragraph 15 of Schedule 10 to, the Local Government Finance Act 1992. Paragraph 13 of Schedule 8 to the 1988 Act was substituted by section 104 of, and paragraph 7 of Schedule 10 to, the 1992 Act.

The Amending Report for 2003–04 calculates the amount of grant each authority would have received had the revised mid-year population estimates published by the Office of National Statistics on 9 September 2004 been available at the time of the 2003–04 Settlement.

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has always been clear that we would issue an amending report for the 2003–04 settlement to incorporate the revised 2001 population estimates. It is only fair that authorities should receive the correct amount of grant relative to the updated population estimates. Indeed we consulted on options for the 2003–04 and 2004–05 amending reports over the summer.

However, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister appreciates that it is not possible for authorities like North Yorkshire county council to reopen their budgets for 2003–04. For this reason we will pay, or recover, any changes in 2003–04 grant amounts during 2005–06; and we have amended the floor damping scheme for 2005–06 to ensure that all authorities should receive at least the floor increase in their formula grant after paying back any money owed under the 2003–04 Amending Report.

It was announced on 18 November 2004, Official Report, column 101WS that we would postpone making the 2004–05 Amending Report until next year in order to ensure that all possible revisions to the data used in the 2004–05 settlement will be included.

The Government announced its proposals for the local government settlement on 2 December. This ensures that all authorities will receive an above inflation grant increase for the third year running. Given this substantial investment in local government, the Government expects to see significantly lower council tax increases next year and expects the average council tax increase in England in 2005–06 to be less than 5 per cent. It is prepared to take even tougher capping action in 2005–06 than it did this year. This applies to all authorities, including fire and police authorities.

High council tax increases are a thing of the past. The Government will not tolerate excessive council tax increases either next year or in years to come.
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