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Yvette Cooper: The Government's initial response to Kate Barker's report was provided by my right hon. Friends the Chancellor and the Deputy Prime Minister alongside the Budget on 17 March 2004. We said then that we intend to bring forward a package of measures to address the recommendations of the Barker review by the end of 2005.
Kate Barker's proposals build on the approach adopted in the communities plan, launched by my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister in February 2003. Her analysis have reinforced our case and strategy for more homes to address rising demand. In particular, the Government have accepted Kate Barker's central recommendation that there should be a step change in housing supply.
In advance of the wider package, and in response to one of Kate Barker's recommendations, the Government consulted last year on proposals to strengthen regional integration by bringing together regional planning bodies and regional housing boards and to provide the merged bodies with independent advice. In the pamphlet Extending Home Ownership", launched by my right hon. Friends the Deputy Prime Minister and the Chancellor on 25 May, we confirmed that the merger of regional planning bodies and regional housing boards would go ahead. We also said that we would shortly announce further details about how independent evidence and analysis to support regional planning bodies would be strengthened.
In the 2004 spending review, we made a start on infrastructure investment in creating a community infrastructure fund, as recommended by Kate Barker. An extra £50 million in 200607 and £150 million in 200708 will be available to finance transport projects needed to sustain housing growth. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor also allocated funds which, with additional PFI funding and efficiency gains, aim to provide an extra 10,000 new homes for social let annually by 200708.
Mr. Woolas: The rate used to calculate business rate bills is set nationally. For 200405, the rate was 0.456. Bills for that year were calculated by multiplying this rate by the rateable value of the particular business hereditament and applying any reliefs.
Mr. Dismore: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what assessment he has made of the effect of buy-to-let on the cost and availability of private rented accommodation in London; and if he will make a statement. 
Yvette Cooper: The Government have not carried out any studies into the impact of 'buy-to-let'. It is not easily assessed, although the mortgage lenders have produced some detailed statistics. 'Buy to let' mortgages as a proportion of all mortgages has risen nationally from 2 per cent. in 1999 to 9 per cent. in the second half of 2004. However, their impact on the London housing market has been generally declining (from almost 7 per cent. early 2001 when data was first collected), and in 200405 accounted for 3.9 per cent. of mortgages.
So far 'buy to let' has not led to a significant growth in the size of the private rented sector. However, inasmuch as it has led to more and better quality property coming onto the market it will have had a favourable impact on the cost and availability of private rented accommodation.
Sarah Teather: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what estimate he has made of (a) the number of families with children and (b) the number of children in (i) temporary accommodation, (ii) non-decent accommodation and (iii) overcrowded accommodation. 
Yvette Cooper: Information reported each quarter by local authorities about their activities under homelessness legislation includes the number of households in temporary accommodation on the last day of the quarter, distinguishing those that include dependent children or a pregnant woman, and the numbers of children. On 31 December 2004 it is estimated that there were 72,800 such households in England, containing some 125,000 children or expected children.
Based on information collected through the English House Condition Survey, in 2001 there were an estimated 1,736,000 households containing some 3,123,000 children under 16 years of age living in non-decent homes. Since then there has been further progress towards the Government's decent homes target. Already the number of non-decent homes in the social sector has dropped by 1 million since 1997.
From information derived from the Survey of English Housing for 200304 it is estimated there were 360,000 households containing 845,000 dependent children living in conditions regarded as overcrowded in relation to the bedroom standard.
Sarah Teather: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister which regions have conducted training exercises to assess contingency plans, as proposed by the Civil Resilience Directorate; and if he will make a statement. 
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many full-time equivalent staff have been employed by his Department's Press Office in each year since its creation; and if he will list the responsibilities of each current staff member. 
|As at April:||Number|
|Number of sites reported by local authorities||Estimated total area (hectares)|
|Yorkshire and the Humber||495||2,960|
|East of England||182||2,310|
Jim Fitzpatrick: Table A provides combined LEA and school based expenditure per pupil for each London borough from 19992000 to 200304. This does not take into account non school-based education e.g. adult/community education.
|301||Barking and Dagenham||3,110||3,260||3,750||3,950||4,470|
|201||City of London||9,720||7,780||7,580||9,090||9,790|
|205||Hammersmith and Fulham||3,920||4,020||4,530||4,460||5,290|
|207||Kensington and Chelsea||4,540||4,510||4,850||5,010||5,650|
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