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5 Jul 2005 : Column 300W—continued

Departmental Telecommunications

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many mobile phones his Department has (a) lost and (b) reported stolen since its establishment. [7439]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister was created on 29 May 2002. Information on mobile phones used by officials is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost. However, the number of mobile phones reported by Ministers, special advisers and private office officials as (a) lost or (b) stolen are as follows:
Number of mobile phones
30 May 2002 to 31 March 200301
1 April 2003 to 31 March 200410
1 April 2004 to 31 March 200510
1 April 2005 to 27 June 200500

Sarah Teather: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister which telephone answering services for which his Department is responsible are (a) staffed by employees of the Department, (b) serviced by call centres in the UK and (c) serviced by overseas call centres. [8198]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is responsible for two telephone answering services: the Social Exclusion Unit helpline and the main ODPM switchboard, neither of which are serviced by overseas call centres. The Social Exclusion Unit helpline is staffed by employees of the ODPM, while the main ODPM switchboard is serviced by contractors based within the ODPM's London offices.

Freedom of Information

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many freedom of information requests his Department has received since the introduction of the Freedom of Information Act 2000; and how many have been refused. [7400]

Jim Fitzpatrick: I refer the hon. Member to the Department for Constitutional Affairs' publication Freedom of Information Act 2000—Statistics on Implementation in Central Government Q1: January-March 2005", which was published, and copies of which were placed in the Libraries of both Houses, on 23 June 2005. The information requested can be found in table 3 of the Report.

DCA will be publishing figures for Government Departments' performance under Freedom of Information, including volumes of requests handled by Departments and outcomes of requests, on an ongoing quarterly basis.
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Gershon Review

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what assessment he has made of the implementation of the Gershon Review by local authorities. [9540]

Mr. Woolas: Local authorities in England have to submit annual efficiency statements, which are comprised of two parts; the forward look is prepared at the start of a financial year and contains the council's strategy and planned actions for achieving efficiency gains, while the backward look, prepared at the end of the financial year, reports the gains that were actually achieved.

Local authorities submitted their first forward look statement (covering the year 2005–06) in April. Analysis of these statements indicates that local authorities expect to achieve nearly £1.2 billion efficiency gains during the year, which compares well against the target of £1.0 billion.

Local authorities submitted their first backward look statement (covering the year 2004–05) in June. Analysis of these statements is still in progress, but the initial indications are that local authorities achieved £0.7 billion efficiency gains in 2004–05. Together, the outcomes of these statements are very encouraging and suggest that authorities are well on their way towards meeting the target set in the Gershon Review. They demonstrate our belief that local authorities have a great deal of experience of successfully identifying opportunities for making efficiency gains.

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what savings the Government expect local authorities to make under the Gershon Review, broken down by main budget heading. [9541]

Mr. Woolas: The Government published the annual efficiency target for each local authority in England on 16 June to accompany the publication of the 2005–06 Forward Look Annual Efficiency Statements. The targets are set out in column AJ of the spreadsheet that may be found on the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's website at

In total, the annual efficiency target for all local authorities is £1.023 billion. Thus, the expectation is for local authorities to deliver at least £3.07 billion efficiency gains by 2007–08, which contributes to the overall local Government total of £6.45 billion.

Home Information Packs

Mr. Love: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister (1) why the proposed Home Information Pack energy reports are currently confined to the internal costs of fuels; and if he will make a statement; [5253]

(2) if he will ensure that the proposed Home Information Pack energy reports reflect the external costs of fuels caused by the emission of (a) carbon and (b) other air quality pollutants. [5254]

Yvette Cooper: The purpose of providing the information in the proposed energy report is to encourage people to improve the energy performance of their homes. Consequently, the Energy Reports will
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contain a SAP rating along with information on energy consumption and carbon emissions. The SAP rating, which is based on fuel prices, is included because research indicates that people are most motivated to make energy efficiency investments by reductions in their fuel bills. The external costs of fuel use are reflected in the carbon emissions data. It is not possible to include information on other external costs from fuel use as these are insufficiently quantifiable.


Sarah Teather: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister (1)what estimate he has made of the number of homeless households who were placed in self-contained temporary accommodation in 2004–05 which do not meet the minimum physical standards proposed in his Department's 2003 consultation paper; [6388]

(2) if he will undertake a survey of homeless households in temporary accommodation. [6389]

Yvette Cooper: It is for local authorities to ensure that all temporary accommodation meets statutory standards. ODPM does not collect and has not made any estimate of the number which would meet the standards set out in its 2003 consultation paper.

ODPM has recently commissioned nationally representative surveys of 2000 homeless families with children and 500 homeless 16–17 year olds.

These surveys will investigate the causes of homelessness and the impact of living in temporary accommodation, in particular on the health and well-being of these households, and on children's education. The surveys will also investigate the impact of living in temporary accommodation on access to education, training and employment.

The surveys will report early in the summer of 2006, and we anticipate the findings to be published in the autumn of 2006.

Sarah Teather: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will take steps to enable local authorities to discharge their duty to statutorily homeless households by providing an assured shorthold tenancy in the private rented sector. [6390]

Yvette Cooper: Local housing authorities can already discharge a duty to secure accommodation for a homeless household by arranging the provision of an assured shorthold tenancy in the private sector. The provision of such a tenancy can be used to provide temporary accommodation, pending the availability of settled accommodation. Moreover, where a main homelessness duty is owed to an applicant under section 193(2) of the Housing Act 1996, the offer of an assured shorthold tenancy will bring this duty to an end (as settled accommodation) if the offer is a qualifying offer and the applicant accepts the offer.

In March this year, we published Sustainable Communities: settled homes; changing Lives", a strategy for tackling homelessness. This document set out our proposal to examine the options for making greater use of the private sector as a source of settled solutions for households accepted as homeless.
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Sarah Teather: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what changes he plans to the definition of homelessness; and if he will make a statement. [6392]

Yvette Cooper: There are currently no plans to change the statutory definition of homelessness, provided in section 175 of the Housing Act 1996.

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is currently carrying out a review of homelessness statistics that it collects from local authorities, as announced in Sustainable Communities: Homes for All. A Five Year Plan from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister". This has included revising the layout of the quarterly statistical release to more clearly present the information collected on statutory homelessness. The first revised release was published on 13 June, containing statistics for the first quarter of 2005.

Sarah Teather: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the support his Department gives to temporary to permanent housing initiatives. [6393]

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Yvette Cooper: We have provided funding, support and advice to a number of London boroughs and housing associations seeking to develop a range of temporary to permanent housing initiatives to capture the revenue flow as a longer term social housing asset. Those supported to date include: Newham's Local Space proposal; Ealing's Safe Haven partnership; L&Q Housing Trust's HILS programme; as well as a range of other buy to let programmes delivered by housing associations including Acton, Wandle and East Thames Housing Associations.

We will continue to support innovative schemes which provide settled housing solutions for households in temporary accommodation. Where they offer value for money but require capital investment we will encourage regional housing boards to support bids for the Approved Development Programme funding.

Sarah Teather: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how much funding each local authority in London has received from the homelessness directorate in each of the last five years to support local homelessness strategies. [6402]

Yvette Cooper: The following table indicates the amount of homelessness funding allocated to each local authority in London since 2002–03.
Homelessness grant paid
Homelessness grant allocations
for 2002–03for 2003–04for 2004–052005–06
Barking and Dagenham37,93668,00028,00028,000
City of London18,000656,000515,000265,000
Croydon Council1,596,4951,104,000600,000500,000
Hammersmith and Fulham1,815,5001,300,5001,970,0002,360,000
Kensington and Chelsea1,252,1181,565,511943,000875,000
Kingston upon Thames151,000121,00090,00090,000
Tower Hamlets1,173,800838,950800,0001,735,000
Waltham Forest825,723383,000200,000200,000

1.The allocation of homelessness grants to local authorities began in 2002–03, before this grants had been provided to voluntary sector agencies only.
2.The figures for 2002–03 and 2003–04 reflect actual grant payments made, those for 2004–05 and 2005–06 are the allocations.
3.The allocations for 2004–05 include capital grants.
4.The allocations for 2005–06 include capital grants where these have been agreed, further capital grants may be allocated during the year as part of the hostels capital.

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Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what changes the Government have made to the eligibility of homeless people for accommodation since May 1997. [7403]

Yvette Cooper: This Government have made a number of changes to improve eligibility for homelessness assistance in England since May 1997.

Under the homelessness legislation, eligible applicants must also be unintentionally homeless and have a priority need in order to be entitled to accommodation. In July 2002 we extended the priority need categories to include, broadly, young people aged 16 or 17, young people under 21 previously in care, applicants vulnerable as a result of time spent in care, in the armed forces, in prison or on remand, and applicants vulnerable as a result of fleeing their home because of violence. These changes have widened the homelessness safety net and ensure that more vulnerable homeless people are given the help they need.

In most cases, the main duty to secure accommodation under the homelessness legislation is ended with the offer of a long-term social tenancy. Local authorities' allocation schemes for social housing must be framed so as to give reasonable preference to certain categories of applicant. In July 1997, we extended the reasonable preference categories to include people owed the main homelessness duties. This effectively restored the long-standing rights of people owed the main homelessness duties that had been removed by the Housing Act 1996. In 2002, the reasonable preference categories were revised and broadened to include people owed other homelessness duties and people who were homeless, whether owed a duty or not.

A number of specific changes to the rules on eligibility have been made since 1997 in relation to people coming to England from abroad. These have included:

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what recent estimate the Government have made of the level of hidden homelessness in England. [7406]

Yvette Cooper: Hidden homelessness is a subjective definition, varying between different agencies and individuals. We have a number of objective measures to identify and assess levels of homelessness and a range of wider housing needs which can be used to inform housing and homelessness strategies.

PIE data records all decisions on households who apply to local housing authorities for homelessness
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assistance. This includes those who are found to be homeless (unintentionally or intentionally) and in priority need. It also includes those found not to be in priority need or not homeless. The data can be analysed, and are published quarterly, at national, regional and local authority levels. The total number of decisions on applications by authorities has been falling during 2004, indicating that fewer people are becoming homeless.

Additionally, annual returns from local authorities identify the number of people who are literally roofless and sleeping rough on a single night, from local head counts or estimates. The number of people sleeping out on a single night has fallen by more than 70 per cent. since 1998.

Through Supporting People we collect data on the number of people regarded by service providers as homeless or at risk of homelessness who are provided with housing related support.

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister also collects a range of data on wider forms of housing need, including concealed households, overcrowding and households living in poor quality homes. These are reported in regular ODPM publications—the English House Condition Survey and the Survey of English Housing.

At the local level, local authorities homelessness reviews—required to be undertaken every five years by the Homelessness Act 2002—should identify levels of all forms of homelessness in the local district and be used to inform a local homelessness strategy.

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what changes the Government have made to the methodology for calculating (a) priority homelessness, (b) rough sleeping and (c) homeless in temporary accommodation since May 1997. [7410]

Yvette Cooper: We have improved the amount of detailed information we collect on households in priority need and those in temporary accommodation, and have widened the categories of people given priority.

We have made some minor technical changes to improve the accuracy of the regional and national estimates of households in priority need and households in temporary accommodation, to account for non-response and have taken further steps to improve the response rate, which now stands at over 95 per cent. each quarter.

We have made no changes since 1997 to the methodology for calculating the number of rough sleepers. The most recent national figure of around 508 people sleeping rough on any one night (70 per cent. down on 1998) is based on a higher number of recent counts and less reliance on estimates than any previous national estimate and is therefore likely to be even more accurate.

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