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13 Jul 2005 : Column 1030W—continued

Council Tax

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what conditions are necessary for a caravan to be eligible for (a) class C and (b) class G council tax exemption. [11394]

Mr. Woolas: The Council Tax (Exempt Dwellings) Order 1992 (SI 1992 No. 558) provides that dwellings, including caravans, are exempt from council tax under class C where they have been vacant for a continuous period of up to six months. The usual requirement that to qualify for a class C exemption the dwelling be substantially unfurnished does not however apply in the case of caravans.

Dwellings, including caravans, are exempt from council tax under class G where they are unoccupied and occupation is prohibited by law. The class G exemption does not apply when a caravan or other dwelling is in fact occupied.

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what plans the Valuation Office Agency has to use private sector firms during the council tax revaluation in England. [11536]

Mr. Woolas: The Valuation Office Agency has no plans to use private sector firms during the process of council tax revaluation in England.

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister whether breach of (a) planning regulation, (b) health and safety regulations and (c) building regulations are grounds for deeming occupation of an hereditament to be prohibited for (i) council tax and (ii) business rates liability. [11389]

Mr. Woolas: It is our view that where occupation of a dwelling is prohibited by planning, health and safety regulations but the dwelling is occupied illegally, it will not be exempt and the residents will be liable for council tax.

Similarly, where a hereditament is occupied and liable to business rates, then that liability remains, regardless of whether the premises are occupied in breach of planning regulations, health and safety regulations or building regulations, or not.

Fire-related Deaths

Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many fire-related deaths there were in dwellings in Hornsey and Wood Green in each year since 2000. [5721]

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Jim Fitzpatrick: The available information on fire-related deaths in dwelling fires in Hornsey and Wood Green in the calendar years since 2000 is as follows:
Fire-related deaths in dwelling fires, Hornsey and Wood Green


London Fire Brigade

London's five-year average (1999–2000 to 2003–04) for accidental dwellings fire deaths is 7.2 per million population, 23 per cent. higher than the average for England (5.9), but lower than the floor target of 1.25 times (7.3 deaths).

First-time Buyers

Mr. Drew: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many first-time buyers there have been in each of the last 12 months for which figures are available; and how many of these he estimates were returners, who had previously been home owners. [11593]

Yvette Cooper: Estimates of the numbers of first-time buyers for the UK for each of the past 12 months are as follows:
June 200433,600
July 200436,300
August 200431,100
September 200428,500
October 200429,000
November 200424,900
December 200424,100
January 200518,200
February 200518,100
March 200522,600
April 200525,100
May 200525,600

1. The figures exclude any first-time buyers who bought a property without the need for a mortgage.
2. The source of the data, the Survey of Mortgage Lenders, does not differentiate between genuine first-time buyers (those who have never been owner occupiers) and other first-time buyers (who have previously been owner occupiers).
However, estimates from the most recent Survey of English Housing" data suggest that, currently, as many as 26 per cent. of so-called first-time buyers are in fact returning owner occupiers.
Council of Mortgage Lenders/Survey of Mortgage Lenders

High Hedges

Mr. Rogerson: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if his Department will place in the Vote Office copies of the document published in June entitled High HedgesComplaints: Prevention and Cure", ISBN 1–851127–87–9. [10680]

Yvette Cooper: Copies of the document entitled High Hedges Complaints: Prevention and Cure" have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses, and it is freely available on the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister
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website at We are happy to provide copies to hon. Members on request and I am arranging for one to be sent to the hon. Gentleman. Against this background, we see no need to place copies in the Vote Office.

Identity Cards

Mr. Garnier: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what estimate he has made of the cost of equipping local authority premises with identity card readers. [9884]

Mr. Woolas: We have been working with the Home Office to identify areas where the Identity Cards Scheme could provide business benefits. On 28 June 2005, my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary placed in the Library a paper containing the latest estimates of benefits of the Identity Cards Scheme which shows that the benefits outweigh the costs once the scheme is fully operational. The cost of equipping premises will depend on the nature of the use of the Identity Cards Scheme and the type of identity check(s) necessary to deliver the business benefits. In some cases, benefits could be realised without the use of card readers and the cost of installing any readers needs to be considered alongside future plans to refresh or upgrade IT systems. As the design of the scheme matures, during and after the procurement exercise, so will our understanding of where the scheme will be of most benefit which will allow us to further refine our estimates of costs and benefits.

Performance Criteria (County Councils)

Mr. Swayne: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister (1)what representations he has received from county councils on the number of performance criteria to which they are subject; and if he will make a statement; [11337]

(2) what assessment he has made of the number of performance criteria to which county councils are subject; and what plans he has to reduce them. [11338]

Mr. Woolas: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has received a letter from Hampshire county council setting out the performance measures which the council reports against.

We are considering the requirements for the number of targets, indicators and standards for local government as part of our developing work on the performance framework, as set out in the document Securing better outcomes: developing a new performance framework" published in March 2005. This work is being taken forward in the context of our 10 year vision for local government as set out in The future of local government: Developing a 10 year vision" which was published in July 2004.

Social Housing (Chorley)

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will make a statement on social housing needs in Chorley. [9581]

Yvette Cooper [holding answer 4 July 2005]: Between 2001 and 2005 the Housing Corporation via the Approved Development Programme spent over £3.7 million in Chorley on the provision of new affordable housing for both rent and low-cost home
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ownership. A total of 53 new social rented homes were completed in Chorley over the same period through grant provided via the Housing Corporation. Chorley borough council spent approximately £0.3 million on improving its own stock.

We announced on 23 June 2005 that following evidence of strong tenant support Chorley is in the 2005 Housing transfer programme. This will ensure the remaining non decent council homes will be made decent by the 2010 deadline.


Further Education

Mr. Rob Wilson: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what the cost of monetary incentives to encourage pupils to pursue post-16 education has been in each year since the incentives were introduced. [9985]

Maria Eagle: Education maintenance allowances (EMAs) are an incentive to encourage young people to stay on in further education post-16. They were piloted from September 1999 in 15 LEA areas, and these pilot areas were extended to include a total of 52 LEAs in September 2000. The scheme was rolled out nationally from September 2004. The costs in each financial year since 1999 have been:
Education maintenance allowance

Expenditure (£ million)
2004–05 (Forecast)260
2005–06 (Projected)403

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