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The Minister for Housing and Planning (Yvette Cooper): In March my right hon. Friend the Member for Streatham (Keith Hill) and then Minister for Housing and Planning announced the majority of the 200506 round of planning delivery grant, a performance-related grant paid to local authorities in recognition of their work in planning. It is with pleasure that today I announce the remaining final element of that grant to the House.
This final grant element, rewarded on the basis of local planning authority performance in making future plans for their local area, amounts to £21,545,275 across English local authorities and will see each of the 395 local authorities that delivered a satisfactory local development scheme to Government offices by 28 March 2005 receive £54,545.
The planning delivery grant (PDG) is not ring-fenced or hypothecated beyond the condition that 25 per cent. of the total received in the 200506 financial year must be used for capital expenditure. In this year as a whole, £170 million has been invested in planning through the PDG, in addition to other efforts at boosting the resources available to enhance good planning, such as the raising of planning fees in April.
The Government's aim is to enhance the resourcing of the planning system in a way that drives performance improvement and ensures effective delivery of our objectives for sustainable communities. It is specifically targeted towards meeting the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's public service agreements (PSA) 5 and 6. PSA 5 aims to achieve a better balance between housing availability and demand. PSA 6 requires all authorities
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to have local development frameworks in place (in accordance with agreed local development schemes) and to meet the best value development control targets by the end of 200607.
The Minister for Housing and Planning (Yvette Cooper): My right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister will shortly publish for public consultation Proposed Changes to Regional Planning Guidance for the South East. These proposed changes concern policies on minerals and waste. They follow the public examination in October 2004 and the report of the independent panel in January 2005.
The changes stem from a partial review of RPG9 which aims to expand and further amplify policy on these topics. On commencement of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act in 2004 RPG9 became the statutory Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS).
Proposed changes include new and revised policies to encourage recycling and recovery of waste materials, provision of new waste treatment and handling facilities and ensure the continue supply of primary aggregates and other minerals.
Overall the panel considered the drafts to be broadly compatible with RPG9 and national policy. The panel did, however, recommend some changes. Notably, on waste the panel recommended adjustments to targets for diversion of waste from landfill and the target for recycling construction and demolition waste and that policy on waste management capacity requirements should be strengthened. On minerals, the panel recommended that the supply of primary aggregates should be increased to accord with national guidelines and that a lower target should be assumed for the proportion of aggregates to come from alternative materials. Government are grateful for the recommendations of the panel. We propose accepting the recommendations of the independent panel who held the public examination into the proposed alterations, with some adjustment particularly in order to provide clearer guidance for waste planning authorities on waste management capacity requirements.
The process of comprehensively reviewing RPG9 has already begun. Further refinement of these policies will be continued through this process. As part of this work the South East of England Regional Assembly is working towards improving the monitoring of waste management and mineral extraction. I support this valuable work.
Copies of the relevant documents will be available, once published in the Libraries of the House and will be provided for all of the region's MPs, MEPs and local authorities.
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The Minister for Local Government (Mr. Phil Woolas): I am pleased to be able to announce further information on the Government's local enterprise growth initiative, launched by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the Budget in March. The responses to the consultation exercise were overwhelmingly positive and included many thoughtful comments, which will help us refine the initiative. A summary of submissions to the consultation and the Government's response will be issued soon.
In the meantime I am pleased to today place copies of a document on next steps in the Library of the House. This document includes basic background information on the next steps involved for those interested in being involved in the Local Enterprise Growth Inititative.
The Minister for Housing and Planning (Yvette Cooper): I am announcing today the publication of consultation drafts of four annexes to Minerals Policy Statement 1 (MPS1) "Planning and Minerals". These deal with "Aggregates provision in England", "Brick clay provision in England", "Natural building and roofing stone in England" and "Onshore oil and gas in England". These set out the planning policies that Government considers should be followed by local authorities, the minerals industry, and other stakeholders to ensure that the supply of these minerals is achieved at acceptable cost to society, including environmental costs, and to help protect the environment, in the interests of sustainable development. They should be read in conjunction with MPS1. That document, which contains the over-arching principles for minerals planning, will be finalised in the light of consultation carried out on it in winter 200405 and on these annexes.
When finally published, the annex "Aggregates provision in England" will, together with the guidelines for aggregates provision issued in June 2003 and parts of MPS1, complete the review and revision of Minerals Planning Guidance Note 6 "Guidelines for aggregates provision in England", published in 1994. When finalised, the annex "Onshore oil and gas in England" will replace DOE Circular 2/85 "Planning control over oil and gas operations".
The draft annexes to MPS1 take account of relevant legislative changes since earlier guidance was issued including the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act (2004). They contribute to the Government's sustainable development objectives for planning and the creation of sustainable communities, by helping to secure the necessary supplies of minerals, particularly for construction, while seeking to minimise the effects of mineral working on local communities and the environment.
The Minister for Local Government (Mr Phil Woolas):
I am announcing today the allocation of a total of £1.3 billion new resources for the most deprived areas of England. These new resources for the Neighbourhood
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Renewal Fund (NRF) and the Safer and Stronger Communities Fund (SSCF) demonstrate the Government's continued commitment to social justice and opportunity for all, to eradicate social exclusion and anti social behaviour.
People living in the most disadvantaged areas suffer most from antisocial behaviour and crime. We are determined to ensure, through the NRF, that respect within the community and between individuals is protected.
As part of the Spending Review 2004, the Government announced that they would be making available an additional £1.05 billion for the Neighbourhood Renewal Fund (NRF) (£525 million for 200607 and a further £525 million for 200708).
These new resources are in addition to the £1.875 billion NRF the Government made available over the period 200106. The 88 Local Strategic Partnerships (LSPs) who have received NRF have made good progress in using it to help address some of the most serious problems in our most disadvantaged areas.
The gaps between these areas and the rest on crime, educational attainment and worklessness have narrowed. However, we must not be complacent and must continue to ensure that this progress is sustained and built upon. Reducing the health inequalities gap is a significant challenge and ODPM remains committed to working with the Department of Health and its Spearhead group of local authorities to tackle this issue.
The Government are determined to build momentum to ensure that improvements in quality of life and quality of public services reach the most disadvantaged citizens. Floor targets on employment, education, crime, health, housing and liveability are a public commitment to this work, and the success of some authorities in meeting them shows what is possible. We look forward to continuing our joint work to deliver change.
All the evidence shows that neighbourhood renewal is only successful when changes in the physical environment and improvement in public services are combined with a strong commitment to promote liveability and tackle antisocial behaviour. The determination of local authorities to use the Neighbourhood Renewal Fund to employ neighbourhood wardens and promote after-school provision for young people, side-by-side with active partnership with the police in the use of powers to tackle anti-social behaviour, is delivering real change on the ground. We will be working with local authorities, including through the Local Area Agreement process, to ensure that this approach is embedded in our regeneration activities, and that there is continued innovation to target the activity of the minority of citizens who can blight the lives of the majority.
This new NRF settlement, the largest since the neighbourhood renewal strategy was launched in 2001, recognises and will build upon progress so far, allowing LSPs more resources to help improve service delivery in their most disadvantaged neighbourhoods.
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I am therefore announcing today the indicative allocations of £1.05 billion NRF resources for 200607 and 200708 to 86 local authority districts. Details of allocations to individual local authorities are set out in the attached table (Annex A). Final NRF allocations will be confirmed when the Revenue Support Grant (RSG) is paid to local authorities in November.
NRF will be allocated to any local authority area which falls within the 50 most deprived districts in England on any of the six district level measures of deprivation included in the Index of Deprivation 2004 (ID04). The size of the allocation to each eligible area has been determined by the number of people within the district living in the 10 per cent. most disadvantaged neighbourhoods in the country.
Six of the 88 authorities which are currently receiving NRF have improved sufficiently to come off the list of the most disadvantaged districts in the country. However, these authorities will continue to receive tapering NRF over the next two years. This funding will support these authorities over the transitional period and allow them to time to adapt and to sustain the progress they have made to date.
As well as the new NRF allocations, I am also announcing the allocation of two elements of the new Safer and Stronger Communities Fund, the Neighbourhood Element and the Cleaner, Safer, Greener element.
The SSCF is one of the Local Area Agreement funding streams. The Neighbourhood Element of SSCF is also designed to address deprivation in our most disadvantaged neighbourhoods. It will provide funding for 100 of the most disadvantaged neighbourhoods in the country. Details of allocations of the neighbourhood element of SSCF to individual authorities are attached at Annex B. The new ID04 has allowed us to identify small pockets of deprivation in otherwise affluent areas for the first time. This element of the SSCF will target such neighbourhoods, including many beyond those areas that will receive NRF. Neighbourhood element funding is targeted at the 3 per cent. most disadvantaged neighbourhoods and is worth £41.3 million and £51.6 million in 200607 and 200708 respectively. Between the NRF and the neighbourhood element of SSCF, we will target a higher proportion of the people living in the most disadvantaged neighbourhoods in the country than has ever been possible before.
There is extensive evidence of a clear correlation between deprivation and poor local environmental quality. The cleaner safer greener element of SSCF, therefore, is being targeted at disadvantaged neighbourhoods in greatest need of improving their local public spaces. This element is worth £48.5 million and £56.5 million in 200607 and 200708 respectively. Details of individual allocations of the Cleaner, Safer, Greener element of SSCF are attached at Annex C.
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