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Fire Services

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister when the new south-east regional fire control room in Fareham is expected to be operative; whether the new site is fully resilient; what its estimated cost is; what other locations were considered; what assessment was made of (a) local labour market conditions and (b) the cost and availability of suitable premises in each case; by whom, and on whose recommendation, the decision to situate the regional fire control room in
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Fareham was made; which fire authorities have expressed support for the decision; and whether a new building will be required. [17894]

Jim Fitzpatrick: On current plans the south-east control centre will be operational in 2008–09. The new centre will form part of a fully resilient national network. The site will be secure. The selection of the site was the result of a procurement process carried out under EU procurement regulations and the availability of suitable labour formed part of the criteria. An assessment was made before going out to tender as to whether there would be a choice of suitable sites, and sites with existing premises were not ruled out of consideration. The decision on the Fareham site was taken by a qualified panel of specialists, and the chair of the SE Regional Management Board was fully briefed on the entire process. Support of particular Fire and Rescue Authorities in the region was not a selection criterion. A new building will be required and an artist's impression of it is on the website:

The up front cost of the development will be borne by the private developer and is commercially confidential. The building will be leased and over a 25 year period the net present value of the contract is £22,148,695.

Sites were submitted in the following areas in response to an OJEU notice posted on 16 April 2004. Note that for some locations more than one site was put forward:

Government Offices

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister whether the size and structure of the Government office regions are dependent on EU approval under the Nomenclature of Units for Territorial Statistics classification regulations. [17385]

Yvette Cooper: No. The size and structure of the English regions are an administrative matter for UK Ministers. The current regions have existed for various planning and statistical purposes since the second world war, with some minor changes over time. The Government offices for the regions, the regional development agencies and other parts of Government operate to these boundaries.

For practical reasons of data availability and the implementation of regional policies, the NUTS nomenclature is based primarily on the institutional divisions currently in force in the member states.

Home Ownership

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what estimate the Government has made of the numberof people in England who have three or more homes. [17220]

Yvette Cooper: The information requested is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
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Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what changes have been made to the presentation of homelessness statistics in his departmental press releases and statistical bulletins in the last six months. [17354]

Yvette Cooper: Summary information about local authorities' activities under the homelessness legislation in England is published in quarterly National Statistics Releases, on pre-announced publication dates.

In the Sustainable Communities—Homes for All" strategy published in January this year there was a commitment that ... we will be reviewing the way we collect homelessness statistics, to improve our understanding of who is homeless and the circumstances in which they are living." This included improving the presentation of the information on statutory homelessness, and the layout of the quarterly release was revised using charts and maps to more clearly present the information, and to incorporate additional information (such as length of time spent in temporary accommodation) which had been collected but not previously published.

The revised format was then issued for public consultation in April, inviting comments on the new layout.

The Statistical Release published on 13 June, covering statistics for the first quarter of 2005, was the first to be produced using the new format. Copies of these and previous releases are available on the ODPM website and also in the Library of the House.

Richard Burden: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what representations he has received about the practices adopted by Birmingham city council in relation to its responsibilities to the homeless; and what action he is taking on the matter. [18303]

Yvette Cooper: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has received representations from hon. Members for Birmingham, Northfield and Birmingham, Selly Oak, about Birmingham city council's practice when receiving homeless applications for housing assistance from private sector tenants whose tenancy is coming to an end.

Officials in ODPM provide ongoing advice and support to all local housing authorities, including Birmingham city council, in their work to prevent homelessness. The practice that we encourage all of them to follow is to tackle homelessness at the earliest opportunity, by enabling people to continue to live in their current accommodation where possible or helping them to obtain suitable alternative accommodation. It is not good practice to simply advise people to remain in their accommodation until their landlord obtains a court order for possession and the bailiffs arrive, and we advise against that.

Following initial enquiries, Birmingham city council has informed officials that it is adopting the good practice we advocate in these circumstances. However, officials from ODPM'S homelessness and housing support directorate are due to meet senior officers from Birmingham city council shortly to discuss the policies being pursued by the housing authority and provide further guidance if needed.
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Household Projections

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister when he expects to publish the household projections for the next 10 years; and if he will make a statement. [16501]

Yvette Cooper: A release date for the 2003 based Household Projections for England will be pre-announced on the National Statistics website as soon as the work is complete.


Mr. Laws: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many people were on the housing register in each English local authority for each year from 1996–97 to 2005–06; and if he will make a statement. [18623]

Yvette Cooper: Local authorities in England report the numbers of households on their housing waiting list as at 1 April in their annual Housing Strategy Statistical Appendix returns. Local authorities sometimes maintain a common waiting list with the housing association(s) in their district. However, information is not held centrally where a housing association maintains a separate waiting list to the local authority.

The annual data from this source for the years 1996 through to 2005 have been placed in the Library of the House.

Mr. Andrew Mitchell: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what process was followed to assess the impact of the withdrawal of the supported housing management grant to residential care homes for vulnerable people with disabilities in (a) Sutton Coldfield and (b) the West Midlands over the last five years. [17121]

Yvette Cooper: Authorities and providers were informed in 2001 that the sheltered housing management grant (SHMG) in residential care homes would be ineligible for long term SP funding and alternative funding should be sought before 1 April 2006. It was a matter for local authorities to assess the impact on the local area and ensure that appropriate funding was in place.

Mr. Andrew Mitchell: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what alternative funding provision has been made available to those in receipt of the supported housing management grant in (a) Sutton Coldfield and (b) the West Midlands. [17122]

Yvette Cooper: No alternative central funding provision has been made available to those in receipt of supported housing management grant (SHMG) as SHMG was transferred in to the Supporting People fund with effect from 1 April 2003.

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many of the members of his housing task force have left to work in the private sector since its creation; and what restrictions are placed on their leaving to join (a) housing associations and (b) financial institutions financing council housing privatisation. [17857]

Yvette Cooper: Since its creation, three people have left the community housing taskforce to work in the private sector. There are no restrictions placed on their leaving.
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Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will extend the work of his housing task force to include advising local authorities who decide to retain their housing stock. [17858]

Yvette Cooper: The Community Housing Task Force already performs this function.

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister whether his housing task force provides adviceto local authorities who retain their own housing stock. [17859]

Yvette Cooper: Yes.

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