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Mr. Plaskitt: Assessments of the effectiveness of the discretionary housing payment arrangements have been made in Waves 5 and 6 of the Local Authority Omnibus Surveys. These were published in 2002 as part of DWP's in-house series of reports, numbered 97 and 105 respectively.
We also commissioned research from the University of Birmingham ("Review of Discretionary Housing Payments") to review how these arrangements were working in practice and the formula for distributing the
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Government's contribution to local authorities. This was published in 2003, as in-house report no. 127. All reports are available in the Library.
Mr. Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many discretionary housing payment awards were made in each Government office region in each year since 200102; and what the average award was in each region in each year. 
Mr. Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much funding was made available by his Department for discretionary housing payments in each Government office region in each year since 200102; how much was made available by his Department in each local authority in 200405; and how much was returned unused in each case. 
Mr. Hollobone: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the Health and Safety Executive guidelines on public firework displays in relation to incidents during bonfire night celebrations in 2005. 
Mrs. McGuire: The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has published guidance on putting on firework displays safely. The guidance is kept under review and has been amended when incident investigations or research findings indicate that it is necessary to do so.
HSE is currently actively assisting Kettering borough council's investigation into the incident at Wicksteed Park. Once the results of the investigation are known HSE will consider what further action is neededincluding whether the guidance requires further amendment.
Mr. Hollobone: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate the Health and Safety Executive has made of the number of public firework displays held in England in October and November in each of the last 10 years. 
[holding answer 21 November 2005]: The Health and Safety Executive does not collect information about the number of firework displays held.
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However, the British Pyrotechnists Association estimate that there are around 5,000 professionally organised displays each year in Great Britain.
Local housing allowance evaluation reports published so far suggest that so far there has been very little impact either positive or negative on fraud in the pathfinder areas. These reports are available in the Library.
Mr. Paul Goodman: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what percentage of claimants in the local housing allowance pathfinder areas are in arrears; and what the average percentage of arrears is in non-pathfinder areas. 
Mr. Plaskitt: The first survey of local housing allowance claimants in the pathfinder areas after six months of live running found that 13 per cent. of claimants have been at least two weeks behind in paying their rent in the past 12 months. The same survey also found that in the control areas still operating the current housing benefit regime, which is used for the evaluation of the local housing allowance, 15 per cent. of housing benefit claimants in the deregulated private rented sector who receive their benefit directly have been at least two weeks behind in paying their rent in the past 12 months. This difference is not statistically significant.
Mr. Paul Goodman: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make a statement on the lessons learned from those areas piloting the local housing allowance for the private rented sector. 
Mr. Plaskitt: The effects of the local housing allowance in the original nine pathfinders remain subject to a rigorous and independent evaluation. The emerging findings from the first six to 15 months operation are encouraging and these have been published and copies are available in the Library. We will continue to assess lessons learned throughout the full evaluation period, which is due to run until the autumn of next year.
Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) if he will publish a consultation paper on his Department's proposals for piloting the local housing allowance in the social rented sector; and if he will make a statement; 
(2) with which (a) local authorities and (b) registered social landlords his Department has had discussions on piloting the local housing allowance in the social rented sector; 
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(3) what funding has been allocated by his Department to piloting the local housing allowance in the social rented sector. 
Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the local reference rent restrictions on housing benefit were for each property in each locality in flat rate local housing allowance pathfinder areas in 200203. 
Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many young housing benefit recipients have been subject to the single room rent restriction in each year since its introduction. 
Mr. Paul Goodman: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make a statement on the effectiveness of the standard rate of housing benefit earnings disregard in promoting work incentives. 
The income tapers ensure that any increase in earnings is not totally lost by an equal reduction in benefits. Generally speaking, although any increase in net earnings reduces the amount of benefit payable, the claimant should see some improvement in their overall financial position.
Mr. Plaskitt: Local authorities are required to consider a variety of information when determining the amount of housing benefit a claimant is entitled to. This includes details of the claimant's household, rent, income and capital, together with any information provided by the rent officer. Authorities also need information on any non-dependents living with the claimant, as this can affect the final level of benefit due.
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