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28 Nov 2005 : Column 204W—continued

HomeBuy Scheme

Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister whether any of the Government's HomeBuy schemes are planned to be piloted in Tamworth. [29383]

Yvette Cooper: At the present time it is not possible to say whether any of our new HomeBuy schemes will be piloted in Tamworth. I refer my hon. Friend to the answer given to the hon. Member for North East Milton Keynes on 21 November 2005, Official Report, column1697W.
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The limited number of early Social HomeBuy pilotsstarting this year, in advance of the Housing Corporation's National Affordable Housing Programme for 2006–08, do not include any provision in Tamworth.


Mr. Betts: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the total capital receipts generated from right-to-buy sales were in (a) Sheffield and (b) Yorkshire and Humber in each year since 1980. [26402]

Yvette Cooper: The total capital receipts from right-to-buy sales of local authority dwellings in Sheffield and Yorkshire and the Humber in the years from 1996–97 onwards are tabulated as follows. These figures are net of discounts and are as reported by local authorities.
Capital receipts
£ million

Yorkshire and
the Humber

Quarterly P1(A/B) return received from local authorities.

The information for years prior to 1996–97 is not centrally available.

Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many applicants are on the Tamworth housing waiting list. [27485]

Yvette Cooper: The number of households on the Tamworth housing waiting list as at 1 April 2005 is 2,772.

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.

Mr. Holloway: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what additional funding he has allocated to transport infrastructure to support the proposed housing developments in (a) Kent and (b) Gravesham. [28381]

Yvette Cooper: The Thames Gateway, of which the Borough of Gravesham is part, is a particular focus for growth as part of the Sustainable Communities Plan.

The Government believe it is important to have the right infrastructure in place to support new homes and jobs. The Department for Transport (DfT) is working closely with other Government Departments and agencies as well as local and regional partners to ensure that transport provision in Kent is properly planned alongside the other aspects of growth. Funding is being made available to enable this to happen.
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Kent's 2005–06 Local Transport Plan (LTP) settlement of £26.3 million represents an increase of 37 per cent. from 2001–02. This money is used for maintenance and smaller schemes and it is for Kent county council to decide the proportion spent in Gravesham. Kent has also received capital funding of £41.6 million for major transport schemes over the same five year period through the LTP process. In addition, the Highways Agency is investing in ongoing major schemes, including the £138 million A2/A282 Dartford improvements, £110 million Swale Crossing and £16 million A2 widening. Kent will also benefit from billions of additional investment in rail, in particular through CTRL domestic services from 2009. Also the Crossrail bill is currently going through parliament.

Alongside mainstream DfT funding, additional money is being committed to Gravesham as part of the Thames Gateway programme. The innovative public transport scheme Fastrack has so far received £4 million from the ODPM Growth Areas Fund (from a total of £15.4 million for transport projects in Kent since 2003) and additional funding for the project is currently being considered. In addition £200 million is available through the joint DfT/ODPM Community Infrastructure Fund (GIF) for transport schemes that support housing delivery in the growth areas. Proposals for GIF are currently being assessed with a likely decision by the end of 2005.

The Government are aware of various assessments by local delivery organisations of the cost of transport infrastructure over the longer term. However, the Government have made no such assessment by area and it will continue to determine such investment in the context of the public expenditure cycle.

Kent will continue to have access to increased levels of transport funding. The South East Regional Transport Board will advise on the allocation of between £138 million and £150 million per year until 2010–11 for major South East transport schemes. This represents about 10 per cent. of the funds that will be spent on transport in the region over that period. Furthermore, the DfT committed £600 million to transport schemes across the Thames Gateway for the three years following the 2004 spending review. It will also be crucial that the private sector make a significant contribution to help ensure the appropriate transport infrastructure is put in place to serve the new and exiting developments.

Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will allow councils to sell privately owned properties which fall into disrepair as a result of long-term disuse. [29157]

Yvette Cooper: Where a residential property has been left empty for longer than six months, provisions in the Housing Act 2004 will give local authorities the option to make an Empty Dwelling Management Order in order to secure the occupation of that property. However, where an Empty Dwelling Management Order has been made, ownership of that property does not transfer to the local authority, and nor therefore, the entitlement to sell. The making of an order may of course encourage an owner to sell voluntarily.
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Existing legislation does provide public bodies, including local authorities, with the power to acquire ownership of privately owned property through compulsory purchase proceedings. Any local authority, responsible for acquiring private property through these proceedings would then be entitled to sell that property.

Mike Penning: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many council properties were sold under the right-to-buy scheme by Dacorum borough council in each year since 1997. [30117]

Yvette Cooper: The numbers of council properties sold under the right-to-buy scheme by Dacorum borough council in each financial year since 1997–98 as reported by Dacorum are shown in the table.
Dacorum: right-to-buy sales

Financial yearRTB Sales

Quarterly returns (P1B) to ODPM from local authorities

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the (a) function and (b) powers of the Audit Commission's Housing Inspectorate are; and what its budget was in the last year for which figures are available. [30443]

Mr. Woolas: The Audit Commission has powers under section 10 of the Local Government Act 1999 to inspect a best value" authority's compliance with Part 1 of that Act. Part 1 includes (among other things) a general duty on these authorities to make arrangements to secure the continuous improvement in the way that their functions are exercised, having regard to economy, efficiency and effectiveness. In addition, the Audit Commission has powers in relation to registered social landlords under the Audit Commission Act 1998. Sections 41A and 41B of the Audit Commission Act 1998 provide the Audit Commission with powers to carry out inspections of registered social landlords in relation to the quality of the services they provide and the arrangements they have put in place to secure continuous improvement in the efficiency, effectiveness and economy of those services.

The Housing Inspectorate is part of the Audit Commission and undertakes its inspection activities under these powers. The expenditure for the Housing Inspectorate's activities for 2005–06 is projected to be £7.98 million. This is part of the Commission's overall budget of £224 million.

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister pursuant to the answer of 11 November 2005, Official Report, column 839W, on housing, what definition he uses of relevant proprietor. [30666]

Yvette Cooper: Relevant proprietor is defined in section 132(4)(c) of the Housing Act 2004 as the person who holds the freehold estate in the dwelling or, in the case of a dwelling let under one or more leases with an
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unexpired term of seven years or more, the lessee under whichever of those leases has the shortest unexpired term.

Mr. Ellwood: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will make a statement on large scale housing developments in Bournemouth. [30352]

Yvette Cooper: The South West regional assembly—as the regional planning body—are working to prepare the new regional spatial strategy for the south west which will look at housing need in the period to 2026. However, no proposed planned housing figures or locations for development have been made by either the regional assembly, the strategic planning authorities or the Government.

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