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7 Dec 2005 : Column 1435W—continued

Local Government Funding

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the net debt or reserves/surplus was for each local authority in England, including police and fire authorities, in (a) 1997–98 and (b) the latest year for which figures are available. [29724]


 
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Mr. Woolas: Tables have been made available in the Library of the House showing levels of revenue reserves at 1 April 1997 and 1 April 2004 for each local authority in England.

Comparisons across years may not be valid due to changing local authority responsibilities.

Mobile Telephone Masts

Mr. Holloway: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many new mobile telephone masts have been erected under permitted development rights in each year since 1997 in (a) Gravesham and (b) Kent. [33636]

Yvette Cooper: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 2 November 2005, Official Report, column 1066W to my hon. Friend, the Member for Coventry, South (Mr. Cunningham).

Planning

Mr. Fallon: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister when he expects to publish proposals to amend the law on planning and Travellers. [34111]

Yvette Cooper [holding answer 2 December 2005]: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister expects to publish the new Planning Circular for Gypsies and Travellers, to replace DOE Circular 1/94 Gypsy Sites and Planning", early in the new year.

Private Landlords

Mr. Drew: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what assessment he has made of the implications for his policy on housing of private landlords requiring a guarantor prior to agreeing a new tenancy; and whether he attributes this practice directly to the policy of paying housing benefit to tenants rather than directly to landlords. [33780]

Yvette Cooper [holding answer 2 December 2005]: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has not made any detailed assessment of the implications for housing policy of the practice of some private landlords to seek a financial guarantor prior to agreeing a new tenancy. My understanding is that they would do so for tenants whose financial circumstances are unclear, for example—students as well as housing benefit claimants.

The direct payment of housing benefit to tenants may have some impact. However, as we made clear earlier this year in 'Sustainable Communities: Homes for All', we are keen to improve access to the private rented sector for households who might otherwise face homelessness, through local authority schemes that provide rent deposits or the guarantees that private landlords seek, or which offer approved lettings with accredited landlords.

Mr. Drew: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will conduct a survey of the number of local authorities reporting that private landlords require a guarantor before agreeing to a tenancy. [33781]


 
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Yvette Cooper [holding answer 2 December 2005]: Information from landlords or tenants on landlords seeking financial guarantors of tenants is not currently collected in the routine statistical surveys of housing. Local authorities are unlikely to offer a consistent view of this matter as it concerns the contractual relationship between landlord and tenant.

However we will consider the case for collecting such information, along with other proposals for new research, as part of the development of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's analytical programme 2006–07. As reflected in the licensing provisions of the Housing Act 2004, we are keen that private landlords should seek references to provide some guarantees that their prospective tenants will not behave in an anti-social way.

Sarah Teather: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what (a) legislative and (b) other measures are in place to prevent private landlords discriminating against letting to tenants in receipt of housing benefit; and if he will make a statement. [34579]

Yvette Cooper: Anti-discrimination legislation does not extend to the practice of refusing to let to benefit claimants and it would be impracticable to do so. However landlords often refuse to let to tenants on housing benefit because of the historical delays by local authorities in administering it. In 2002 the Government implemented a comprehensive strategy to improve delivery and now the average time taken to process new claims has been cut by over two weeks, with the greatest improvements seen in the poorest performing local authorities.

We are keen to encourage greater use of the private rented sector for those in housing need and we have been exploring with local authorities good practice in this field. Access to the private rented sector can be improved for households who might otherwise face homelessness through local authority schemes that provide rent deposits or the rent guarantees that private landlords seek, or which offer approved lettings with accredited landlords as part of an expansion of arrangements for choice-based lettings.

Public Transport (Northamptonshire)

Mr. Hollobone: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the evidential basis is for the assessment of the effectiveness of the anticipated modal shift to public transport in North Northamptonshire as outlined in the Milton Keynes and South Midlands sub-regional spatial strategy. [34093]

Yvette Cooper: One of the objectives of the Milton Keynes and South Midlands sub-regional spatial strategy is to create a shift to more sustainable modes of travel such as public transport. The strategy itself does not assess the detail of the modal shift.
 
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Right to Buy

Mr. Rooney: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many council homes in Bradford were sold under the Right to Buy scheme in each year since 1980. [35288]

Yvette Cooper [holding answer 6 December 2005]: The numbers of council properties sold under the right-to-buy scheme by Bradford local authority in each financial year since 1979–80 as reported by Bradford are tabled as follows. There are no council sales after 2002–03 due to a large scale voluntary transfer.
Bradford: right to buy sales.

Financial yearRTB sales
1979–800
1980–811
1981–82453
1982–83624
1983–84399
1984–85250
1985–86387
1986–87310
1987–880
1988–89351
1989–901,545
1990–911,151
1991–92419
1992–93288
1993–94206
1994–95218
1995–96147
1996–97126
1997–98169
1998–99151
1999–2000231
2000–01225
2001–02311
2002–03362




Source:
Quarterly returns (P1B) to ODPM from local authorities.




Mr. Rooney: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what amount of capital receipts has been generated from right to buy sales in Bradford in each year since 1980. [35290]

Yvette Cooper [holding answer 6 December 2005]: The total capital receipts from right-to-buy sales of local authority dwellings in Bradford in the years from 1996–97 onwards are tabulated as follows. Information for years prior to 1996–97 is not centrally available. These figures are net of discounts and are as reported by the local authority. There was a large scale voluntary transfer in 2002–03.
Bradford

Current prices (£ million)
1996–972.2
1997–982.9
1998–992.6
1999–20004.0
2000–014.1
2001–025.7
2002–036.8




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