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Sandra Gidley: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many refuge places for victims of domestic violence there were in England in each year since 1997; and how much central Government funding has been made available to such refuges in each year. 
At April 2003, there were around 5,800 units of support for women at risk of domestic violence. More recent data suggests that there were around 6,000 units of support at April 2005. These figures include both accommodation in refuges and other forms of provision including floating support services where victims are supported to remain in their own accommodation where appropriate.
The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister annually provides Supporting People funding to enable top-tier English local authorities to provide housing-related support. In doing so, however, ODPM does not specify or earmark amounts to be spent on either specific forms of provision or specific vulnerable groups. However, most recent data suggests that local authorities spent approximately £58 million from Supporting People funding on services for women at risk of domestic violence in 200405.
In April 2003 further measures were announced to support refuge provision through capital programmes over a three-year period. In 200304 a total of £18.8 million funding was provided for new refuge provision and refurbishment of existing refuge schemes. The Government have also committed a further £7.5 million nationally in 200405 and 200506 with an additional £5.8 million provided through the Housing Corporation. Priority is being given to projects arising from local authority housing and homelessness strategy reviews to meet gaps in service provision. 427 new units of accommodation will be provided.
The grant supports the Assembly in the performance of its designated functions to scrutinise the work of East of England Regional Development Agency; fulfil its regional planning responsibilities; and for the development of its strategic regional role.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the Government's policy is on the use of empty dwelling management orders in relation to seizing properties which are empty due to the death of the owner. 
Yvette Cooper: Where a dwelling is unoccupied following the death of the owner, it will be excepted from the making of an interim empty dwelling management order for a period of six months following grant of representation. The dwelling will continue to be excepted after this period if the new owner plans to bring it back into occupation or put it on the market.
An additional £1 million is being made available annually to the Residential Property Tribunal Service to cover its new jurisdictions under the Housing Act 2004. Currently the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister estimates that up to 15 per cent. of its new cases
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will comprise of considering applications from local housing authorities for approval to make interim Empty Dwelling Management Orders and dealing with related appeals.
Yvette Cooper: Information on empty homes in the parliamentary constituency of Peterborough is not available because the data are not collected below district level. For (b) , the number of vacant dwellings in Peterborough unitary authority from 1997 to 2004, is tabled as follows:
|Snapshot date||Vacant dwellings|
These figures are for all vacant dwellings, including dwellings that have been empty for fewer than six months, some for less than one month. The Government are introducing new powers from April 2006 for local authorities to reduce the number of long-term empty homes in their area.
Yvette Cooper [holding answer 13 February 2006]: Regulatory impact assessment completed by the former Department of the Environment, Transport and Regions (DETR) in October 2001 supported the introduction of better thermal standards for new and replacement windows in part L of the building regulations from April 2002. This regulatory impact assessment can be seen on the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's website.
|Financial year||Receipts (£million)|
Yvette Cooper: The public consultation on the proposed changes to Part B (Fire safety) of the Building Regulations and the accompanying guidance in Approved Document B ended on 18 November 2005. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is currently considering the responses and other supporting evidence received and will be consulting the Building Regulations Advisory Committee in due course. The ODPM aims to publish a revised version towards the end of this year which would come into force in April 2007.
Yvette Cooper: Planning permission is required before a flag pole is erected. The exceptions are vertical flag poles flying a national flag, or flagpoles flying flags as advertisements under Class 7 of Schedule 3 of the Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisements) Regulations 1992. The flying of all other flags requires the express consent of the local planning authority. Provided they have the necessary consent, no further planning permission is required for the flag pole.
Mr. Nicholas Brown: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what alternative methods were considered by his Department to distribute the sum of money allocated to cover the cost of the free bus travel policy announced in the Budget. 
My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, added £350 million to revenue Support grant for England in 200607 to cover the cost of the free bus travel policy announced as part of his Budget on 16 March. For the purposes of grant distribution,
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consideration was given to using the existing formula for the lower tier Environmental, Protective and Cultural Services (EPCS) relative needs formula and a number of variants of that. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister consulted on and have now adopted a variant of that formula that is reweighted to reflect factors that reflect support for the disabled and the needs of areas where take-up is likely to be highest.
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