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16 Feb 2006 : Column 2221W—continued

Home Improvement Packs

Mr. Gauke: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what assessment he has made of the likely impact of home improvement packs on the number of properties which will be available for sale. [50906]

Yvette Cooper: The number of properties available for sale at any one time will depend on a range of factors, principally interest rates and the strength of the economy. Home Information Packs are not expected to have a significant impact in their own right, but we are in discussion with the industry as to how to ensure a smooth transition when they come into effect in June 2007.

Home Information Packs

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister when he plans to meet the National Association of Estate Agents to discuss the introduction of home information packs. [44200]

Yvette Cooper: I will be meeting with the president of the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) on 27 February.

Mr. Walker: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how long the information contained in homebuyers information packs will remain valid before a new survey is required; and if he will make a statement. [51719]

Yvette Cooper: The home condition report in the home information pack should be not more than three months old when the home is first put on the market. There will be no requirement to update a report while the home is on the market. In the normal course, the condition of a property is unlikely to change rapidly unless there is an intervening event, such as fire or flood. Sellers and buyers may commission an updated report where they consider this necessary, and the industry is developing cost-effective solutions to facilitate this.

Home Inspections

Mr. Maples: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what assessment he has made of the compliance with the Human Rights Act 1998 of the provisions of the Local Government Finance Act 1992 relating to home inspections. [51645]

Mr. Woolas: The Local Government Finance Act does not provide powers for Valuation Office Agency (VOA) staff or any other persons to enter properties forcibly for the purposes of compiling or maintaining the council tax valuation list. Inspectors from the VOA will only ask to undertake internal inspections of properties where information cannot be gathered by an external inspection or through other sources and will
 
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make every effort to arrange appointments with occupiers in advance and confirm these by letter. If a request to enter a property is declined, the VOA will normally make a best judgement about the correct band for the property. There will, of course, be a right of appeal against any banding that is made. These procedures do not breach the Human Rights Act 1998 and in particular Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Homebuy Schemes

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what assessment he has made of the interest rate to be charged by mortgage lenders to participants in the Open Market HomeBuy scheme; and whether this will be a different rate from the prevailing market rate. [39488]

Yvette Cooper: Discussions are continuing with lenders on the details of the core proposition for the private financing of Open Market HomeBuy equity loans which was announced on 5 December. Lenders are likely to charge a small premium on the interest rate of the standard mortgage, but the aim of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is to ensure that the products are comparable with current shared equity schemes and affordable for our client groups.

Homelessness

Justine Greening: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what grant funding for homelessness was provided to each London borough in 2004–05; how much is being provided in 2005–06; how much is projected for 2006–07; and if he will make a statement. [50332]

Yvette Cooper [holding answer 9 February 2006]: Homelessness grants from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister supplement other sources of Government funding that help to tackle homelessness, including housing capital investment, Supporting People and Revenue Support Grant.

In 2004–05 and 2005–06 a total of £71,658 million (revenue and capital) in homelessness grants was allocated to local authorities in London by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister.

The table provides details of homelessness grant allocations made by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister in 2004–05 and 2005–06 to each local authority in London. Indicative allocations for 2006–07 are also included this table.

Funding provided by the Directorate has supported action to successfully reduce rough sleeping by more than 70 per cent. since 1998, end the use of B and B hotels as long-term accommodation for families with children, and develop homelessness strategies and preventative approaches which have resulted in the first sustained fall in new cases of homelessness for nearly a decade.
 
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£
Local authorityAllocation 2006–07
Allocation 2004–05
Indicative allocation 2005–06
London regionRevenueCapitalRevenueCapitalRevenueCapital (indicative)
Barking and Dagenham28,000.0028,00060,00050,000
Barnet165,000.00210,000160,000
Bexley58,000.0058,00058,00050,000
Brent783,000.00740,0002,865,000740,00050,000
Bromley100,000.00100,000100,000
Camden1,800,000.001,650,0003,172,0001 ,600,00050,0007,320,000
City of London515,000.00265,000650,000265,000
Croydon Council600,000.00575,000500,000
Ealing600,000.00600,000600,000
Enfield250,000.00300,000250,00050,000
Greenwich100,00063,00063,00020,000
Hackney640,000550,00095,000550,000
Hammersmith and Fulham1,500,000470,0001,400,000385,0001,450,000742,000
Haringey200,000200,000200,000
Harrow283,000290,000190,000
Havering27,000.0027,00060,00050,000
Hillingdon80,000.0080,00080,00050,000
Hounslow180,000.00165,000165,000
Islington357,000.00325,000325,000290,000
Kensington and Chelsea943,000.00875,000250,00875,000300,000
Kingston upon Thames90,000.0090,00090,00050,000
Lambeth2,100,000.002,000,0002,020,0001,521,000
Lewisham100,000.00474,000100,0004,000,000100,00020,000
Merton130,000.00130,00085,000
Newham250,000.00212,000200,000
Redbridge105,000.00100,000100,00050,000
Richmond295,000.00295,000315,00050,000
Southwark1,100,000.00353,0001,063,000600,0001,063,00050,000
Sutton200,000165,000130,000
Tower Hamlets800,000810,0001,090,000800,000140,000
Waltham Forest200,000200,000200,00075,000
Wandsworth300,000300,000250,00050,000
Westminster7,366,0009,480,0006,700,0005,113,0006,500,000
Total funding22,245,00010,777,00020,666,00017,970,00020,144,000715,00010,313,000

Ms Keeble: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many homeless acceptances there have been in each local authority in the East Midlands region in each of the last four quarters. [50907]

Yvette Cooper: The following table presents information reported by each local authority in East Midlands for the past four quarters on the number of households under homelessness legislation which were accepted as eligible for assistance, unintentionally homeless and in priority need, and consequently owed a main homelessness duty.

The duty owed by the local authority is to secure suitable accommodation. If a settled home is not immediately available, the authority may secure temporary accommodation until a settled home becomes available. As an alternative to the provision of temporary accommodation some authorities arrange for households to remain in their current accommodation (homeless at home), until a settled solution becomes available.
Households accepted(8) as homeless by local authorities within the East Midlands Government Office Region

Local
authority
October to December 2004January to March 2005April to
June 2005
July to September 2005
Amber Valley68716155
Ashfield23222516
Bassetlaw29306234
Blaby16686
Bolsover2631(9)(9)
Boston21172619
Broxtowe17213516
Charnwood43285249
Chesterfield(9)(9)(9)(9)
Corby1210415
Daventry14222019
Derby222226279189
Derbyshire Dales18313118
East Lindsey50584817
East Northamptonshire16221724
Erewash45537444
Gedling4331193
Harborough1310114
High Peak37496263
Hinckley and Bosworth313445(9)
Kettering25292731
Leicester21818215157
Lincoln66495034
Mansfield758011591
Melton6131319
Newark and Sherwood47787737
North East Derbyshire10313421
North Kesteven26231826
North West Leicestershire52483080
Northampton135131126115
Nottingham City458319313329
Oadby and Wigston1724612
Rushcliffe18202931
Rutland171015
South Derbyshire24191821
South Holland29(9)3612
South Kesteven66856767
South Northamptonshire12211419
Wellingborough(9)606154
West Lindsey2027368


(8) Households found to be eligible for assistance, unintentionally homeless and in a priority need category and, under 1996 Housing Act provisions, consequently owed a main homelessness duty.
(9) Authority failed to provide a return for that particular quarter.
Note:
Data shown as reported.
Source:
ODPM P1E Homelessness returns (quarterly).



 
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Ms Keeble: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what guidance his Department has issued in the last 12 months to local authorities on handling homelessness cases. [50908]

Yvette Cooper: In the last 12 months the Office of the Deputy Prime Minster has made the following guidance available to local authorities and other agencies in relation to homelessness:

In addition, the ODPM published the following documents:

All of these publications are available on the ODPM website at: www.odpm.gov.uk

Ms Keeble: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what discussions his Department has had in the last 12 months with housing authorities on the handling of homelessness cases. [50913]

Yvette Cooper: Officials in the Homelessness and Housing Support Directorate in the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister have an on-going programme of work with local authorities to discuss good practice in the delivery of homelessness services. In the past 12 months this has included visits, meetings, regional seminars and telephone conversations. As part of this work meetings were held in the autumn with approximately 150 local
 
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authorities to specifically discuss their action plans to reduce the number of households living in temporary accommodation.

Richard Burden: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what criteria he is using for the allocation of the £88 million funding announced by the Minister for Housing in December 2005 for local authorities to reduce or prevent homelessness. [51644]

Yvette Cooper: The £88 million funding announced on 13 December 2005 has been allocated to local authorities over two years (2006–07 and 2007–08) to assist them in delivering their homelessness service and reflects the Government's continued commitment to tackle and prevent homelessness. As part of the allocation process every local authority was asked to complete a short survey about their homelessness service. In allocating the funding the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister took account of local homelessness pressures and evidence from the survey returns of local commitment to prevent homelessness and reduce the use of temporary accommodation in line with our homelessness strategy Sustainable Communities: settled homes; changing lives". A summary of the survey returns is included in Survey of English Local Authorities About Homelessness. Policy Briefing 13" which is available on the ODPM website.

Homelessness grants from ODPM are intended to supplement main sources of expenditure on homelessness (for example, local authority general fund expenditure and housing investment) to fund innovative services that tackle and prevent homelessness more effectively.

Anne Main: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many (a) homeless people and (b) people in temporary accommodation there are in (i) St. Albans and (ii)Hertfordshire; and if he will make a statement. [51155]

Yvette Cooper: Information about English local authorities' actions under homelessness legislation is collected quarterly and is in respect of households rather than people. The number of households accepted as eligible for assistance, unintentionally homeless and in priority need during 2004–05 and April to September 2005–06, and the number of households in temporary accommodation arranged by local authorities under homelessness legislation as at 31 March and 30 September 2005, is tabled as follows for St. Albans and Hertfordshire.

After being accepted as homeless, a household will be placed in some form of accommodation. They may be placed in temporary accommodation, until a settled solution becomes available, or they may be given a settled solution straight away depending on the accommodation available to the local authority. As an alternative to temporary accommodation an authority may arrange for a household to remain in their current accommodation (homeless at home), until a settled solution becomes available.

Information is also collected on the number of people who sleep rough, that is, those who are literally roofless on a single night. The table below also shows the number of persons sleeping rough on a single night of each year.
 
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Households accepted as homeless during the year, households in temporary accommodation at the end of the period, and numbers of rough sleepers

Local authority
St. AlbansHertfordshire
Households accepted(10) as homeless
2004–051411,578
April to September 2005–0676752
Households in temporary accommodation2 as at:
31 March 20051051,518
30 September 2005921,465
Rough sleepers3 (number of persons)
200405
200500


(10) Households found to be eligible for assistance, unintentionally homeless and in a priority need category and, under 1996 Housing Act provisions, consequently owed a main homelessness duty.
(11) Households in accommodation either pending a decision on their homelessness application or awaiting allocation of a settled home following acceptance. Excludes those households designated as homeless at home" that have remained in their existing accommodation and have the same rights to suitable alternative accommodation as those in accommodation arranged by the authority.
(12) Number of persons sleeping rough, based on local authority mid-year counts or estimates.
Source:
ODPM P1E Homelessness returns (quarterly)


Mr. Khan: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister when he expects to publish (a) the external evaluation of the range of approaches which have been developed with homelessness grants since 2002 and (b) the good practice guidance based on this study. [42904]

Yvette Cooper: It is planned to publish the good practice guidance on homelessness prevention and a summary of the research in March 2006. It is also planned to publish the full research report on the evaluation of homelessness prevention initiatives in the summer of 2006. When available copies of the guidance and research will be available free of charge from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's website at: www.odpm.gov.uk/homelessness.


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