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28 Mar 2006 : Column 920W—continued

Council Tax

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister whether billing authorities are able to levy backdated interest on (a) late council tax payments and (b) retrospective payments made as a result of a council tax discount being incorrectly claimed. [59127]

Mr. Woolas: No interest is payable on late council tax payments or any retrospective payments. A system to include interest payments could be operated only at disproportionate cost. Equally, no interest is payable on council tax overpayments.

Grant Shapps: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what plans he has to review the operation of student council tax exemption. [60944]

Mr. Woolas: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's Working Group for Local Government Financial Statistics, which comprises representatives of central and local Government, will consider the student council tax exemption figures used for grant calculation purposes.
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Sir Michael Lyons's Independent Inquiry into Local Government is reviewing the council tax system, including discounts and exemptions. The inquiry is due to report by December 2006.

Rosie Cooper: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will take steps to reduce the council tax exemption threshold for people serving apprenticeships. [61250]

Mr. Woolas: A full council tax bill assumes that there are at least two adults living in a dwelling. Where there is only one adult living in the dwelling the overall bill is reduced by 25 per cent. Certain people are disregarded for the purposes of calculating the household's bill. In the case of apprentices the disregard is in part dependent on their earning less than a prescribed level of income. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister will shortly be consulting on whether the apprentice earnings limit should be increased and, if so, by how much.
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Fire Precaution Regulations

John McDonnell: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many prohibition notices were issued by the fire and rescue services in England in accordance with Regulation 12 of the Fire Precautions (Workplace) Regulations 1997 (as amended) and section 10 of the Fire Precautions Act 1971 (as amended) in each year since 1997, broken down by issuing authority. [61893]

Jim Fitzpatrick: All prohibition and restriction of use notices are issued under section 10 of the Fire Precautions Act 1971. The effect of Regulation 12 of the Fire Precautions (Workplace) Regulations 1997 (as amended) is to extend the scope of section 10 of the 1971 Act to cover tents and other moveable structures where people are employed to work; and places of work in the open air .

Information on prohibition notices issued by the fire and rescue services in England in accordance with section 10 of the Fire Precautions Act 1971 (as amended) is available centrally from 1998–99.

The information presented is 'as reported' to ODPM by fire and rescue services on the annual FSR4F return.
Number of notices served by fire and rescue authorities prohibiting or restricting the use of premises

Bedfordshire and Luton0141100
County Durham and Darlington1000002
East Sussex102021
Greater Manchester312191881218574
Hereford and Worcester7220000
Isle of Wight2206000
Isles of Scilly0000000
North Yorkshire0001002
Royal Berkshire113913115n/a
South Yorkshire1021071
Tyne and Wear1010000
West Midlands4281181011
West Sussex0000010
West Yorkshire191922221283

n/a=Not available
Annual returns from fire and rescue services

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Home Buyers Packs

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister whether he plans to bring forward secondary legislation to allow public sector bodies to have access to the new register of home condition reports. [59130]

Yvette Cooper: The only people who will have access to the registers of home condition reports will be buyers and sellers, their advisers and mortgage lenders and those monitoring the performance and quality of the reports. The secondary legislation will be framed accordingly.

Iraqi/Afghan Communities

Keith Vaz: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many meetings he has had with representatives of (a) Iraqi and (b) Afghan communities living in the UK in each of the last three years. [54765]

Mr. Woolas: The information is not collected centrally.

The Deputy Prime Minister has a wide range and number of meetings in his role as Deputy Prime Minister, First Secretary of State, Member of Parliament and Constituency MP.

The Government aims to achieve constructive dialogue with the broad range of faith communities and is supporting and encouraging interfaith and multi-faith activities and dialogue.

Local Government Expenditure

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what proportion of local government total assumed spending was made up of specific grants in each year since 1997–98; and what the estimated figure is for 2006–07. [60117]

Mr. Woolas: The percentage of local government revenue expenditure financed by specific grants in each year since 1997–98 to 2005–06 is tabled as follows. The information requested for 2006–07 is not available yet.
Percentage of local government revenue expenditure

Revenue Summary (RS) returns to 2004–05 and Revenue Accounts (RA) budget returns for 2005–06.

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The table is presented on a non-financial reporting standard 17 (FRS17) basis.

The definition of local government revenue expenditure used here is that expenditure funded from aggregate external finance (AEF), council tax and authorities' reserves. AEF is Central Government revenue funding that comprises Formula grant (Revenue Support Grant, Redistributed business rates and Police Grant), General Greater London Authority (GLA) Grant and specific grants inside AEF, i.e. revenue grants paid for council's core services. The definition of specific grants used here is the specific grants inside AEF.

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

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