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Council Tax

Hugh Bayley: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the percentage increase in band D council tax has been in each local authority in England between 2003–04 to 2006–07. [64320]

Mr. Woolas: The information requested has been made available in the Library of the House. The table shows the percentage increase in area band D council tax for each billing authority in England between 2003–04 and 2006–07. Information for Wales is available from the Welsh Assembly Government.

Departmental Circulars

Mr. Amess: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will list the circulars his Department issued to local authorities in each year since his Department was established. [62869]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister maintains a database of its own circulars, available for public view at: Enter the keyword circular" under the series" search field.

In addition to this resource, the ODPM leads on managing the 'Info 4 Local' website (, which catalogues all types of documents relevant to local authorities, including circulars/letters". Information for local authorities which appears on the ODPM website now goes onto the Info 4 Local site as a matter of course. The full archive comprises documents released by some 65 organisations, including government departments, agencies and other public bodies, and records cover the preceding two years. A search tool built into the website allows subscribers to search by document type or originating department, and subscription to the website is free.

Departmental Policies

Emily Thornberry: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will set out, with statistical information relating as directly as possible to Islington, South and Finsbury constituency, the effects on Islington, South and Finsbury of his Department's policies and actions since 2 May 1997. [60729]

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Yvette Cooper: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) does not hold separate expenditure data on Islington, South and Finsbury constituency.

The Department has put in place a considerable programme of reforms and improvements across a wide range of housing, planning and regeneration policy areas since 1997. For example, ODPM is determined that everyone should have the opportunity to have a decent home and our strategy has meant that in 2004 the number of social sector non-decent homes in England had been reduced by around one million. Islington has set up an Arms Length Management Organisation (ALMO) and is receiving additional funding through this for investing in its housing stock. It also has two housing PFI schemes tackling almost 5,000 street properties below the decent homes standard. Islington has reported to ODPM that the number of properties in its stock below the decent homes standard has reduced from 18,911 in 2002 to 15,213 in 2005.

Islington has also received support for tackling deprivation through the Neighbourhood Renewal Fund, to enable it, in collaboration with its Local Strategic Partnership (LSPs), to improve services and has narrowed the gap with the rest of the country in its Key Stage 3 and GCSE results.

The following table sets out the main payments made to London borough of Islington since the ODPM was established following the Machinery of Government changes on 29 May 2002. For earlier years, the table shows the amount paid by ODPM's predecessor Departments from programmes which are now administered by the Office. It has been for London borough of Islington to determine how that allocation is spent, in line with its priorities.

In addition to the amounts in the table, the London Development Agency (LDA) has spent some £21.3 million on projects in Islington between 2000–01 (when the LDA was first established) and 2004–05. The LDA receives around 80 per cent. of its funding from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister.
Funding to LB of Islington

£ million

In 2002, Islington signed a local public service agreement with the Government, whereby the Council undertook to achieve more testing targets in top priority services in return for reward grant. The Council will accordingly be paid £4.4 million of reward grant—£2.2 million of which it will receive very shortly.

Islington's local area agreement was signed on 23 March, which will enable Islington and its partners to pool Government funding and work together more flexibly to deliver priority services for local people.
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Sarah Teather: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister whether the target for 100 per cent. of local government services to be e-enabled by 31 December 2005 was achieved. [64281]

Jim Fitzpatrick: By December 2005 the average local authority was 97 per cent. e-enabled based upon returns from all authorities in England. The residual 3 per cent. is accounted for by legal or operational barriers to e-enablement, allowed within the definition of best value performance indicator 157, which measured local authority performance against the 2005 target.

Sarah Teather: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how his Department assesses the cost-effectiveness of e-enabling local government services. [64282]

Jim Fitzpatrick: We commissioned a study to quantify the benefits for six National Projects. The findings were based on the experiences of the local authorities engaged in implementing these solutions. Their experiences provided a sample for analysis from which reasoned conclusions were drawn and validated with local authorities and their suppliers. Local authorities can use the outputs of the projects to achieve quantified cost savings, increases in revenue collection and service quality improvements.

Energy Efficiency

Lynne Jones: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what assessment he has made of the expected performance against the target to deliver a 40 per cent. increase in the energy efficiency of new homes on 2002 levels; and what estimate he has made of the impact of non-compliance with revised building regulations on expected performance. [63038]

Yvette Cooper: The Regulatory Impact Assessment supporting the April 2006 amendment to raise energy performance standards in Part L of the Building Regulations can be seen on the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's website Building regulations are a mandatory requirement and this assessment is therefore based upon full compliance.

There is no estimate of the impact that non-compliance could have on expected performance although reports commissioned by ODPM and by others show to some extent that more effort to achieve compliance is needed.

We are therefore continuing to work with building control bodies to see how compliance can be cost effectively improved and are nine months into the largest ever training and dissemination campaign for building regulations.

Fire Precautions (Workplace) Regulations 1997

Mr. Amess: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the operation of the Fire Precautions (Workplace) Regulations 1997. [64023]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The Fire Precautions (Workplace) Regulations came into force in December 1997 and were amended in 1999. Since the introduction of the regulations, the number of fires in non-domestic premises in England and Wales has decreased from over
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19,342 in 1997 to 16,212 in 2004. The number of enforcement notices served under section 13(1) of the regulations has increased from 87 in 1998–99 to over 1,100 in 2004–05 which reflects the risk-based approach to enforcement that the fire and rescue authorities have adopted. Although the number of deaths in non-domestic premises has remained fairly static, it is low (18in 2004). Non-fatal casualities have fallen from 1,159 in 1997 to 724 in 2004.

House Building

Andrew Stunell: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what proportion of the cost of building a home was paid for on average by public money in the most recent year for which figures are available where the house was built (a) as part of a shared equity scheme, (b) by a housing association and (c) by a local authority. [63434]

Yvette Cooper: In 2003–04 the average public subsidy invested through the Housing Corporation's Approved Development Programme for a social rented unit was over £64,000 and for a shared ownership unit was around £35,000.

The public subsidy includes both grant provided via the Housing Corporation and other public subsidies, such as contributions by local authorities.

We do not hold figures for local authority investment.

Sir Nicholas Winterton: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what assessment he has made of the impact on local biodiversity of increased house building in East Cheshire. [64904]

Yvette Cooper: The consideration of impacts on local biodiversity of new house building are matters that should be addressed by regional planning bodies and local planning authorities when preparing regional spatial strategies and local development documents. In preparing these plans, they must have regard to national planning policies set out in Planning Policy Statement 9 (PPS9) Biodiversity and Geological Conservation". PPS9 indicates that plan policies should aim to maintain and enhance, restore or add to biodiversity interests and recognises that it is possible to build in beneficial biodiversity features as part of the design of new developments. PPS9 is also supported by a recently published good practice guide which includes practical examples of how planning authorities can plan positively for biodiversity.

Sir Nicholas Winterton: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what steps he is taking to ensure timely development of infrastructure to keep pace with housing construction in (a) the borough of Macclesfield and (b) Cheshire. [64905]

Yvette Cooper: In the last four years house building has been reduced in Cheshire, and especially in Macclesfield, to focus development on more urban and brownfield sites in the conurbations, encouraging urban regeneration. The infrastructural requirements arising from house building are not, therefore, the same as in growth areas.

Transport infrastructure in the borough is being improved by the enhancement of the west coast main line, currently nearing completion. Beyond that, Cheshire county council has the main responsibility via
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its Local Transport Plan. The Alderley Edge and Nether Alderley by-pass scheme has provisional approval status from DfT and was identified as a priority scheme in the region's Regional Funding Allocation prepared by the North West Development Agency and the North West regional assembly. A decision on the Regional Funding Allocation will be made by Ministers in due course.

Drainage and water supply are a matter for the provider (United Utilities). Social infrastructure is dealt with via the capital programmes of the county council and other relevant agencies, within the resources available. Those resources can be supplemented by the use of planning obligations, and proposals are in hand to improve that via the Planning Gain Supplement.

Under the new spatial planning regime, the regional assembly and local planning authorities should assess infrastructure requirements, in co-operation with all relevant agencies, when preparing their development plans. The Regional Spatial Strategy is under review, has been published in draft, and will be subject to public examination in autumn 2006. It proposes to double the rate of house building in Macclesfield. It will be for the inspectors examining the RSS to come to a view on thefeasibility of this, subject to any representations made by the planners and providers of infrastructure, and we will note their recommendations before finalising the Regional Spatial Strategy.

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