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22 May 2006 : Column 1389W—continued

Concessionary Bus Travel

Mr. Nicholas Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government which local authorities in the county of Tyne and Wear made representations concerning the formula used to distribute the sum of money allocated to cover the cost of the concessionary bus travel scheme announced in the 2005 Budget. [72182]

Mr. Woolas: We received such representations from Gateshead, Newcastle, North Tyneside, South Tyneside and Sunderland.

Council Tax

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the average (a) band D and (b) overall council tax bill was in 2005-06. [72775]

Yvette Cooper: Details of the average Band D council tax and overall council tax bill in 2005-06 in England are published in a statistical release "Council Taxes in England 2005-06", which is available on the Department for Communities and Local Government website at: http://www.local.odpm.gov.uk/finance/ctax/data/sr056.pdf.

Mr. Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what her estimate is of the number of second homes claiming a council tax discount in (a) Torbay and (b) Devon. [72019]

Mr. Woolas: The number of properties designated as second homes and eligible for a discount in council tax as at 19 September 2005 in the Devon area (including Torbay) are shown in the following table.


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Number

East Devon

2,399

Exeter

468

Mid Devon

292

North Devon

1,533

South Hams

4,375

Teignbridge

1,241

Torridge

1,186

West Devon

521

Torbay DA

1,550

Plymouth UA

1,248


Dr. Blackman-Woods: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will introduce proposals to make landlords of student properties liable for council tax on those properties. [71116]

Mr. Woolas: The Government will consider what, if any, changes to make to the council tax system in the light of Sir Michael Lyon’s Independent Inquiry into Local Government which is due to report at the end of the year.

Decent Homes Standard

Mr. Andrew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will make a statement on progress towards the decent homes standard for social housing in each region of England. [71431]

Yvette Cooper: Data on the progress towards the decent homes target are measured through the English House Condition Survey. Data for 2001 are published on our website at: www.communties.gov.uk/ehcs. Updated regional data for 2003 will be published in the summer.

Departmental Initiatives

Lynne Jones: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister ifhe will list the departmental initiatives for each yearsince 2000 which required bids for funding from (a) voluntary organisations and (b) local authorities together with the total resource allocated to each initiative in each year; how many successful bids there were in each year; what proportion this figure represents of the total bids received; and what assessment he has made of the costs of (i) preparing bids for each initiative and (ii) assessing those bids. [66016]

Mr. Woolas: I have been asked to reply.

The Special Grants Programme provides funding for innovative work by voluntary and community organisations exploring diverse ways of involving people in improving the quality of our public spaces, and delivering on the issues to create cleaner, safer and greener communities. No bidding round was held for 2006-07. No assessment has been made on the cost of preparing or assessing bids.


22 May 2006 : Column 1391W
Resources allocated (£ million) Number of successful new bids Percentage of successful bids

2000-01

2.2

11

18

2001-02

2

25

21

2002-03

2

17

17

2003-04

2

17

7

2004-05

2.3

21

7

2005-06

2

9

3

2006-07

2.25

0

0


Deprivation

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to her answer of 8 May 2006, Official Report, column 85W, on deprivation (Somerset), if she will list the areas referenced by Super Output Area code which are amongst the 30 per cent. most deprived areas of England. [70237]

Mr. Woolas: A spreadsheet containing a full list of Lower Layer Super Output Areas (SOAs) that fall within the 30 per cent. most deprived SOAs in England has been made available in the Library of the House.

Home Condition Inspectors

Mr. Rogerson: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how he plans to monitor the performance of home condition inspectors; and what estimate he has made of the cost of conducting such monitoring. [64343]

Yvette Cooper: I have been asked to reply.

Responsibility for monitoring the effectiveness of the performance for Home Inspectors will be a matter for the relevant Certification Scheme. Schemes will operate to standards laid down by the Secretary of State and published later this year.

Mr. Rogerson: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister whether home inspectors’ qualifications will need to be certified by the Award Body for the Built Environment. [64344]

Yvette Cooper: I have been asked to reply.

Home Inspectors will be required to hold a qualification that complies with the National Occupational Standards in Home Inspection. The Diploma in Home Inspection offered by the Awarding Body for the Built Environment has been approved by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority and is recognised by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister as delivering the appropriate Standards. It is open to other prospective awarding bodies to develop qualifications compliant with the National Occupational Standards.

Home Information Packs

Mr. Rogerson: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how long he estimates it will take to put together a Home Information Pack. [64429]


22 May 2006 : Column 1392W

Yvette Cooper: I have been asked to reply.

The Home Information Pack will need to be available before the first point of marketing of the property. We expect at this stage most Home Information Packs to be put together within five days, and we shall review that estimate in the light of the experience of practitioners as part of the dry run.

Bill Wiggin: To ask the Deputy Prime Ministerwhat assessment he has made of the likely impact on (a) house supply and (b) house prices if sellers are required to produce a Home Information Pack. [64666]

Yvette Cooper: I have been asked to reply.

The number of properties available for sale at any one time and the price at which they are sold will depend on a range of factors, including interest rates and the strength of the economy. Home Information Packs will help to ensure that house prices are set realistically and buyers are not faced with unexpected repair bills and other commitments they cannot afford.

Michael Gove: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many commercial insurers have agreed to provide professional indemnity insurance in relation to the contents of Home Information Packs. [64945]

Yvette Cooper: I have been asked to reply.

Regulations to be made under part 5 of the Housing Act 2004 will provide that Home Condition Reports must be produced by a Home Inspector where work is covered by suitable indemnity insurance. Discussions with insurers indicate that such cover will be available in the market. Surveyors are able to get professional indemnity insurance for the surveys they currently carry out.

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister(1) what estimate he has made of the level of participation in the dry run for home information packs (HIP) prior to June 2007; and what the legal status will be of a voluntary (a) HIP and (b) Home Condition Report; [66228]

(2) whether the dry run for home information packs will start before the Home Information Certification Scheme is in place; [66227]

(3) what assessment his Department has made of whether mortgage lenders will be able to take part fully in the dry run of home information packs prior to June, including participating in electronic access to the Register of Home Condition Reports. [66230]

Yvette Cooper: I have been asked to reply.

The first phase of the dry run is already in progress with 49 organisations in England and Wales providing more than 2,500 home information packs on a voluntary basis. More than 150 organisations who plan to offer voluntary home information pack related services prior to 1 June 2007 have already approached the Department to become involved in the dry run and we expect the number to increase as we approach the second phase of the dry run.

The legal status of a voluntary home information pack, with the exception of the home condition report, will be same now as after 1 June 2007 with all components retaining their existing indemnity. Home condition reports will not be included in voluntary
22 May 2006 : Column 1393W
home information packs until the second phase of the dry run, which is due to commence in October 2006, after the first certification scheme has been set up. This will ensure that home condition reports will only be produced by home inspectors who are members of a Government approved certification scheme.

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Deputy Prime Ministerwhat powers the Government have to delay the implementation date of home information packs. [66233]

Yvette Cooper: I have been asked to reply.

Home information packs will be commenced by order, under the power in Part 5 of the HousingAct 2004. We expect to make such an order early in2007 in order to implement Home Information Packs on 1 June 2007.

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what legal redress home buyers will have against inaccurate or misleading information in a Home Information Pack once the packs are introduced. [66491]

Yvette Cooper: I have been asked to reply.

Under the new arrangements home buyers will have the right to rely on information in the Home Information Pack, including that in the Home Condition Report, and to seek redress against those principally responsible for its provision. Home Inspectors will need to be members of a certification scheme and to have professional indemnity insurance. We are currently discussing with industry and others the detail of how best to ensure that both sellers and buyers can action redress arrangements as quickly and simply as possible.

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether (a) the police and (b) local authority trading standards will be responsible for enforcing the requirement to produce a home information pack before selling a home. [70603]

Yvette Cooper: Local authority trading standards officers will be responsible for enforcing the home information pack duties.

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what local authority searches will be required to produce material for home information packs. [70613]

Yvette Cooper: The home information pack will include a search of the local land charges register and the standard additional enquiries that are currently contained in the Law Society form CON.29 Part 1. All these are currently required and paid for by buyers under the existing system.

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she willplace in the Library a copy of the (a) presentationand (b) handout produced by Mr. Denis Purshousefor the seminar on home information packs on29 March 2006. [70634]

Yvette Cooper: A copy of the presentation has been deposited in the Library. There was no handout.

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether (a)
22 May 2006 : Column 1394W
home condition reports and (b) home information packs will be required for (i) right to buy property transactions and (ii) sale or extension of a leasehold. [70636]

Yvette Cooper: As right to buy properties will not be openly marketed they will not require either a home information pack or a home condition report. However, the Government are considering whether tenants exercising their right to buy would benefit from receiving some of the information available in home information packs.

The sale of a leasehold property will require both a home condition report and a home information pack before first point of marketing, unless they are covered by those exemptions outlined in Part 5 of the Housing Act 2004. An extension to a leasehold will not require a home information pack as the property is not being marketed.

Hotels

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many hotels registered for business rates are on the Ratings List in England; and what the average rateable value is for such a business in the Ratings List category for hotels. [70604]

Mr. Woolas: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 10 May 2006, Official Report, column 347W. Neither the Valuation Office Agency nor the Department for Communities and Local Government make estimates of the average rateable value for such businesses.


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