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3 July 2006 : Column 754W—continued

Arm's Length Management Organisations

Mr. Rogerson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what estimate she has made of the number of arm's length management organisations which will not achieve the decent homes standard by 2010. [71025]

Yvette Cooper: The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government announced on 7 June that we will negotiate extensions to the 2010 deadline with individual arm's length management organisations where it would be beneficial to have longer to deliver their decent homes programmes. For those starting late on the programme and for local authorities where the scale of the work is significant to deliver mixed communities or more new build, or where there are performance issues, or to ensure value for money in procurement, we will negotiate individual delivery timescales. However, the vast majority of social landlords will still be expected to ensure all homes are decent by 2010.

Competent Persons Scheme

Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what progress has been made in implementing the competent persons scheme; and if she will make a statement. [81031]

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Angela E. Smith: The first competent persons schemes were introduced in 2002 to reduce the administrative burden of the Building Regulations by allowing self-certification of compliance with the relevant Building Regulations by enterprises and individuals judged as competent, as an alternative to submitting a building notice or using an approved inspector. The aim was to enhance compliance, reduce costs for firms, promote training and competence within the industry, tackle the problem of non-compliant builders and assist local authorities with enforcement of the Building Regulations.

The schemes were extended to cover electrical safety in 2005. In April 2006, in support of the new higher standards of energy efficiency required by Part L, further schemes were introduced to cover the installation of bathrooms and bathroom fittings, plumbing, heating systems and hot water service systems, ventilation and air conditioning, lighting systems, electric heating systems and associated controls, air pressure testing of buildings, carbon dioxide emission rate calculations and the installation of replacement windows and doors.

Council Housing

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the recent Court of Appeal decision in the cases of Hassan Ismael and Nimco Abdi against the London borough of Barnet. [66828]

Yvette Cooper: I have been asked to reply.

In the case of London borough of Barnet v. Abdi and Ismael, the applicants were both EEA nationals who were economically inactive and were not “qualified persons” for the purpose of regulation 5 of the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2000. The status of “qualified person” under those regulations relates to whether or not a person has a right to reside in the United Kingdom under European Union law, for example as a worker. The Court of Appeal found that the applicants were subject to immigration control as they did not have a right to reside. This would have meant the applicants were eligible for homelessness assistance under the housing rules which then applied to persons subject to immigration control, in a way that was not intended.

To close this loophole, the Government have made regulations to narrow the classes of eligibility for social housing and homelessness assistance for persons subject to immigration control. The effect of this is to ensure that nationals from the European Economic Area (EEA) who are economically inactive and do not have a right to reside in the UK are not eligible for social housing and homelessness assistance in England (unless, exceptionally, they fall into one of the other classes of eligibility that relate to persons subject to immigration control). The Allocation of Housing and Homelessness (Amendment) Regulations 2006 came into force on 20 April.

The new regulations reinforce the measures introduced in May 2004, and will help ensure that people cannot come to the United Kingdom simply to get access to the social welfare system.

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Mr. Bone: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will visit Wellingborough to discuss future housing and infrastructure developments. [75057]

Yvette Cooper: As I explained in my answer of 18 April 2006, we consider that Wellingborough plays an important part in the growth proposals for North Northamptonshire. We are kept regularly updated on development of the plans to take these forward and I chair the regular Milton Keynes and South Midlands Inter Regional Board. In addition, officials are closely involved with the borough council and other partners in bringing forward housing, growth and other agendas. There have already been a number of ministerial visits to North Northamptonshire and more are planned. DCLG Ministers are more than happy to discuss housing development and infrastructure provision in Wellingborough during future visits to Northamptonshire.

Green Spaces

Dr. Blackman-Woods: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what steps the Government are taking to protect green spaces in urban areas. [72553]

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what steps the Government are taking to improve inner-city green spaces. [75572]

Yvette Cooper: This Government’s programmes for improving urban parks and green spaces are set out in our reports “Living Places—Cleaner, Safer, Greener” (ODPM 2002), and “Sustainable communities: building for the future” (ODPM 2003).

Available evidence shows that the programmes are working. For example, public satisfaction in parks and green spaces rose by 8 per cent. to71 per cent. between 2001 and 2004 (ODPM, 2004). The National Audit Office’s recent report on the performance of our programmes also found that:

It also concluded that:

(NAO March 2006).

Home Improvements

Colin Challen: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many houses in Morley and Rothwell have had improvements under the decent homes standard scheme; and what the cost of such improvements has been. [80584]

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Yvette Cooper: Information is collected at local authority level only. Leeds metropolitan borough (including Morley and Rothwell) reports that in 2004-05 (the latest year for which information is available), 34,388 local authority-owned homes were included in their capital programme for that year at a cost of £77 million. The work carried out includes: incremental improvement of non-decent stock (only a proportion of which will become decent as a result of elemental works); prevention of homes becoming non-decent; and wider housing and environmental improvements to estates. The total expenditure on this type of works in Leeds over the period 2001-02 to 2004-05 was £199 million(1.) However it is not possible to state how many homes have been improved as a result of this total expenditure since 2001-02 as the majority of dwellings will have had work undertaken on them under more than one programme.

Home Information Packs

Mark Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much her Department (a) has spent to date and (b) plans to spend to promote awareness of home information packs. [74479]

Yvette Cooper: The Government have a duty to inform property professions, stakeholders and home buyers and sellers about the forthcoming change in the law. Expenditure for the 2005-06 financial year was £706,000. This includes the cost of an extensive trade advertising campaign to raise awareness of the June 2007 implementation date within the home buying and selling professions.

Planned expenditure of £2,500,000 for 2006-07 includes continued awareness raising within the professions and a national and regional advertising campaign to raise awareness of home information packs among consumers, during the dry run.

In 2007-08 we expect to run a major information campaign for consumers which would include marketing, advertising and publicity. The extent of the campaign and the level of investment will be decided later in the year on the basis of the experience of the dry run.

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether the principle of caveat emptor will continue to apply to house purchasers in relation to home information packs; whether standard conditions of sale in house purchase contracts will be able to exclude the vendor from any future liability as a result of information contained in home information packs after contracts have been exchanged; and whether members of the public will have electronic access to full individual reports stored in the Home Condition Report Register. [75412]

Yvette Cooper: The principle of caveat emptor will continue to apply.

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Sellers are unlikely to be the source of most of the documents required for home information packs—it is the author who remains liable for the contents of individual documents. Where the seller has made statements or representations in the pack, the lawfulness of any attempt to exclude liability for such statements would be for a court to decide. However, it is expected that the position will be no different to that in relation to statements currently made by a seller before contracts are exchanged—in particular, the Misrepresentation Act 1967 requires that any such contractual terms must be fair and reasonable, and the buyer would be entitled to damages if they entered into the contract following a misrepresentation and they suffered loss as a result.

The only people who will have access to the Home Condition Report Register will be buyers and sellers, their advisers and mortgage lenders, and those monitoring the performance and quality of the reports.

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government which organisations are entitled to produce home information packs; what guidelines are in place on what should be included; and what avenues exist for a leaseholder to refuse to pay for a pack that is inferior or defective in information required. [75980]

Yvette Cooper: There are no restrictions on those who are able to put together home information packs. The packs will normally be commissioned by sellers or their agents from providers willing and able to undertake this role for a consideration. The contents of the Packs are prescribed in regulations made under the Housing Act 2004.

Leaseholders will be able to seek redress in the same way as freeholders, either from the pack provider or from their agent, depending on the source of their complaint.

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many people are (a) qualified, (b) in training and (c) registered to take courses for the delivery of home condition reports; and what the average cost is of this training. [75981]

Yvette Cooper: As of 31 May 2006, over 4,400 home inspectors are in the process of being trained, and 232 have completed their training. The amount of training required, and therefore the cost, depends on previous experience. For an experienced surveyor with relevant experience, the cost is estimated to be around £1,600 to £1,800. For a candidate with no relevant experience, training would take longer and is estimated to cost around £6,700 to £8,000.

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government in which areas home information packs will be piloted; and what opportunities there will be to bring forward their introduction if buyer and vendor agree to this. [75982]

Yvette Cooper: Home information packs (HIPs) will be tested on a voluntary basis throughout England and Wales during the period leading up to 1 June 2007. Packs that contain home condition reports prepared by certified home inspectors should be available from
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October 2006. HIP providers are expected to trial the packs in a number of areas after this date; the areas have yet to be confirmed.

Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how the (a) quality and (b) accuracy of facts provided in home information packs will be monitored; and if she will make a statement. [77482]

Yvette Cooper: The quality and accuracy of documents included in the HIP will be the responsibility of the provider of the document (as is the case under the current system). For example, the home inspector will be responsible for the home condition report, search providers for their reports and the seller for the forms they complete. The principle of caveat emptor will still apply, and the buyer's conveyancer should ensure they are satisfied with the information provided. Consumers will be able to get redress if they incur a loss due to inaccurate information.

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister whether (a) mortgage lenders and (b) estate agents will be charged to have access to the Home Condition Report Register electronic database. [66776]

Yvette Cooper: I have been asked to reply.

Access to view reports will be via the local registers and will be restricted to persons prescribed by regulations. This will include buyers’ and sellers’ mortgage lenders and estate agents. We are currently considering the basis for charging in relation to the register, but we envisage such access will be free of charge.

Reports must also be lodged onto the central register, by the home inspector or certification scheme. We anticipate that a fee will be charged for this registration process.


Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many people have been identified as homeless in each of the last five years for which records are available. [76762]

Yvette Cooper: Information about local authorities' actions under homelessness legislation, which is collected in respect of households rather than persons, is summarised in a quarterly Statistical Release, the latest of which was published by the Department for Communities and Local Government on 12 June.

Table 3 provides the number of households accepted by local authorities as unintentionally homeless and in a priority need category, and consequently owed a main homelessness duty, in each year since 1997. Table 6 presents those in temporary accommodation arranged by local authorities at the end of each quarter since March 1997.

Copies are available in the Library, and from the DCLG website at

The duty owed to a person accepted as eligible for assistance, unintentionally homeless and in priority need is to secure suitable accommodation. If a settled home is not immediately available, the authority may secure
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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.

Information is also collected by the Department on the number of people who sleep rough; that is, those who are literally roofless on a single night. These are shown as follows:

Rough sleepers (number of people)












Mr. Greg Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what estimate she has made of the likely change in the number of households in each region in the next (a) five, (b) 10, (c) 15 and (d) 20 years; and if she will make a statement. [81710]

Yvette Cooper: Projections of households for 2003 to 2026 and intervening years were published on 4 March 2006 via the DCLG website:

Mr. Greg Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment she has made of the accuracy of house building targets in relation to growth in the number of households over the past 10 years; and if she will make a statement. [81711]

Yvette Cooper: In response to the Barker Review of Housing Supply, the Government announced, in December 2005, an ambition to increase new housing supply in England to 200,000 net additions per year over the next decade. This took account of factors including household growth, affordability, numbers of houses in plans and recent trends in housing supply.

The level of household growth over the past 10 years reflects in part the level of home building as where the number of new homes are restricted it can restrict household formation. So, for example, young people live with their parents for longer than they would otherwise choose to do.

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