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18 Oct 2006 : Column 1280W—continued

Digital Switchover

Mr. Swire: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what plans she has to run pilots in advance of digital switchover which assess the implications for multiple dwelling units. [87821]

Yvette Cooper: This Department has no plans currently to run such pilots. However, we are working closely with DCMS, DTI and Digital UK to ensure that tenants are not disadvantaged by the digital switchover.

English Partnerships

Mr. Lancaster: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) to which Minister English Partnerships is accountable; [91480]

(2) to whom Milton Keynes Partnerships is accountable. [91481]

Yvette Cooper: Responsibility for English Partnerships (EP) falls within my Ministerial portfolio within the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG).

Milton Keynes Partnership (MKP) was established as a committee of English Partnerships and therefore is formally accountable through the Department for Communities and Local Government to Parliament. However the committee was established with three members of Milton Keynes council, representatives of the local strategic partnership and private sector, and has a remit to hold regular public meetings in order to ensure local accountability and transparency. Milton Keynes council remains the plan making authority for the area.


Mr. Galloway: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many homes owned by local authorities are being used as temporary accommodation for the homeless; what the average time was that such property was occupied before the family was offered permanent rehousing in the last period for which figures are available; what the
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average rent charged in such circumstances is; and whether the rents are related to (a) average social quoted housing rents and (b) private sector market rents. [91531]

Yvette Cooper: Information about local authorities’ actions under homelessness legislation, which includes the number of households living in temporary accommodation, is summarised in the Department’s quarterly Statistical Release on statutory homelessness.

The latest Release, covering statistics to the end of June 2006, was published on 11 September. Copies are available in the Library, and from the DCLG website at:

The duty owed by local authorities 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 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.

Table 6 in the Statistical Release shows the number of households in temporary accommodation arranged by local authorities, as at the end of June 2006 (the latest date for which information is available).

Table 9 shows the number of households that, during the quarter, left temporary accommodation provided by the authority (or who were no longer registered as “homeless at home”), split by the length of stay in seven broad time bands ranging from ‘under six months’ to ‘five years or more’. These households will either have been provided with some form of settled accommodation, or have left the accommodation voluntarily, ceased to be eligible or become intentionally homeless.

Figures on average rent charged by local authorities or private landlords to households in temporary accommodation are not held centrally.


Mr. Lancaster: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what financial incentives she plans to offer Milton Keynes Council to deliver her Department’s housing targets under the Sustainable Communities Plan. [91482]

Yvette Cooper: The Government are currently consulting on a Housing and Planning and Delivery Grant as a potential incentive for local authorities to help deliver additional housing to respond to the housing needs of their communities.

Milton Keynes continues to benefit from access to Growth Area and Community Infrastructure Funding. Projects being supported under these funds include £24 million for the central station; £7 million for expansion at the general hospital; and £3 million for public transport improvements, all of which will support the sustainable growth of Milton Keynes.

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Lyn Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many affordable homes were built with a contribution from section 106 planning gain in each local authority in London in 2005-06. [91529]

Yvette Cooper: Information for 2005-06 is being finalised and will be made available on the Department for Communities and Local Government website shortly. For the number of affordable homes built in each of the four previous years I refer my hon. Friend to the answer given to the hon. Member for Sutton and Cheam (Mr. Burstow) on 31 October 2005, Official Report, columns 759-60W.

Mr. Nicholas Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what guidelines have been issued by her Department to local authorities on the proportion of social housing in regeneration schemes. [92082]

Yvette Cooper: The Government do not normally advise local authorities on the proportion of affordable housing to be included in individual developments. However LA’s are advised to do needs assessments for different kinds of housing and to set appropriate proposals for social housing in their local development frameworks. Guidance for local authorities on other issues with affordable housing targets and thresholds in local plans will be provided later this year in the Planning Policy Statement for Housing.

Local Government Ombudsman

Kate Hoey: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the factors are which the Local Government Ombudsman should take into account in considering whether to conduct an investigation into a complaint that has not been made within the 12 month period specified in section 26(4) of the Local Government Act 1974. [92172]

Mr. Woolas: It is entirely a matter for the Local Government Ombudsman to decide whether he considers it is reasonable to conduct an investigation in respect of a particular complaint not made within the 12 month period referred to in section 26 of the Local Government Act 1974. Accordingly, I have passed the question to the ombudsman, and invited him to reply direct. A copy of the ombudsman’s reply will be placed in the Library of the House.

Local Government Pensions

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether employees of (a) regional chambers and (b) regional development agencies are eligible to join the Local Government Pension Scheme. [94650]

Mr. Woolas: Employees of these bodies who are covered either by an admission agreement made with a Local Government Pension Scheme Administering Authority, or by a statutory resolution of the London Development Agency, would be eligible to join the
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Local Government Pension Scheme. It is a matter for the employer and administering authority concerned to decide whether an admission agreement is appropriate, and to whom it should apply.

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what steps she is taking to reform the governance of the Local Government Pension Scheme following the recent letter from the Audit Commission recommending changes. [94654]

Mr. Woolas: The Department has established a working group, including representatives from the Audit Commission, to take forward these recommendations to augment the existing best practice standards of auditing and financial reporting of Local Government Pension Scheme fund authorities. All parties agreed on 11 September that these aims could be achieved by amending the LGPS regulations to require fund authorities to publish an annual report, in line with best practice audit guidance on form and content. This change will allow local auditors to apply new arrangements recommended by the Audit Commission and introduce greater transparency in the reporting of LGPS pension fund accounts. A statutory consultation exercise will take place shortly.

In addition, an informal consultation exercise with a range of interested parties on future governance arrangements in the LGPS has recently concluded. A copy of the consultation paper can be found at:

The next steps will be announced shortly.

Newcastle Regeneration

Mr. Nicholas Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what proportion of social housing is in the new build of the Walker, Newcastle regeneration programme. [92077]

Yvette Cooper: Information on this specific regeneration programme is not held centrally.

Planning (Community Involvement)

Mr. Truswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many statements of community involvement the Planning Inspectorate has rejected because they had procedural or other flaws; which planning authorities submitted each one; and if she will make a statement. [90770]

Yvette Cooper [holding answer 11 September 2006]: A total of 307 Statements of Community Involvement (SCIs) have been submitted to the Secretary of State for examination. Of the 214 SCIs which have commenced the examination stage, inspectors have issued 208 binding reports and a total of 121 SCIs have been adopted.

Only one SCI that has been examined has been found to be unsound and has been recommended to be withdrawn by the Planning Inspectorate. This is the Bristol SCI.

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Valuation Office Agency

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether Valuation Office Agency officers are awarded (a) non-pecuniary and (b) pecuniary benefits for (i) finding rateable values which had not previously been identified and (ii) dealing with appeals successfully. [94817]

Dawn Primarolo: I have been asked to reply.

I refer the hon. Member to the replies I gave on 31 January 2006, Official Report, column 414W, and 3 May 2006, Official Report, column 1725W, and by my hon. Friend the Financial Secretary to the Treasury on 23 March 2006, Official Report, column 506W.

Women and Work

Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government which Government resources are committed to the Women and Work Action Plan; who the exemplar companies associated within it are; and if she will make a statement. [94919]

Meg Munn: Six staff in the Women and Equality Unit are working to advance the implementation of the Women and Work Commission recommendations across Government and will produce a report on progress in spring 2007. The exemplar employers are employers from both the public and private sectors, representing large and small employers from a range of sectors, who have initiatives which address the causes of the gender pay gap. The initiatives cover a range of issues including working in schools to inform girls about careers in their sector, equal pay reviews, women’s networks, support for women returners, and career pathways for part-time workers. A full list of employers and details of the good practice initiatives is currently being compiled and will be published in due course.

Work and Pensions

Allowance Assessments

Mr. Hunt: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much was spent on the assessment process for (a) disability living allowance, (b) attendance allowance, (c) carer’s allowance and (d) incapacity benefit in each of the last five years. [94208]

Mrs. McGuire: The Department accounts for its administrative expenditure by strategic objective as set out in its public service agreements (PSA) and by individual requests for resources (RfRs) as set out in the Departmental Estimates and Accounts, and not by benefit. Information on administrative expenditure by strategic objective is available in the annually published Departmental Report, copies of which are available in the Library.


Sandra Gidley: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what inquiries are made of the Public Guardianship Office to establish if any other
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person holds a registered power of attorney when an application for an appointeeship is made by a social service Department for the authority to receive pensions and other benefits due to pensioners and others. [92802]

Mr. Plaskitt: No inquiries are made.

If there is a registered attorney to whom benefit is being paid at the time of the application by social services, the Department will be aware. In such a case the application from social services would be discussed with the person holding the registered power.

If benefit is being paid to the customer at the time the application to act as the appointee is made by social services, we will not make any inquiries of the Public Guardianship Office. We follow the normal appointment process. If it later transpires that there is a registered attorney, with power over the customer’s financial affairs, and they object to a social services Department being the appointee we would review the appointment.

Sandra Gidley: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what procedures are followed before an appointeeship is granted to a social service Department to receive pensions and other benefits due to pensioners and others. [92804]

Mr. Plaskitt: If the social services Department is already acting as appointee for other customers and so understands its role and responsibilities, the only issue is to confirm that the benefit recipient is incapable of managing their own affairs. This will be done by visiting the customer unless wholly conclusive medical evidence has been provided. In either case an authorised representative of the social services Department must also complete the appropriate documentation—this confirms the role and responsibilities of the appointee in relation to the individual customer.

If the social services Department is new to the role of an appointee, the Department will visit the social services Department to discuss this, and visit the customer to confirm that they are unable to act for themselves. Again, the appropriate documentation will be completed.

David Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what arrangements his Department has in place to provide hospital in-patients with access to application forms for incapacity benefit. [92755]

Mrs. McGuire: Claims for incapacity benefit are normally made by telephone through Jobcentre Plus contact centres. If a customer contacts the Department while in hospital and is unable to provide relevant information on that day, arrangements can be made for a scheduled call-back to be undertaken when the customer leaves hospital to a nominated phone number, either landline or mobile.

Clerical claim forms can be requested by telephone or in writing, either in person or by a representative, for completion by the person claiming benefit.

If necessary, visits can be made where a claim cannot be made using normal methods, for example, where we need to confirm that someone is unable to manage their affairs while in hospital and a representative wishes to make a claim on their behalf.

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Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions in how many cases where people have been found dead and where an inquest has been held somebody has (a) been in receipt of a carer’s allowance and (b) been having the attendance allowance paid to them for care since the individual’s death. [92774]

Mrs. McGuire: The administration of attendance allowance and carer’s allowance is a matter for the Chief Executive of the Disability and Carers Service, Mr. Terry Moran. He will write to the hon. Member.

Letter from Terry Moran, dated 18 October 2006:

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