The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (Angela E. Smith): The Department has today published a Strategy for the Fire and Rescue Service Working with Children and Young People.
Children and young people are particularly vulnerable to death and injury by fire, especially in deprived households. Fire-related crime, including arson, hoax calls and attacks on firefighters, and anti-social behaviour are disproportionately committed by children and young people, especially disadvantaged young people. Early and effective intervention, diversion and education can reduce crime, improve life chances, develop better citizens and safer communities and make the difference between life and death.
The fire and rescue service has a strong track record in this area. It has particular strengths in supporting vulnerable and disadvantaged young people and reducing risks to them and to their communities. But in the context set by the Governments commitment to better services for children and young people, the service has many challenges to meet in common with many organisations that work with young people.
At the centre of the Children and Young Peoples Strategy is a new approach. This involves a new commitment to involving children and young people, joint development and delivery with partners, comprehensive evaluation and review of impact, and high quality professional development for those involved in working with young people. We believe this is the path to provision for children and young people which is focused on effective risk reduction, is targeted on the disadvantaged and tailored to individual needs, and is a mainstream activity for the service. Copies of the strategy are available in the Libraries of both Houses.
The Minister for Housing and Planning (Yvette Cooper): The Government are today announcing support for 29 areas across the country who have bid to become new growth points, combining increased housing with new jobs, town centre regeneration and higher design and environmental standards.
Last year the Government announced plans to increase housing supply as part of the response to Kate Barkers review. More houses are needed to help first
time buyers, address overcrowding and keep up with rising demand. We are living longer and more people are living alone. If we continue to build at currently planned levels, the proportion of 30-year-old couples able to afford their own home will fall from over 50 per cent. today to nearer 30 per cent. in 20 years time.
But it is vital that new homes are built alongside jobs growth and infrastructure investment in order to deliver sustainable communities for the future. That is why, alongside other measures on planning, affordable housing and infrastructure funding, we invited local authorities and partners to put forward proposals for new homes as part of sustainable growth.
Following a review of these new growth point proposals across Government and in particular in consultation with DEFRA and DfT and their agencies, we are announcing a total of 29 areas, put forward by over 70 local authorities which we are supporting. We are also publishing Partnership for Growth, a summary of these proposals, copies of which will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses. Subject to consultation, testing and examination through the regional and local plan making processes, these proposals have the potential to add a total of up to 100,000 additional homes by 2016, an increase of around 30 per cent. on previous plans for housing supply in these areas.
These proposals involve substantial jobs growth, town centre regeneration and measures to improve the quality of life and environment. Most of the bids include major employment proposalsover 130,000 jobs in the south-west and east of England regions alone. They include measures to improve skills, promote business start up, create new employment sites and widen the local economic base. They also include proposals to invest in green spaces and the local environment as well as town centre regeneration.
Achieving this potential for sustainable, realistic and affordable growth will require a strong long term commitment between Government, their agencies and local partners. The partnership we are announcing today is based on four principles:
First, we want to work with local authorities to support the early delivery of more housing and ensure the type of housing provided responds to local and market conditions and affordability pressures.
Secondly, we want to achieve growth which is sustainable, supporting schemes which set the highest standards of design and are exemplars of sustainable development, supporting the local environment and promoting ways to cut carbon emissions. These new developments will also be underpinned by the forthcoming planning policy statement on climate change and the code for sustainable homes to help reduce the carbon footprint of new housing, and lead the way towards our longer term aim of zero carbon development.
Thirdly, we will work with local partners to ensure that infrastructure and services keeps pace with people and homes. We have begun a cross-Government process to support the new growth points involving all the major transport and environment agencies, as well as other regional and local partners. There is potential to make better health and education an integral feature of new design.
On environmental infrastructure the programme should enable partners to identify and plan for the additional water supply, sewerage, waste and other environmental infrastructure their proposals require. They will then be able to show how these needs will be addressed when their specific detailed proposals come forward;
On transport we need to achieve more sustainable travel outcomes, for example through the design and location of new development encouraging more use of bus, cycling and walking and minimising any increase in long distance commuting. We will continue to encourage partners to exploit existing public transport networks in determining the most sustainable locations for growth but we recognise that additional infrastructure will also be needed.
The Government have established the Treasury CSRO7 review to ensure that departmental resources across Government are targeted appropriately for providing the national, regional and local infrastructure necessary to support future housing and population growth.
Fourthly, we recognise that to deliver growth successfully requires dedicated resources, specialist expertise and the ability to work closely with the private sector to optimise the potential for their investment. The funding we are announcing today will help local partners carry out critical studies on environmental and transport issues. In addition we will be asking English partnerships to work closely with the individual growth points to discuss what type of delivery support will be needed, how best that can be provided and to advise on the detailed programmes of development.
New growth point status means that Government and local partners agree the potential for growth, and are committed to working together to ensure that growth will be sustainable, realistic and affordable. This shared assessment can inform the RSS process. It is up to the regional spatial strategies (RSS) to determine, among other things, the scale and distribution of provision for new housing. Specific site allocations must be decided through the local development framework (LDF) process.
We are also pleased to announce initial funding allocations to each of the new growth points to support the work. These initial allocations, totalling £40 million, are for both capital projects and revenue support for studies and capacity building. Allocations are subject to detailed negotiation and appraisal of projects to ensure maximum benefit can be achieved from spending in 2007-08. Allocations for future years will be subject to the outcome of the CSR and we intend that from 2008-09 funding will be linked to local area agreements so as to give local partners greater flexibility on delivery. Consultation is still underway about the arrangements for LAAs and a statement will be made about this shortly.
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