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Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what estimate her Department has made of the number of local authorities which have introduced technology which is able fully to interact with the National Land Information Service. 
Mr. Woolas: The National Land Information Service (NLIS) is a system allowing land and property searches to be made electronically, speeding up the conveyancing process. As at April 2006, all local authorities can accept searches via NLIS. Over 100 authorities can accept the delivery of searches straight into their Local Land Charges system, i.e. they can fully interact with NLIS.
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what (a) targets were set and (b) (i) traffic lights and (ii) benchmarks were applied to local authorities by the Implementing Electronic Government programmes in relation to the implementation of the National Land Information Service. 
Mr. Woolas: In December 1998, the National Land Information Service (NLIS) project was awarded £2.3 million from the Governments Invest to Save Budget. Evaluation of this project is in line with standard procedures for ISB funded work and did not fall within traffic light targets for Implementing Electronic Government (IEG) programmes.
Margaret Moran: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many registered social landlord (RSL) homes were sold in 2005-06, broken down by (a) RSL and (b) local authority area. 
Yvette Cooper: Sales of the numbers of registered social landlord (RSLs) homes to sitting tenants for RSLs operating in England are collected by the Regulatory and Statistical Return of the Housing Corporation and can be analysed by RSL or local authority. The Regulatory and Statistical Return long form is only completed by those RSLs that own more than 250 dwellings and bedspaces. The return is split into 12 parts with only two parts containing information across local authority areas. Therefore not all the information about RSL sales to sitting tenants is available at local authority level.
Table 1 shows sales to sitting tenants in 2005-06 by RSLs for only those RSLs that reported sales. Split into those sales there were Right to Buy/Right to Acquire and all other sales to sitting tenants; Source: Part K Housing Corporation Regulatory and Statistical Return (long) 2006.
Table 2 shows for all local authorities irrespective of whether or not sales were reported in their area the number of Right to Buy/Right to Acquire sales in 2005-06; Source: Part O Housing Corporation Regulatory and Statistical Return (long) 2006.
Meg Munn [holding answer 11 July 2006]: I refer the hon. Member to the Governments response in the Treasury Minute on the Second Report from the Committee of Public Accounts 2005-06 on The Regeneration of the Millennium dome and Associated Land (copies of which are in the Libraries of both Houses).
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what estimate the Government have made of the revenue to the Exchequer from the millennium/02 dome once it is open to the public as an entertainment venue as part of the profit share agreement; and whether this estimate has assumed a casino usage for the site. 
Margaret Moran: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the levels of take-up have been of online services since the Connect to Your Council campaign was instigated, broken down by local authority. 
Mr. Woolas: Among internet users, market research figures show that people accessing council websites has risen by 88 per cent. from 1 in 11 pre-campaign to 1 in 6 post-campaign. The level of online service take-up since the commencement of the campaign broken down by individual local authority is not recorded, but independent evidence from both the Society of Information Technology Management (SOCITM) and web traffic monitoring company Hitwise show Directgov accounting for 10 per cent. of total visits to local authority websites in June. Copies of the Central Office of Information (COI) evaluation report on the impact of the first burst of the campaign are available from the Department for Communities and Local Government website.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) what the arrangements are for the payment of pensions to people who retire early through ill-health for each pension scheme for which her Department is responsible; what the incidence of ill-health retirement was as a percentage of all retirement in such schemes in each year since 1988-89; and if she will make a statement; 
Under the current provisions of the Local Government Pension Scheme in England and Wales, ill-health retirement benefits are paid to scheme members who cease a local government, or comparable employment, by reason of permanent ill-health or infirmity of mind or body. The benefits are enhanced incrementally depending on the length of scheme membership.
The incidence of ill-health retirement in the scheme, as a percentage of all retirements since 2000-01 is
shown in the following table. Information before 2000-01 is not held centrally.
|Ill-health retirements||All retirements||Ill-health retirements as percentage of total|
Prior to September 2004, a member of the Firefighters Pension Scheme 1992 was entitled to an ill-health retirement pension if permanently disabled from engaging in firefighting. Thereafter, the scheme was amended to limit the entitlement to a person who is permanently unfit for engaging in firefighting or performing other duties appropriate to his role as a firefighter, other than or in addition to engaging in firefighting.
The 1992 Pension Scheme was further amended in July 2006 to introduce two tier ill-health retirement arrangements. A person is entitled to an upper tier award if incapable of undertaking regular work. Regular employment is defined as meaning employment for 30 hours a week on average over a period of not less than 12 consecutive months. The accrued pension is enhanced. The pension of a person with a lower tier award is not enhanced.
In the period 1994-99, the incidence of ill-health retirements as a percentage of all retirements was 68 per cent. From 1999-2000 to 2004-05 the figures were as shown as follows. Figures for 2005-06 are not yet available.
|Ill-health retirements for regular firefighters in England|
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) what the (a) present and (b) future retirement age arrangements are for each public sector pension scheme for which her Department has responsibility; and if she will make a statement; 
Mr. Woolas: The normal retirement age in the Local Government Pension Scheme is 65. Members can choose to retire early without employer consent from age 60, or with employer consent between 50 and 60, and in these cases the pension may be subject to actuarial reduction. From age 50 pension can also come into payment on grounds of efficiency or redundancy. The scheme also provides for pension on grounds of ill health at any age once the qualification test is satisfied.
The accrual rate for the 1992 Firefighters' Pension Scheme are l/60th of pensionable pay for each year of the first 20 years of service and 2/60th for the remaining 10 years, to give a maximum of 40/60th.
The 1992 scheme is now closed to new members and firefighters recruited since 6 April 2006 will be members of the New Firefighters' Pension Scheme 2006. The new scheme has been subject to consultation and we expect to make the order bringing the new scheme into operation shortly. The normal retirement age for members of the 2006 scheme will be 60.
Neither firefighters' scheme provides for compulsory retirement and, subject to the agreement of the employing authority, members may continue in employment with membership of the relevant pension scheme once they reach the normal pension/retirement age.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what savings estimate she has made of the effect on costs of the reforms to public sector pensions agreed with trades unions in 2005 for each year between 2006-07 and 2050-51; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Woolas: The changes made this year to the Local Government Pension Schemes after extensive consultations with major stakeholders will produce savings of some 2.5 per cent. to 3 per cent. of pensionable payroll. Some 50 per cent. of this saving is being used to provide either transitional protection or is being recycled into a new-look scheme for scheme members, planned to come into force from 1 April 2008.
The pension arrangements for firefighters were also reviewed outside the Public Service Forum and details of the new arrangements aimed at modernising and tackling the high cost and inflexibility of the Firefighters' Pension Scheme 1992 were announced on 8 September 2005, in Firefighters' Pension Scheme circular 2/2005, following public consultation.
The new arrangements which were implemented for entrants to the fire and rescue service from 6 April are estimated to cost 22.7 per cent. of pensionable pay compared with 37.5 per cent. from the 1992 scheme.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the current estimate is of the unfunded liability, in present value terms, of each public sector pension scheme for which her Department is responsible; and on what assumptions for (a) discount rate and (b) longevity the estimate is based. 
Mr. Woolas: The latest available information about the unfunded liabilities of the Firefighters' Pension Scheme is set out in the note laid in the House of Commons Library by my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary on 2 March 2006. The Local Government Pension Scheme is a funded scheme.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what recent estimate she has made of the (a) rate and (b) annual cost of employer contributions in each public sector pension scheme for which her Department has responsibility; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Woolas: For the period up to the financial year 2007-08,1 refer to the answer given on 17 July 2005, Official Report, column 125W, to the hon. Member for Meriden (Mrs. Spelman). Employer contribution rates are set for three-year periods by the actuarial valuation undertaken for each local government pension scheme administering authority. The next valuation, due at 31 March 2007, will set new employer costs for a three-year period from 1 April 2008 onwards. Employers' contributions in 2005-06 totalled £4.1 billion.
The rate of the employer contribution for each member of the Firefighters' Pension Scheme 1992 is 26.5 per cent. of pensionable pay, and for each member of the New Firefighters' Pension Scheme 2006, 14.2 per cent. Total current estimated employers' costs are approximately £215 million.
|Period||Number of complaints received|
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