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15 Jan 2007 : Column 849W—continued


This answer does not include Government offices for the regions who carry out functions on behalf of 10 Government Departments.

Departmental IT Costs

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what effect on costs has been achieved by her Department outsourcing IT through the Steria contract; and if she will make a statement. [115704]

Angela E. Smith: The outsourcing of core IT services to Steria is currently forecast to deliver savings of approximately £22 million over seven years.


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Departmental Staff

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 7 December 2006, Official Report, column 699W, on departmental staff, whether any staff in the ministerial office of the Deputy Prime Minister received a performance-related bonus in 2005-06. [114565]

Angela E. Smith: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to the hon. Member for Meriden (Mrs. Spelman) on 7 December 2006, Official Report, column 699W.

Design for Manufacture

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the estimated sale price is of the (a) affordable and (b) market-priced homes in each of the Design for Manufacture competition areas. [114348]

Yvette Cooper: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given 3 July 2006, Official Report, column 760W. The position is as indicated in my previous answer, subject to any necessary adjustments developers make to account for increases in costs and value over time.

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government when she expects properties in the Design for Manufacture competition areas to go onto the market. [114394]

Yvette Cooper: Each of the 10 sites that English Partnerships has put forward for the competition is at a slightly different point in the process. They have different estimated start and completion dates and there will, therefore, be different dates when the homes on each site will be placed on sale.

The start of work on each site will vary according to when issues such as detailed planning consent and contractual arrangements have been completed. The length of time it will take to complete each site also varies as they are of different scales.

However, current estimates indicate that the first properties will come on to the market in April this year on the site at Renny Lodge in Newport Pagnell.

Energy Certificates

Mr. Lancaster: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the level of demand was for energy certificates in each year since 2000. [112777]

Yvette Cooper: There was no statutory requirement to produce energy certificates in the years 2000 to date. Some commercial organisations have been voluntarily declaring their energy performance during this period but there are no central records of demand.


15 Jan 2007 : Column 851W

English Regions Network

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much funding the Government has provided to the English Regions Network in each year since its establishment; and for what purpose. [114757]

Mr. Woolas: The total level of Government grant made to English Regions Network since 2001 is as follows:

£

2001-02

1,000,000

2002-03

200,000

2003-04

200,000

2004-05

200,000

2005-06

200,000

2006-07

240,000


The main purpose of English Regions Network is to represent the collective views of regional assemblies, share best practice and facilitate inter-regional networking amongst them and to commission research work of mutual interest.

Fire Deaths

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the total number of reductions of accidental fire-related deaths in the home has been in each of the last five years; and how much was spent on fire safety campaigns in each year. [115709]

Angela E. Smith: The information required is provided in the following table:

Year Deaths in accidental dwelling fires Year Fire safety media budget (£ million)

2001

321

2001-02

(1)

2002

265

2002-03

4.8

2003

302

2003-04

6.3

2004

230

2004-05

5.7

2005

212

2005-06

4.3

(1 )Information could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Statistics for fire deaths in dwellings is recorded by calendar year. Budget for the fire safety media campaign is allocated on a financial year basis.

Fire Risk Assessments

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government which estimate she has made of the cost to Government to date of making fire risk assessments. [115300]

Angela E. Smith: We have not sought to ascertain what Government Departments and bodies may have spent on making fire risk assessments of their premises. Nonetheless, we would expect the costs to be similar to those estimated for business and identified in the Regulatory Impact Assessment that accompanied the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. I have placed copies of that assessment in the House Library.


15 Jan 2007 : Column 852W

Freedom of Information

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what Freedom of Information Act 2000 requests her Department and the former Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has received since inception of that legislation that were (a) subject to internal review, (b) appealed to the Information Commissioner and (c) appealed subsequently to the Information Tribunal, broken down by (i) topic and (ii) conclusion. [114404]

Angela E. Smith: Details of the number and outcomes of Freedom of Information (FOI) reviews carried out in Communities and Local Government and the former Office of the Deputy Prime Minister can be found in “Freedom of Information Annual Report 2005: Operation of the FOI Act in central government”, Tables 6 and 7, published in May 2006 by the Department for Constitutional Affairs. More recent statistics on the Department’s performance will be included in the 2006 report when it is published later in the year. The Department does not collate information broken down by topic. Only one CLG case has so far been referred to the Information Tribunal by a requester, and this may be found on the Information Tribunal’s website

among the pending cases.

Funding Settlements

Tim Farron: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what plans her Department has to review local government settlements; and if she will make a statement. [114439]

Mr. Woolas: We have said that we do not intend to make retrospective amendments except if a major systematic error were to be discovered. I have already announced that, in the interests of making local government settlements more stable and predictable, I do not intend to retrospectively amend any year's settlement, except in entirely exceptional cases.

Government Office for London

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many staff were employed by the Government Office for London in each year since 1996-97; and what the forecast is for 2006-07. [114826]

Angela E. Smith: The Government Office for London (GOL) staffing figures from 1996-97 are as follows:


15 Jan 2007 : Column 853W
As at April: Number( 1)

1996

(2)

1907(3)

274

1998(3)

305

1999

390

2000

370

2001

240

2002

260

2003

288

2004

325

2005

308

2006(4)

303

2007(5)

273

(1 )Prior to 2005 GOL staffing figures were calculated as those staff working in GOL on GOL business. Figures did not include those seconded into GOL who were paid for by their own employer. Figures up to April 2005 do not include staff on outward secondment, outward loan, maternity leave, special leave, and career breaks for whom we did not pay but who had a right of return to GOL in the future.
(2 )No data held.
(3 )March.
(4 )Due to the outsourcing of the HR function for all Government Offices and the move to a central database, staffing figures are now calculated as those staff working in GOL on GOL business and on GOL's payroll. In addition, figures include staff on outward secondment, outward loan, maternity leave, special leave, and career breaks for whom we do not pay but who have a right of return to GOL in the future.
(5 )This is based on staffing levels as at 31 December 2006. In line with the Treasury review of the GO network, GOL plans to reduce its staffing to approximately 250 by December 2008.

Government Office for the North East

Dr. Blackman-Woods: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the cost to public funds is of the planning directorate of the Government office for the north east. [107795]

Yvette Cooper: There is no planning directorate as such within GO-NE. Planning-related functions are carried out by a number of teams.

The Planning Team deal with local development plans and individual planning applications which may be called in. Their salary costs are budgeted for as £260,000 in 2006-07. The Strategy Team co-ordinates the Government response to the Regional Spatial Strategy which will determine the development framework for the region for the next 10 years. The Strategy Team's salary costs for 2006-07 are to be £214,000, however they are expected to decrease after the Secretary of State's modifications are published in 2007.

Home Inspectors

Mr. Lancaster: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment she has made of the numbers of home inspectors needed to meet the level of demand for energy certificates. [112779]

Yvette Cooper: We estimate that from 1 June between 2,500 and 4,500 properly trained inspectors will be needed to produce Energy Performance Certificates required for Home Information Packs and voluntary Home Condition Reports.


15 Jan 2007 : Column 854W

Mr. Lancaster: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the planned timetable is for the preparation of the new Energy Inspector Qualification. [112780]

Yvette Cooper: The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) has accredited the Awarding Body for the Built Environment (ABBE) as the first awarding body for the Domestic Energy Assessor (DBA) qualification. City and Guilds and the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) are also both intending to develop a qualification and early indications from those organisations are that their qualifications will be available from early February and early March respectively.

Housing

Mr. David Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what steps her Department is taking to bring social housing up to the decent homes standard. [109101]

Yvette Cooper: Since 1997 we have reduced the number of non-decent homes by more than 1 million. We have increased the funding available to Councils to invest in improvement of their stock to about £1,100 per Council per home compared with spend equivalent of £800 in 1997. This is a 30 per cent. increase in real terms. On top of that we will have also made £3.7 billion available for ALMOs delivering improvements to council housing stock, and £2.7 billion for PFI schemes by March 2008. In total over £20 billion of public money has been invested in improving council housing since 1997. In addition £7.8 billion of private funding has been levered through stock transfer and private finance initiatives.

We expect 95 per cent. of the stock to be decent by 2010 and the majority of landlords making all their stock decent in this timescale. Work will have been completed to 3.6 million homes, with improvements for 8 million people in total, 2.5 million children among them.

Mr. Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Bristol East of 7 December 2006, Official Report, column 706W, on housing, what proportion of each category of housing stock was empty as at October 2005 in the south-west, broken down by local authority. [109389]

Yvette Cooper: The estimated proportions of vacant housing stock by tenure at October 2005 in south-west local authorities are shown in the following table. These estimates are based on all vacancies, including those of less than six months.


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