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30 Jan 2007 : Column 282W—continued


In each of the three years 2004-05 to 2006-07, the Department made grants of £125,000 to the National Fluoride Information Centre, which provides scientific information on research studies carried out into the effect of adding fluoride to water and other mediums such as milk and table salt. No funding has yet been allocated for 2007-08 or 2008-09.

Communities and Local Government

Arm's Length Management Organisations

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how the housing debt of local authorities is treated when they (a) opt for large scale stock transfer and (b) set up an arm's-length management organisation; how much debt has been transferred from local authorities as a result of such transfers since 1997; what interest is paid on debt which is managed in that way; who pays the interest on that debt; whether liability for the debt remains in the public sector borrowing account; and what assets stand as security on the debt. [109304]

Yvette Cooper: Upon large-scale voluntary transfer a local authority may use the capital receipt arising from the stock transfer to extinguish housing debt, or may decide it makes better financial sense to continue to
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support the debt that might have been paid off and invest the capital receipt. There may be overhanging debt if the capital receipt from the Registered Social Landlord receiving the stock is insufficient to clear the housing related debt held by the authority with the Public Works Loan Board.

Any overhanging housing debt arising from a housing stock transfer is cleared by a payment from Communities and Local Government. These payments are made from an Annually Managed Expenditure Budget held by the Department. Under this arrangement debt moves from one part of the public sector to another, and in consequence there is no net increase in the public sector borrowing requirement. Around £2.3 billion of overhanging debt payments have been made since 1997. The Exchequer meets the interest payments on debt that it holds.

When a local authority establishes an ALMO to manage its housing stock the treatment of housing related debt does not change. The cost of servicing the debt remains within the authority's Housing Revenue Account.

Local authorities do not use assets as security for borrowing. Rather, borrowing is secured against revenue income streams.

Business Improvement Districts

Mr. Betts: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many business improvement districts have been established; and what assessment she has made of their performance. [111422]

Mr. Woolas: There are currently 36 business improvement districts (BIDs) in England and Wales. A nature and extent study of BIDs in England will be published shortly on the Communities and Local Government website.

Commission on Integration and Cohesion

Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government when she expects to receive the first report of the Commission on Integration and Cohesion; and if she will make a statement. [110965]

Mr. Woolas: The Commission on Integration and Cohesion will publish an interim statement in spring 2007 and will present its final report to the Secretary of State in June 2007.

Correspondence

Sir Michael Spicer: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government when the Minister of State will reply to the letter from the hon. Member for West Worcestershire of 5 December 2006, on spy cameras at household rubbish tips. [112141]

Mr. Woolas: The subject matter of the hon. Member’s letter is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs who will therefore respond directly to it.


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Mr. Winnick: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government when she will reply to the letter of 12 December 2006 from the hon. Member for Walsall, North concerning a constituent. [112508]

Meg Munn: I have now replied to my hon. Friend's letter.

Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government when the Minister of State in her Department will reply to the letters from the hon. Member for Congleton of (a) 19 July, (b) 4 October and (c) 6 December 2006, on the introduction of home information packs. [117525]

Yvette Cooper: I have now responded to the hon. Member's correspondence. I apologise for this unacceptable delay.

Council Houses

Martin Linton: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the average rents were for local authority housing in each London borough in 2006-07. [110767]

Yvette Cooper: Average weekly rent by local authority district is published for the local authority sector on the Communities and Local Government website in Table 702. The link for this table is given as follows:

Council Tax

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 11 December 2006, Official Report, columns 886-7W, on council tax, from which bodies the (a) administrative costs and (b) programme expenditure of the new parish councils in London will be funded. [112088]

Mr. Woolas: As in other areas, where local people in London have decided they want a parish council, and that democratically elected council decides to issue a precept, this will be met by the council taxpayers in the parish and collected by the London borough council for the area.

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what plans she has to offer council tax discounts for homes which grow grass on their roof. [112110]

Mr. Woolas: None. No decisions about any reform to the council tax system will be made until we have carefully considered the recommendations of the final report of the Lyons' inquiry which will be published around the time of the Budget.

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what representations her Department and its predecessor have received on the frequency of council tax revaluations in the last 12 months. [112116]


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Mr. Woolas: The Department does not hold a record of representations received about the frequency of council tax revaluations in the last 12 months.

Domestic Waste

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether her Department maintains a list of councils that have moved to alternate weekly collection of domestic waste. [111982]

Mr. Bradshaw: I have been asked to reply.

The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) is aware of a number of local authorities (LAs) providing alternate weekly collection of household waste and provides support and guidance to these LAs on best practice in operating such a service.

However, as this area is subject to rapid change, WRAP cannot guarantee that information it holds on LAs operating an alternate weekly collection service is up to date.

English Language Promotion

Mr. Ian Austin: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what steps her Department is taking to promote the use of the English language in the UK. [113894]

Mr. Woolas: The Department recognises the importance of promoting the use of the English language in ensuring effective integration, continuing good race relations and building community cohesion. Knowledge of English increases individuals’ employment prospects, educational outcomes, and the ease with which they can carry out day to day life. The Government actively promote English language proficiency. English is part of the national curriculum. Since 2001 we have invested over £1 billion in English for speakers of other languages (ESOL); over 1.8 million ESOL learning opportunities have been taken up; and over 160,000 learners have achieved a first ‘Skills for Life’ ESOL qualification. Those wishing to become British citizens are required to show language competence and from 2 April 2007, this will be extended to those seeking permanent settlement. My Department has asked the independent Commission on Integration and Cohesion to look at this issue as part of its final report in June 2007.

Fire and Rescue Service

Rosie Cooper: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many (a) work-related and (b) fire-related injuries were sustained by West Lancashire fightfighers in each of the last five years. [112218]

Angela E. Smith: The information requested is not held centrally.

This information for the whole of the Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service was provided to the hon. Member for Chorley (Mr. Hoyle) on 22 January 2007, Official Report, column 1520W.


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Mr. Waterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many (a) work-related and (b) fire-related injuries were sustained by East Sussex firefighters in each of the last five years. [116554]

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

Number of East Sussex firefighters injured
At fires Other work related Total

2001-02

39

78

117

2002-03

38

53

91

2003-04

70

78

148

2004-05

38

77

115

2005-06

51

72

123

Note: 15 days were lost because of strike action in 2002-03. Source: Fire and Rescue Service returns to Communities and Local Government.

Home Information Packs

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the minimum amount of time is that must pass before the £200 penalty charge for marketing a home without a Home Information Pack can be repeated if there is an ongoing breach. [114578]

Yvette Cooper: The payment of a penalty charge notice does not entitle the responsible person to continue marketing in breach of the Home Information Pack duties. To do so could render them liable to further penalty charge notices if a local authority weights and measures authority decided on the facts of the individual case that more than one breach of the duties had occurred. The decision on whether to serve a penalty charge notice, and the timing of any further notice, if one has already been served would be a matter for each authority.

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the cost was of the extension to the Home Information Pack dry run. [114725]

Yvette Cooper: As we announced on 21 September 2006, the extension of the Home Information Pack dry run to include six area trials will cost up to £4 million. We will use the funding to ensure that home buyers and sellers in the trial areas understand the benefits of having a full HIP, including a home condition report; to incentivise sellers to buy a HIP; and to employ independent researchers to monitor what is going on so that we get a fully objective picture.

Homebuy Scheme

Julia Goldsworthy: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what estimate she has made of the total value of Government equity loans to be provided as part of the Open Market HomeBuy scheme; and on what basis this estimate has been made. [116252]


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Yvette Cooper: From the 1 April 2006 to end December 2006 the value of the loans provided by the Government as part of Open Market HomeBuy and Expanded Open Market HomeBuy is £76 million. The administration cost associated is £3 million. Alongside the Government's equity loans are significant private sector equity loans to increase the help for first time buyers.

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many households she expects to participate in each of (a) Social Homebuy, (b) Open Market Homebuy and (c) New Build Homebuy in each year of the proposed scheme's operations. [114716]

Yvette Cooper: We are investing £970 million to help 35,000 households into low cost home ownership through the Housing Corporation's two-year programme in 2006-08 with 11,000 through Open Market HomeBuy and 24,000 being assisted through New Build HomeBuy or previous similar shared ownership schemes. The pilots for Social Homebuy are currently under way and the final number of households helped through Social Homebuy will be dependent on participation by social landlords and tenants.

House Building

Andrew Stunell: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether she expects her target of building 200,000 homes a year by 2016 to be met; and if she will make a statement. [110655]

Yvette Cooper: Government’s response to Kate Barker’s Review of Housing Supply, published in December 2005, set out an ambition to increase housing supply to 200,000 per annum by 2016.

Good progress has been made at this early stage. Net additions to the housing stock for 2004-05 stood at
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168,000, up from a low of around 130,000 in 2001-02, and our monitoring suggests that this trend will continue when figures for 2005-06 are published. We will look further at how fast we can increase the deliveries of new homes as part of the spending review.

Housing

Margaret Moran: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment she has made of the effect of reductions in Supporting People budgets on (a) smaller registered social landlords and (b) domestic violence refuges. [107946]

Mr. Woolas: Reductions in the Supporting People budget have been made in line with the findings of the 2004 independent review of the programme. This identified that the then £1.8 billion budget was too much to pay for the services within the programme and did not represent value for public money. Actions have subsequently been taken at the local and national level to address value for money, and reductions in Supporting People budgets have reflected the need to improve efficiency. My Department has provided and ensured support and capacity building for authorities and providers (including small providers) to help them in this work.

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what capital receipts have been received by Birmingham city council from Right to Buy sales in each year since 1995-96; what percentage has been (a) used to repay housing revenue account debt, (b) pooled and (c) available for housing investment in Birmingham; and how much financial support has been provided for Birmingham city council's housing capital expenditure. [116950]

Yvette Cooper: The following table answers my hon. Friend's questions as far as we are able. The notes explain where we have been unable to make a full answer.


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