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Ruth Kelly: The latest consolidated data is from the survey of Member Allowances, IDeA, 2004. On average, councillors in England received £5,187 in basic allowances per annum. In addition, 46.8 per cent. of councillors also received a special responsibility allowance (SRA). An overall estimate of average SRA payments is not available.
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government on how many occasions since 2002 civil servants in her Department, including the former Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, and its agencies have been given permission to attend the Labour Party conference to carry out departmental business. 
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will place in the Library copies of the letters of appointment of each of her Departments special advisers. 
Ruth Kelly: My special advisers are appointed under terms and conditions set out in the Model Contract for Special Advisers, a copy of which is in the Library of the House. Individual letters of appointment are confidential between the employer and the employee and therefore not for publication.
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 19 January 2007, Official Report, column 1353W, to the hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar (Mr. Pickles) on domestic violence, what additional funding is being provided to local authorities to install Sanctuary Schemes. 
Ruth Kelly: My Department has allocated £47.2 million to local authorities to help them tackle and prevent homelessness in their area for 2007-08. They may choose to use a proportion of this money to fund Sanctuary Schemes. However work in the London borough of Barnet has shown that in one year the installation of 40 sanctuaries, which cost approximately £68,000, led to an estimated saving of approximately £600,000. We anticipate significant savings for local authorities on this basis, due to the reduction in costs associated with homelessness within communities.
Rob Marris: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether the regional spatial strategies will take account of the (a) effects on the costs of future flood defences of the effects of climate change and (b) the costs of flood defences on the long-term sustainability of development; and if she will make a statement. 
Yvette Cooper: The Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS) provides the long term spatial planning framework for a region for a 15 to 20 year period, with the objective of contributing to the achievement of sustainable development. In considering climate change and the long term sustainability of development, the costs of flood defences are taken into account alongside other matters, including the availability of resources.
We have recently consulted on a draft Planning Policy Statement (PPS) Planning and Climate Change. This sets out our proposals on how planning should contribute to stabilising climate change and take into account the unavoidable consequences. Regional Planning Bodies will be expected to prepare and deliver RSSs for their regions that secure new development and shape places resilient to the effects of climate change in ways consistent with social cohesion
and inclusion. These RSSs should be informed by sustainability appraisals which integrate social, environmental and economic considerations from the start of the plan-making process.
Regions will be expected to consider their vulnerability to climate change; the desirability of avoiding new development in those areas with likely increased vulnerability to climate change, particularly where it is not viable to manage likely risks through suitable measures to provide resilience; and, bring forward adaptation options for existing development in likely vulnerable areas.
The draft PPS builds on our policies in PPS25 Development and Flood Risk which sets out the detailed considerations applicable to taking flood risk into account in determining strategic planning considerations in the RSS for a region.
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what her latest estimate is of the (a) minimum, (b) average and (c) maximum cost of a (i) home information pack and (ii) energy performance certificate. 
Yvette Cooper: Hostels are already regulated. Most are owned by registered social landlords (RSLs) and so are regulated by the Housing Corporation. This ensures that hostels have appropriate procedures in place to ensure that the hostel has the right management systems for maintaining good quality temporary homes and, where suitable, the right level of support services.
Services in hostels which are funded by Supporting People (SP) are expected to work to minimum standards of service provision set out in an SP quality assessment framework. All services are also subject to review to ensure that they provide a good quality service to their users, are value for money and meet objectives sat out in local SP strategies and other local and national strategies.
In addition, we have published a best practice toolkit to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of hostels and are investing £90 million in a hostels capital improvement programme to help improve the physical standards and reshape services in hostels.
Mr. Slaughter: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what progress has been made by the Hostels Capital Improvement Programme in improving the quality of life of homeless people; and if she will make a statement. 
Yvette Cooper: The Hostels Capital Improvement Programme has made significant progress. Over £90 million is going to be invested in around 150 projects in 47 local authority areas. The funding is underpinned by the need to change the very nature of hostels to provide better opportunities for people who have experienced homelessness and prevent them from becoming homeless again. Through the programme, hostels will cease to be places of last resort, but instead will be centres of excellence and choice which positively change lives.
Mr. Slaughter: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment she has made of the appropriateness of the current balance between first stage and second stage hostel accommodation. 
Yvette Cooper: It is the responsibility of local authorities, in discussion with stakeholders, to consider the need for hostel provision in their areas to help inform their homelessness strategies and supporting people strategies. This will enable authorities to make an assessment of needs and resources, identifying gaps in the system and setting priorities.
Yvette Cooper: Local planning authorities can control the number, size and type of affordable housing built in their areas through the planning system. In support of this, we have been encouraging them to develop their strategic housing role, including the assessment of future needs for affordable housing.
New supply of affordable housing is provided mainly by the Housing Corporation through the National Affordable Housing Programme and some is provided without grant by developers under S106. The Housing Corporation and individual Registered Social Landlords work closely with local authorities to deliver increased amounts of affordable housing. We have set ourselves the target of delivering 30,000 social rented units in 2007-08a 50 per cent. increase on 2004-05 levels.
In addition, we are also examining the scope for high performing local authorities and their ALMOs to build more social housing for retained ownership. This might entail partnerships between authorities, ALMOs and developers, using local authority land. Such schemes could complement development led by Registered Social Landlords where it provides value for money.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether Supporting People agencies have powers to commission home improvement agencies through competitive tendering. 
Mr. Woolas: Individual administering authorities are responsible for the local delivery of Supporting People services. The way in which they do this is a matter for them in accordance with the local needs and priorities set out in their Supporting People five-year strategy.
Administering authorities have the discretion to enter into contracts with providers through competitive tendering for the provision of home improvement agency services but they are not obliged to do so. In some cases, administering authorities provide these services on an in-house basis.
Mr. Woolas: Communities and Local Government (CLG) allocate Supporting People funding to 150 administering authorities and not to an agency. Administering authorities have responsibility for developing, delivering and monitoring the Supporting People programme locally based on local needs and priorities set out in their Supporting People five-year strategy.
Funding allocations to individual authorities in 2004-05, 2005-06 and 2006-07 are published on the Supporting People website at www.spkweb.org.uk All administering authorities also receive an administration grant from CLG, which contributes towards the cost of running (for example, data collection and maintaining an effective IT system) the Supporting People programme.
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what powers local authorities which already have all-out elections would have to establish single member wards under the provisions of the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Bill. 
Ruth Kelly: We stated in the White Paper that we will enable any council that holds whole council elections to request that the Electoral Commission undertakes a review for the purpose of re-warding the area with single member wards. It is our intention, during the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Bills remaining Parliamentary stages, to introduce by amendment the necessary provisions into that Bill.
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what estimate she has made of the expenditure implications of the creation of directly-elected executives in a local authority. 
Ruth Kelly: An assessment of the costs of implementing all of the proposals in the White Paper Strong and prosperous communities including directly elected executives, was published in the regulatory impact assessment on 26 October 2006.
Mr. Woolas: The minimum guaranteed formula grant increase from one year to the next, known as the floor, has to be paid for from within the total formula grant available. Our current method of paying for the floor, scaling back increases in grant above the floor, was the most widely supported when we last consulted on this in 2005. We are currently reviewing the distribution of formula grant for the next three year settlement, from 2008-09 to 2010-11.
Ruth Kelly: My Department does not collect this information. Information on chief executives pay can be obtained from the local government employers website (http://www.lge.gov.uk).
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether the portfolio of a member of a directly elected executive could be changed by the leader of the council after the election of that executive under her proposals for reform of local government. 
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