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21 Mar 2007 : Column 990W—continued

Local Government Finance

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment she has made of the effect of the proposed right to manage on local authority finances. [124419]

Ruth Kelly: Groups of tenants of local authorities have had a right to manage their homes since the introduction of The Housing (Right to Manage) Regulations 1994. A local authority is required to provide reasonable support to the group to assist it to set up a tenant management organisation. The tenant empowerment programme (TEP), now administered by the housing corporation, provides financial support to developing tenant management organisations. In the main stage of development, the local authority is required to contribute 25 per cent. of the TEP funding. Typically a local authority will contribute about £28,000 towards the development, spread over three or four years.

Once a tenant management organisation is up and running, its activities are funded from management and maintenance allowances paid for the functions for which they are responsible. These allowances are based on the local authorities' own level of expenditure for those functions.

We are currently reviewing the right to manage regulations with a view to simplifying the process. A simpler process will reduce both the time and the cost of developing a tenant management organisation, though it may also encourage more tenants groups to explore the option. As part of the review we will assess the impact of proposed new regulations, including the impact on local authorities.

Local Government: Equal Pay

Michael Gove: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will make a statement on the implementation of single status and equal pay in local government; and what estimate she has made of the number of local authorities which have not yet fully implemented equal pay. [128598]

Mr. Woolas: The Government are fully committed to equality for all in the workplace, including the principle of equal pay for work of equal value. It is for local authorities, as employers, to tackle equal pay proactively and in an affordable manner. The Local Government Employers are currently conducting a survey of their members to identify how many have implemented the Single Status Agreement and when the remainder expect to do so.

Local Government: Standards

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government which (a)
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regulators and (b) other public sector bodies will have responsibilities for (i) regulating and (ii) auditing, inspecting or otherwise monitoring local authorities following the merger of the Benefits Fraud Inspectorate and the Audit Commission. [127093]

Ruth Kelly: Under proposals set out in the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Bill, the Audit Commission will oversee the inspection of all local services and will continue to appoint and assign auditors to local authorities. The Audit Commission will manage the overall programme of inspection and external assessment of local authorities. Other regulators and inspectorates with responsibilities in this area are the new Ofsted, the Adult Social Care Inspectorate which will replace the Commission for Social Care Inspection, and the existing five criminal justice inspectorates where they have an interest in local authority services.

Maps: Databases

Michael Gove: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether Ordnance Survey’s MasterMap Address Layer 2 includes information on the council tax bands of individual properties. [128447]

Mr. Woolas: No.

Neighbourhood Wardens

James Brokenshire: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many new neighbourhood (a) warden and (b) manager schemes have been established since January 2006. [128219]

Mr. Woolas: Support for neighbourhood management and warden schemes has now been pooled within local area agreements, which focus on achieving a series of public service outcomes agreed between central and local government—in this instance safer and stronger communities. Information is no longer collected at the centre about the number and type of schemes (outputs) that local authorities and their partners choose to adopt to deliver their LAA outcomes.

Non-Domestic Rates

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the average business rates bill in England was in each year since 1997-98. [124479]

Ruth Kelly: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to her by the Minister for Local Government of 13 March 2007, Official Report, column 238W.

Non-Domestic Rates: Safety Measures

Michael Gove: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what account is taken of the presence of (a) anti-fire sprinklers and (b) CCTV cameras by the Valuation Office Agency when calculating the rebate value of business premises for business rates valuations or revaluations. [128502]


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Mr. Woolas: Anti-fire sprinklers and CCTV camera systems are both rated in accordance with The Valuation for Rating (Plant and Machinery) (England) Regulations 2000 (SI 2000 No. 540). However, the Valuation Office Agency makes no addition to the rateable value in cases where fewer than four CCTV cameras are installed, taking the pragmatic view that such cases do not constitute a “system”.

Planning

Mr. Betts: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many planning authorities have adopted a statement of community involvement. [126459]

Mr. Woolas: There have been 224 adopted statements of community involvement as at 28 of February 2007. This represents 56 per cent. of all local planning authorities in England.

Planning Obligations: Lancashire

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what facilities were provided in Lancashire from agreements made under section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 in each of the last 10 years; and what the value was. [125314]

Yvette Cooper: Information on individual section 106 agreements is held by local planning authorities and not collected centrally. The Town and Country Planning (General Development Procedure) (Amendment) (England) Order 2002 (Statutory Instrument 2002 no. 828), which came into effect on 1 July 2002, requires details of planning obligations to be recorded in both Parts I and II of the local planning authority’s planning register, which should be available for public reference.

Public Houses

Mr. Grogan: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what advice she has given to local councils on the criteria to be used in determining change of use of public houses. [125071]

Yvette Cooper: It is up to Local Planning Authorities to determine whether a change of use has taken place. ODPM Circular 03/2005 “Changes of Use of Buildings and Land: The Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987” provides a guide to the Use Class Order as amended by SI2005/85. Copies have been placed in the House Libraries.

Public houses where the primary purpose is the sale and consumption of alcoholic drink on the premises now fall within the A4: “Drinking Establishments” class. Premises in this category have a permitted change of use to A3: “restaurant and café” premises, as well as to both the Al: “Shops” and A2: “Financial and Professional Services” uses. Any other change of use would require planning permission.

The existing primary use will be crucial in determining the appropriate classification. In making a determination as to the correct classification, some account may be taken of factors such as: whether the majority of customers on the premises are consuming
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alcoholic liquor exclusively; whether there is a public house licence; and whether there is any obligation or expectation for customers to consume a meal. Where it is evident that the primary use of the premises is the purchase and consumption of alcoholic liquor on the premises, the use class will normally be A4, irrespective of the square footage which may be given over to dining as an additional service, or the revenue derived from that function.

Regeneration: Lower Lea Valley

Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much her Department has spent on non-Olympic regeneration in the Lower Lea Valley since July 2005; what plans her Department has for such spending; and if she will make a statement. [128405]

Angela E. Smith: To date, since 2005, the Department for Communities and Local Government have spent £37,941,704 on non-Olympic regeneration in the Lower Lea Valley. Regenerating the Lower Lea Valley was a priority, under the Thames Gateway programme, before the announcement of the 2012 Olympic Games coming to London and continues to be a priority as part of the Thames Gateway. The future regeneration of the Lower Lea Valley will be undertaken by the London Thames Gateway Development Corporation. The Development Corporation’s vision for the Lower Lea Valley includes the building of 35,000 homes and the creation of 50,000 jobs by 2016.

Regional Planning and Development: Eastern Region

Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what meetings (a) she and (b) officials in her Department had with Arlington (i) in the period between the Government inspectors report into the East of England Plan and the launch of the consultation and (ii) since the consultation was launched; and if she will make a statement. [128512]

Meg Munn: Ministers have not met with representatives of Arlington in either of the periods in question. Officials have checked their diaries and can find no record of any official-level meeting during these periods either.


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Social Rented Housing

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the average length of stay was for tenants in (a) local authority and (b) registered social landlord accommodation in (i) 1997, (ii) 2001 and (iii) the last year for which figures are available. [126506]

Yvette Cooper: Reliable estimates of how long social housing tenants remain, on average, in the same accommodation are not available. However, estimates of the lengths of uncompleted residence based on the time that existing tenants have spent in their current accommodation are as follows:

Lengths of uncompleted residence (in years) reported by existing social housing tenants
Number of years
Council tenants RSL tenants
Mean Median Mean Median

1997-98

12.4

8.1

8.2

4.5

2001-02

12.8

8.2

9.3

5.2

2005-06

13.6

8.8

10.3

5.9

Source:
Survey of English Housing

It is important to note that since these figures are based on uncompleted lengths of tenure, they are likely to be significantly below the equivalent figures for completed lengths of tenure.

Social Rented Housing: Standards

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many and what proportion of homes (a) in the private sector, (b) rented from local authorities and (c) rented from registered social landlords fell below the decent homes standard in each year since its introduction. [126507]

Yvette Cooper: Since 1997 the Government have been committed to improving the condition of homes, especially in the social sector. The decent homes public service agreement was introduced in the 2000 Spending Review. The condition of the housing stock is monitored by the English House Condition Survey.

All non-decent All LA non-decent All RSL non-decent All private sector non-decent
Number dwellings (Thousand) Percentage of stock Number dwellings (Thousand) Percentage of stock Number dwellings (Thousand) Percentage of stock Number dwellings (Thousand) Percentage of stock

1996

9,099

44.7

1,869

53.9

448

47.6

6,781

42.6

2001

7,063

33.3

1,174

41.8

472

33.2

5,416

31.9

2003

6,717

31.3

975

39.7

467

28.8

5,275

30.3

2004

6,312

29.2

816

34.9

437

26.2

5,060

28.7

2005

5,987

27.5

729

33.7

433

23.8

4,825

27.1

Source:
English House Condition Survey

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether local authorities are required to conduct housing condition surveys of social housing. [127012]

Ruth Kelly: Section 605 of the Housing Act 1985 requires a periodic inspection of housing within its boundaries by the local housing authority.


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The publication ‘Decent Homes: Capturing the standard at the local level’, published in 2000, states it will be necessary to repeat stock surveys periodically, or on a rolling stock survey format to assess the condition of homes that it owns.


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