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Written Answers to Questions

Tuesday 17 April 2007

Church Commissioners

Churches: Repairs and Maintenance

Miss McIntosh: To ask the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, representing the Church Commissioners what discussions he has had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the funding of church repairs; and if he will make a statement. [131704]

Sir Stuart Bell: I regularly speak with my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer about a range of church issues. On the issue of church repairs, we continue to engage with all levels of Government and press for the great contribution that churches and cathedrals make to their communities and the whole nation to be better reflected in the funds they receive from the state.

We were therefore very pleased that the Chancellor announced in his Budget statement that he and the Culture Secretary would in the run up to the Spending Review examine the help which Government could give to the churches.

Communities and Local Government

Communities England

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much has been allocated for the annual (a) administrative costs and (b) total budget of Communities England. [129753]

Ruth Kelly: Communities England is expected to combine over £4 billion of public spending on housing and regeneration annually. This estimate is based on current budgets, with the final budget to be agreed as part of CSR07.

Compensation Payments

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 8 January 2007, Official Report, column 365W, on compensation payments, on what dates the damage to the hire vehicles occurred; what divisions of the Department hired the vehicles; what the purpose was of hiring the vehicles; and how the damage occurred. [129430]

Ruth Kelly: These compensation payments, made by the Communities and Local Government predecessor—Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM)—relate to incidents which occurred on 30 July 2004, 17 February 2005 and 3 March 2005. The
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vehicles involved were hired by the ODPM’s Local Government Beacon Councils Team, its Counselling Support Service and the Eastern Rent Assessment Panel for use in the normal course of business. The incidents involved damage to a bumper as a consequence of a vehicle being reversed into a post, damage incurred following a collision with another vehicle and a broken windscreen.

Council Tax

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what estimate she has made of the amount of uncollected council tax in England in each of the last five years. [129761]

Ruth Kelly: The amount of council tax uncollected in England, in each of the last five years, is shown in the following table.

Amount not collected (£ million) Amount not collected as percentage of net collectable debit

1993-94

n/a

7.4

1994-95

n/a

6.6

1995-96

n/a

5.5

1996-97

n/a

4.7

1997-98

428

4.5

1998-99

463

4.4

1999-2000

507

4.4

2000-01

518

4.2

2001-02

518

3.9

2002-03

531

3.6

2003-04

582

3.5

2004-05

594

3.4

2005-06

592

3.2


The figures in the table show the amount of council tax in respect of the financial year not collected in that year. The final column shows this figure as a percentage of the net collectable debit in respect of that year's council taxes—i.e. the income authorities would collect if everyone liable paid, net of estimated receipts of council tax benefit.

Collection of council taxes continues once the financial year to which they relate has ended. This means that the amount not collected will eventually be lower than the figure shown above, and the final amount not collected as a percentage of net collectable debit will be somewhere between the figures shown here and zero. The data are as reported on QRC4 forms submitted by all billing authorities to Communities and Local Government each year.

Departmental Meetings

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 19 January 2007, Official Report, column 1352W, on departmental meetings, if she will place in the Library a copy of the documentation produced (a) for and (b) by the stakeholder representatives at the meeting on 1 November 2006. [129432]

Ruth Kelly: Information relating to internal discussion is not normally disclosed as to do so could
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harm the frankness and candour of discussion between Ministers, advisers and stakeholders.

Departments: Publicity

Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much her Department spent on (a) sponsoring newspaper or publication supplements and (b) advertorials in newspapers or other publications in the latest year for which figures are available; and what the topic was of each publication. [129442]

Angela E. Smith: Where costs for supplements and advertorials are available they are as shown.

The Department has undertaken advertising and advertorials for the Home Information Pack take up campaign but the disaggregated costs could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

The Local E-Gov Take-Up campaign aimed at encouraging citizens to make greater use of on-line council services. There were two phases of advertising in 2006-07. The total spend across both phases was £1.6 million. Of this (a) £24,000 was spent on supplements and on (b) £193,580 was spent on advertorials.

The Female Fire Fighter Awareness campaign aimed at encouraging women to consider the Fire and Rescue Service as a viable career option. There was one burst of advertising in 2006-07. The total spend was £800,000. Of this (a) £5,000 was spent on advertorials and (b) £93,255 was spent in women’s press titles.


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The Fire Safety campaign aimed at reducing the number of deaths and serious injuries. Of the total spend of £3.3 million, the spend on advertorials was £6,860 that ran in the BME media.

Departments: Redundancy

Justine Greening: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) how many people in her Department and its predecessor participated in (a) involuntary and (b) voluntary staff exit schemes in each year since 1997-98; and if she will make a statement; [131540]

(2) how many people in her Department and its predecessor who undertook (a) involuntary and (b) voluntary staff exit schemes in each year since 1997-98, were paid between (i) £0 to £25,000, (ii) £25,001 to £50,000, (iii) £50,001 to £75,000, (iv) £75,001 to £100,000 and (v) over £100,000; and if she will make a statement. [131565]

Angela E. Smith: For details of the staff exit schemes run by the Department for Communities and Local Government and its main predecessor (the former Office of the Deputy Prime Minister) I refer the hon. Member to my earlier answer of 5 March 2007, Official Report, column 1785W.

Details of the numbers of staff in the department and its main predecessor (the former Office of the Deputy Prime Minister) exiting under these schemes, together with information on the lump sums payable to them on exit are set out as follows.

Number undertaking exit schemes by compensation lump sum amounts
Scheme Total £0 to £25,000 £25,001 to £50,000 £50,001 to £75,000 £75,001 to £100,000 Over £100,000

2005-06

Office of the Deputy Prime Minister: voluntary scheme

97

60

15

18

0

4

2006-07

Communities and Local Government: voluntary scheme

155

76

33

20

19

7

2006-07

Government offices for the regions: voluntary scheme

106

59

21

17

3

6

2006-07

Communities and Local Government—Marchington: involuntary scheme

(1)34

25

5

3

1

0

Total

392

220

74

58

23

17

(1) Of which 21 were voluntary exits and 13 involuntary exits.

The compensation paid is calculated using the Civil Service Compensation Scheme rules and is based on the category of exit (voluntary, involuntary, severance or retirement), age, years of eligible service and grade/pay band in the Department.

Numbers are grouped by compensation lump sum amounts received at exit. Each leaver departing after their 50th birthday is also eligible for a monthly compensation amount until they reach normal retirement age (age 60). The monthly compensation amount is based upon, but not equal to, the monthly pension payment in normal retirement.

Departments: Temporary Employment

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much her Department and its predecessor spent on temporary staff in 2005-06; and how many individual staff were employed on a temporary basis. [129749]

Ruth Kelly: In 2005-06 the Department and its predecessor spent just over £2.34 million on salaries for 166 casual staff and 17 staff appointed on fixed term contracts of less than one year. Over the same period payments were made to agency employees, but the extraction of this information would be at disproportionate cost.

Fire Stations: Rayleigh Weir

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government when she expects the new fire station at Rayleigh Wier to be operational. [132247]


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Angela E. Smith: Construction of the new fire station at Rayleigh Wier is expected to be completed by mid-2009 when the commissioning process will begin with a view to the fire station becoming operational by the end of 2009.

Home Information Packs

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what recent estimate she has made of the average cost of a home information pack (HIP); what factors will determine the (a) cost and (b) price of a HIP; and if she will make a statement. [129757]

Ruth Kelly: The price of a home information pack will be set by the market, not by Government. The main components affecting costs are the searches and the energy performance certificate. Searches are already paid for in housing transactions at the moment and their cost varies substantially from area to area. Energy performance certificates are the only new element and could save buyers hundreds of pounds in fuel bills as well as having the potential to help them get access to green mortgages or grants from utility companies for energy saving improvements.

The price of HIPs will also be affected by the level of competition and economies of scale as well as factors such as the size and type of the property. At least one estate agent has said it will provide HIPs for free and others will provide them on a ‘no sale, no fee’ basis.

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether the requirement for home information packs will apply to homes put on the market prior to 1 June 2007 but whose sales have not reached completion before that date. [129762]

Ruth Kelly: Properties put on the market before 1 June 2007 will not be required to obtain a home information pack unless they remain on the market after 31 December.

Housing Data Warehouse

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) pursuant to the answer of 19 January 2007, Official Report, column 1354W, on the Housing Data Warehouse, whether the data provided by the Valuation Office Agency include (a) address data, (b) names of the residents, (c) banding data on individual properties and (d) dwelling house code and value significant code data; [129465]

(2) what the purpose is of the Housing Data Warehouse; how much has been allocated to it for 2007-08; and which Government agencies and Departments will have access to it. [129743]

Ruth Kelly: The data provided by the Valuation Office Agency are limited to the address and council tax banding of domestic properties.

For the purpose of the Housing Data Warehouse I refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 8 November 2006, Official Report, column 1571W, to the hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar (Mr. Pickles).


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