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23 July 2007 : Column 732W—continued


23 July 2007 : Column 733W

Pathways to Work

Mr. Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what plans he has to enable voluntary and private sector providers to deliver Pathways to Work services at a sub-regional level. [150857]

Caroline Flint: Pathways to Work is currently being delivered to 40 per cent. of the country by Jobcentre Plus. We have invited private, voluntary and public sector providers to bid for contracts to deliver Pathways to Work in the remaining 60 per cent. of the country. Contract areas will be based on Jobcentre Plus Districts rather than regions. This is being tendered in two waves with the first 15 districts going live in December 2007 and the remaining 16 districts in April 2008.

Pensions: Financial Assistance Scheme

Mr. Touhig: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what the average payment will be under the Financial Assistance Scheme for a member of the Abingdon Carpets pension scheme; [147298]

(2) how many members of the Abingdon Carpets pension scheme are forecast to receive 80 per cent. of their core pension under the Financial Assistance Scheme. [147300]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: Abingdon Carpets’ pension scheme qualified for Financial Assistance Scheme (FAS) on 25 October 2005. Five members of the scheme are currently in receipt of FAS initial payments, these are currently set at 60 per cent. of the expected core pension, but will rise to 80 per cent. once the scheme fully winds up.

The average yearly payment these members receive is 1194.58p (gross), 931.90p (net).

Under the changes to the FAS announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his Budget Statement on 21 March 2007, all qualifying members of a qualifying pension scheme stand to receive 80 per cent. of their expected core pension (subject to the cap)

The changes require regulations which we hope will come into force before the end of the year.

State Retirement Pensions: Wansdyke

Dan Norris: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many recipients of the state retirement pension there are in Wansdyke constituency. [149901]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: The information as at November 2006 is in the following table.

Number

Men

7,350

Women

12,050

Total

19,410

Notes:
1. Figures are rounded to the nearest 10.
2. Totals may not sum due to rounding.
3. The constituency used for the state pension data is that used for the Westminster Parliament.
Source:
DWP Information Directorate, Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study.

23 July 2007 : Column 734W

Taxation: Fringe Benefits

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what recent discussions he has had with the Treasury on the taxation of employee assistance programmes as a benefit in kind. [151076]

Mrs. McGuire: There are regular meetings with Treasury officials on a wide range of matters affecting the Department.

Communities and Local Government

Aerials: Planning Permission

Sandra Gidley: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many new mobile telephone masts were erected in (a) Hampshire and (b) England in each year since 1997. [151048]

Mr. Iain Wright: The information requested is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Anti-Semitism

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what recent assessment she has made of the level of anti-Semitism in the UK; and if she will make a statement. [151002]

Mr. Dhanda: The Department for Communities and Local Government does not carry out assessments on the level of anti-Semitism in the UK. However, hate crime of this nature is a matter the police take seriously. There is good cooperation between the Community Security Trust and police forces in areas with a significant Jewish community.

Council Housing: Newcastle Upon Tyne

Mr. Henderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many council houses are planned to be built (a) in the city of Newcastle upon Tyne and (b) in Newcastle upon Tyne North constituency in each of the next five years. [149852]

Mr. Iain Wright: Plans for new housing will be developed in the context of sub-regional housing strategies. The Housing Green Paper will set out ways to increase the supply of affordable housing, with a bigger role for local authorities.

Council Housing: Standards

Paul Holmes: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many and what proportion of council houses were classified as non-decent (a) in 2004 and (b) at the latest date for which figures are available; and how many and what proportion of the total stock of council houses are awaiting repair. [150086]


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Mr. Iain Wright: In 2004 the English Housing Condition Survey estimated there were 800,000 non-decent council homes representing 35 per cent. of the total council stock. Latest figures from the survey for 2005 estimate a reduction to 730,000 non-decent homes, 34 per cent. of total stock.

The survey also indicates that, among those non-decent homes, 185,000 failed its repair criterion, representing 8 per cent. of total council stock in 2004. For 2005 the figures are 150,000 failing the repair criterion, representing 7 per cent. of total council stock.

In order to be decent, homes must be in a reasonable state of repair. Details of the repair criterion and the decent homes standard are published on the Communities and Local Government website at

Council Tax

Mrs. Lait: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment her Department has made of the reasons for the council tax collection rates of (a) Manchester, (b) Salford and (c) Hackney councils in 2006-07. [152408]

John Healey: The collection and enforcement of council tax is a matter for individual billing authorities. Communities and Local Government has made no assessment of the reasons for 2006-07 collection rates in Manchester, Salford or Hackney. Across England, in-year collection of council tax rose for the seventh successive year in 2006-07, to 96.9 per cent. of the total collectable.

Council Tax: Bankruptcy

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government which local authorities pursue council tax arrears using petitions for bankruptcy; and if she will make a statement. [150885]

John Healey: The information requested is not held centrally.

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will issue guidance to local authorities on the pursuance of council tax arrears using petitions for bankruptcy; and if she will make a statement. [150893]

John Healey: The Council Tax (Administration and Enforcement) Regulations 1992 (SI 1992/613) provide billing authorities with a range of powers to enforce payment of council tax from those who refuse to pay. It is up to each billing authority to consider how best to use these powers in the interests of all their taxpayers who do pay their bills. The Department has no plans to issue guidance on using petitions for bankruptcy.

Departments: Berkeley Group

Mr. Moss: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether the right hon. Member for Hull East met (a) directors,
23 July 2007 : Column 736W
representatives or lawyers acting for and (b) employees of (i) Berkeley Group Holdings plc, (ii) St. George plc, (iii) Berkeley Homes plc, (iv) St. James Group Ltd, (v) Berkeley First Ltd, (vi) Berkeley Commercial Development Ltd and (vii) Berkeley Strategic Land Ltd in a ministerial capacity since June 1997; and whether any officials in her Department held such meetings. [147931]

Mr. Iain Wright: A precise answer to this question could be provided only at disproportionate cost, given the span of 10 years.

Departments: Ministerial Red Boxes

John Hemming: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many ministerial red boxes her Department bought in each of the last five years; what the cost of each was; who the suppliers were; and what tendering process was used in selecting them. [150438]

Mr. Iain Wright: The information for Communities and Local Government and its predecessor Department the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is as follows:

Number of ministerial red boxes Total cost (£)

2003

5

4,888

2004

0

2005

0

2006

3

2,532

2007

0


The supplier was Banner Business Supplies Ltd through a call-off contract arrangement.

Ministerial boxes are used by successive Ministers over many years.

Departments: Public Transport

David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what estimate her Department has made of the number of its staff using public transport to commute. [147322]

Mr. Iain Wright: Based on our most recent sample survey of staff we estimate that 93 per cent. of staff working at London headquarters use public transport for the main part of their journey to work. The Department makes provision for those who wish to cycle to work but limited car parking is only provided for those with medically certified requirements. Loans are available for either season ticket or cycle purchase to encourage the use of these modes of transport.

Derelict Land: Greater London

Mr. Evennett: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many planning applications for housing developments in London on brownfield sites were rejected by the Planning Inspectorate in each of the last five years. [150250]


23 July 2007 : Column 737W

Mr. Iain Wright: The Planning Inspectorate does not record information centrally relating specifically to planning applications on brownfield sites being rejected. It cannot be retrieved without disproportionate cost.

First Time Buyers

Sandra Gidley: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what estimate she has made of the average age of (a) males and (b) females, when they move out of the parental home; and what the average age of first time buyers in (i) Hampshire and (ii) England was in each year since 1997. [151039]

Mr. Iain Wright: Data at the Hampshire level are unavailable due to sample sizes. The information for first time buyers is provided for the UK rather than England.

Based on the Survey of English Housing for 2005-06, the average age of males when leaving the parental home in England was estimated at 25 years. The average age for females in England was estimated at 22 years.

The Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) figures for median age of first time buyers are available on their website at:

This is based on data from all mortgage completions in the UK and the data are presented in the following table:

Median age of first time buyer: UK
Age

1997

29

1998

29

1999

30

2000

30

2001

30

2002

31

2003

31

2004

31

2005

30

2006

29

Source: CML.

Floods: Finance

Mr. Lancaster: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 16 July 2007, Official Report, column 77W, on Floods: Milton Keynes, (1) why Milton Keynes Unitary Authority did not receive a payment from the Flood Recovery Grant Scheme; [151821]

(2) what criteria were used in assessing which local authorities received payments from the Flood Recovery Grant Scheme; [151822]

John Healey: As announced by the Prime Minister on 7 July, the £10 million Flood Recovery Grant Scheme was established to support the work being undertaken by local authorities in helping their communities to recover from the exceptional and widespread flooding which had occurred.


23 July 2007 : Column 738W

Our particular intention was that authorities should use it to help those in greatest and most immediate need, and on that basis we developed a methodology which balanced fairness with moving rapidly to announcing allocations. Informed by a brief and useful consultation with local government, I allocated grant on the basis of the relative numbers of households affected by flooding in lower-tier local authority areas. This was explained in the letters sent by officials notifying chief executives that grant had been allocated to their authorities. The allocations confirmed on both 13 and 20 July were based on the best available such information held at the time of decision.


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