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Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what provision is being made to reimburse fire services for their costs in dealing with the recent flood emergencies; and what provision is being made to increase their reserves. 
Mr. Dhanda: Two separate schemes of emergency financial assistance have been set up to assist local authorities affected by flooding in June and July. Fire and rescue authorities are eligible for grants from these schemes. Each authority claiming grant must have spent 0.2 per cent. of its revenue budget on eligible activities in the financial year to date. Above that threshold, 100 per cent. of eligible costs will be reimbursed, an increase from the normal 85 per cent. Authorities will also be able to claim grant on eligible expenditure up to six months from the beginning of the emergency. This is an increase from two months under normal Bellwin schemes.
Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what discussions she has had with Severn Vale Housing on providing help to residents who have been flooded in the Tewkesbury constituency; and if she will make a statement. 
I understand that Severn Vale Housing have been in contact with their tenants over the last few days to find out how many are affected by the floods and what their needs are. They have been working with the local authority to secure temporary accommodation for the worst affected tenants by utilising all available bed and breakfast accommodation in the area.
Severn Vale Housing are working with the local authority and Severn Trent Water to identify all their
residents who are vulnerable in order to ensure that they get priority in the delivery of bottled water. They are arranging deliveries of bottled water to all their sheltered accommodation.
It will be several weeks before the full extent of the damage caused by the floods will become clear. My officials are working with Tewkesbury borough council, Severn Vale Housing and other local partners to support them as they assess the needs of those residents affected by the floods.
Mrs. Lait: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what guidance the Audit Commission has given to local authorities in relation to the Freedom of Information Act 2000; and what research the Commission has conducted in relation to that Act. 
The Department for Communities and Local Government has asked me to reply to your parliamentary question on guidance to local authorities in relation to the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
The Audit Commission has not provided general guidance to local authorities on the Freedom of Information Act 2000, as this is primarily a matter for the Information Commissioner. The Commission's auditors and inspectors may, however, have had discussions with individual local authorities as part of their work.
As part of a wider Audit Commission national study on Making better use of information to drive improvement in public services, the Audit Commission commissioned the Constitution Unit of University College London (UCL) to undertake research into Freedom of Information. This resulted in a report Improving access to and use of public sector information (Helping local authorities to develop good practice in the context of the Freedom of Information Act 2000). This report is available in full on the Commission website at http://www.audit-commission.gov.uk/localgovernment/foi/index.asp?
In addition UCL has also published good practice recommendations for cost-effective compliance with the FOI Act. These are UCL's recommendations and are published on its website at the following link http://www.ucl.ac.uk/constitution-unit/foidp/local.htm
A copy of this letter will be placed in the House of Commons Library.
Mrs. Lait: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what proportion of residential development in England was on floodplain land in the last 12 months for which figures are available. 
Mr. Iain Wright:
The publication Land Use Change in England: Residential Development to 2006 (LUCS22) shows that, on a provisional estimate, 9 per cent. of all dwellings in 2005 were built in flood risk areas. A more robust estimate for 2004 shows that 10 per cent. of all dwellings were built in flood risk areas during that year. This is in line with levels of existing
developmentflood risk areas account for about 12 per cent. of land in England, including parts of major cities, and around 10 per cent. of the population already live in flood risk areas.
The definition of high flood risk areas and floodplain used by Communities and Local Government is the high risk zone mapped by the Environment Agency as being at a probability of flooding, excluding the presence of flood defences, of at least a one in one hundred years for river flooding and at least a one in two hundred years for coastal flooding. This is the basis for the definition of high risk areas in PPS25.
Flood risk is a major factor in the location of new development. The Government's aim is to avoid inappropriate development in areas of high flood risk. The Government published Planning Policy Statement (PPS25) in December 2006 to strengthen and clarify earlier policy on this issue.
PPS25 ensures that flood risk must be taken into account at all stages of the planning process. Development that would not be safe in the higher flood risk areas should be directed to areas of lower risk wherever this is practicable. In particular, more vulnerable development, such as housing, should not be permitted in high risk areas unless it can be clearly demonstrated that the need for the development outweighs the risk, and it will be safe, without increasing flood risk.
Mr. Iain Wright: The Department's publication Land Use Change in England: Residential Development to 2006 (LUCS22) contains the most recent data on residential development on flood plains. It shows the amount and percentage of land changing to residential use, and the percentage of new dwellings built on previously-developed land, within flood risk areas, as well as the proportion of all new dwellings built on flood plains.
Mrs. Lait: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many and what proportion of domestic property sales in London in the last period for which figures are available were for a value of (a) £250,000 to £500,000 and (b) above £500,000. 
Mr. Iain Wright: Using HM Land Registry data the number and proportion of all residential property sales in London for 2006 that were sold for a value of (a) above £250,000 up to and including £500,000 was 54,100 (32 per cent.), and for (b) above £500,000 was 17,100 (10 per cent.).
Mr. Iain Wright: The Governments Green Paper, Homes for the future more affordable, more sustainable was launched on 23 July outlines the Governments plans for delivering new homes. We are taking urgent action to meet growing demand and address the serious issue of housing affordability. Our new target will deliver 240,000 additional homes a year by 2016.
We are providing £8 billion over the next three years to invest in affordable housing. This new investment will help to deliver 45,000 new social homes a year by 2010-11 with a goal to reach 50,000 in the next spending review.
Mr. Rob Wilson:
To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what proportion of estimated payments under her Department's private finance initiative contracts is projected to be spent on
the construction of houses in each year between 2008 and 2019. 
Mr. Iain Wright: Data are not available in the format requested. Of the total £3.7 billion PFI credits allocated to this Department, £2.7 billion will be used for the Housing PFI Programme: £620 million has been allocated, or set aside, for schemes that will deliver additional social rented housing. Schemes currently on the programme are projected to provide over 3,000 new social rented homes by 2013. The remaining PFI credits have been allocated to schemes that will reduce the number of non-decent homes by over 28,300.
PFI credits act as a promise of government funding and indicate the level of capital investment which will attract government support. Once a PFI scheme is operational, PFI credits entitle the local authority to on-going subsidy from the Department, over the life of the PFI contract, typically 15-30 years.
Subsidy for PFI schemes is paid on a fixed, annual basis over the life of the contract. Subsidy is calculated based on the overall capital cost of a scheme and does not reflect capital expenditure in individual years.
The following tables detail the number of additional social rented houses projected to be constructed during the years 2008-19, and includes the level of PFI credits and annual subsidy payments for schemes which have signed.
|Housing PFI Programme Schemes delivering a dditional s ocial r ented h ousing|
|Local authority||Project name||PFI credits (£m)||Annual subsidy to LA (£m)||Total number of units||Construction p rofile|
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