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The distribution of formula grant to local authorities in England takes account of the circumstances of each authoritys area and its relative ability to pay council tax, expressed in terms of the council tax base. The calculation of a councils tax base
takes into account the Band D-equivalent number of second homes and has done so since council tax was introduced in 1993. Since 1 April 2004, although billing authorities have been able to reduce the council discount for second homes in their area (to between 10 and 50 per cent.), a discount of 50 per cent. has continued to be assumed for all authorities in calculating the tax base for the purposes of distributing formula grant.
Other things being equal, the smaller the council tax base of a councils area, the larger its formula grant. This effect has, however, been modified in recent years by the application of grant floors, which guarantee a minimum percentage increase in grant each year on a like-for-like basis.
Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) how many and which council tax collecting authorities which include domestic properties entitled to a council tax discount for second homes have not decided to use their discretionary powers to levy an additional 40 per cent. charge; 
(2) which council tax collecting authorities took advantage of the opportunity to levy (a) part and (b) all of the discretionary additional charge from those domestic council tax payers who are entitled to the 50 per cent. second home discount in each year for which records are available; and which political party controlled each authority at the time of collection. 
John Healey: I have placed in the Library of the House tables showing which local authorities have levied either (a) all, (b) part, and (c) none of the discretionary additional charge in each year since 2004.
Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many and what proportion of all properties for which council tax is payable in each local authority were entitled to a second home discount in each year since 2000. 
John Healey: I have placed in the Library of the House the information requested for the number of properties classed as second homes and entitled to discount in each local authority in England for 2002 to 2006. Data prior to this are not considered sufficiently robust.
Mrs. Lait: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Surrey Heath (Michael Gove) of 20 June 2007, Official Report, column 1856W, on council tax: valuation, what use is being made by the Valuation Office Agency of data from Rightmove now that the council tax revaluation in England has been postponed. 
Mrs. Lait: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Surrey Heath of 25 June 2007, Official Report, column 152W, on council tax: valuation, what each (a) product and (b) dataset is that the Valuation Office Agency has a licence to use from Ordnance Survey. 
1: 10 000 Scale Raster
1: 25 000 Scale Colour Raster
1: 50 000 Scale Colour Raster
1: 250 000 Scale Colour Raster
1: 50 000 Scale Gazetteer
OS MasterMap¬(r) Topography Layer
OS MasterMap¬(r) Address Layer
OS MasterMap¬(r) Address Layer 2
OS MasterMap¬(r) Integrated Transport Network Layer
Code Point¬(r) with Polygons
OSCAR Asset Manager¬(r)
OSCAR Traffic Manager¬(r).
Mrs. Lait: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what recommendations from the Lifting the Burden Taskforce her Department (a) has introduced and (b) plans to introduce. 
John Healey: The Lifting Burdens Task Force was established under the chairmanship of Michael Prater, chief executive of Nottingham city council, in July 2006. The Task Forces remit is to identify which central Government information requirements on local government cause the most difficulty on the ground and which add the least value, and recommend to Government action to reduce such burdens.
The Task Force published its first report on Communities and Local Governments functions
Housing and Planning at the end of February 2007. The full Government response was published in May 2007. Following the report, we lifted the requirement on local authorities to report on the following Best Value Performance Indicators (BVPIs):
219a Planning: total number of conservation areas in the local authority area
219c Planning: percentage of conservation areas with published management proposals 214 Homelessness: repeat homelessness
The Task Forces recommendations on reform of the planning system were broadly accepted and the responses to most were covered in the Planning White Paper published in May. We will consider the recommendation to remove prescriptive requirements for communication as part of the review of the General Development Procedure Order referred to in the Planning White Paper.
The Task Force published its second report in March 2007, and in response, we removed the requirement for local authorities to report on a further seven BVPIs or parts of BVPIs. We are considering further recommendations from both reports in the context of the new performance framework for local government and the national indicator set which will underpin it, to be introduced from April 2008.
Mrs. Lait: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what responsibilities for regional policy her Department (a) gained and (b) lost as a result of the recent machinery of Government changes. 
John Healey: The Department for Communities and Local Government's shared (with the former Department for Trade and Industry and HM Treasury) Regional Economic Performance targetto improve sustainable economic performance in all regions by 2008, and over the long term (by 2012) reduce the persistent gap in growth rates between the regionstransferred to the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform as part of the recent machinery of Government changes.
Mr. Iain Wright: The latest available data on the disability status of civil servants in Departments and agencies are as at 30 September 2006 and are published in Civil Service Statistics 2006 at Table P. This document is produced by the Office for National Statistics and can be accessed from the following website addresses.
Mr. Iain Wright: Communities and Local Government (CLG) and the former Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) were created following Machinery of Government changes on 5 May 2006 and 29 May 2002, respectively.
There are no records of any payments to Flint Bishop Solicitors by the central Department or its agencies since May 2002. Details of payments prior to May 2002 could be obtained only at disproportionate costs.
A low level of internal planting within the Communities and Local Government HQ buildings is maintained under our Facilities Management contract. The cost of this is included within the fixed contract price for cleaning, grounds maintenance and pest control and is not separately identifiable. Additionally, new plants have been provided at a cost of £6,100.44 during the period 1 July 2006 to 30 June 2007.
Mrs. Lait: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what requests were made to her Department under the (a) Freedom of Information Act (FOI) 2000 and (b) Environmental Information Regulations between the establishment of the Department and 30 September 2006; and what the (i) FOI case reference number, (ii) request summary, (iii) request outcome and (iv), where appropriate, reason for exemption was in each case. 
Mr. Iain Wright: The list of requests made to Communities and Local Government under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 between 8 May 2006 and 30 September 2006, together with the other information requested, has been tabulated and a copy has been placed in the Library of the House.
To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 4 December 2006, Official Report, columns
182-84W, on IT projects, which information technology projects are being undertaken by (a) her Department and (b) its agencies; what the (i) start date, (ii) original planned completion date, (iii) expected completion date, (iv) originally planned costs and (v) estimated planned costs are of each; and if she will make a statement. 
|Project||Start date||Original planned completion date||Expected completion date||Originally planned costs (£000)||Estimated planned costs (£000)|
| Notes:(1) The FiReControl project is principally a business change project with an IT component. (2 )Firelink is a radio communications system project for the Fire and Rescue Service across Great Britain, with an element of IT. (3) A project to rebuild the Info41ocal website was approved in November 2004 at a cost of £244,000. The project was deferred for later incorporation into the Department's Website Rationalisation Project. (4) LINK and EDRMS are two out of three component projects that made up the ITSOP project listed in the Answer published on 4 December 2006. The remaining componentthe outsourcing of the Department's IT serviceswas completed on 31 December 2006. EDRMS is the pilot deployment of electronic document and records management system to selected key users.|
(5 )Plus 400 for Info41ocal.
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