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The Department is currently collecting and validating local authorities outturn data for the financial year 2006-07 and we will publish this later in the autumn. But early indications are that the total of balances has increased again.
It is right that schools should be able to accrue revenue balances from one year to the next in support of strategic, long term, financial planning. However, I am clear that it is not acceptable for Government to allow balances to continue to accumulate. At the end of 2005-06, total net revenue balances were 5.3 per cent. of schools' total income. For schools with a positive balance, the figure is 6.7 per cent. of total income. Moreover, around 17 per cent. of schools had held an excess surplus for each of the last five years. This is taxpayers money voted by Parliament for the education of the pupils in schools in the year in question and it should not be steadily accumulating in schools' bank accounts.
We are therefore taking action on two fronts to bring the total down. We have introduced a requirement that, from 2007-08, all local authorities must, where they do not already, operate a balance control mechanism enabling them to claw back excess surplus balances. These are defined in the guidance as uncommitted revenue balances above 8 per cent. of total income for primary and special schools and 5 per cent. for secondary schools. The guidance is available in the Library of the House and can be viewed at:
To be effective, claw-back requires local authorities to scrutinise schools' plans for using their excess surplus balances and reach a judgement on whether the balance is genuinely committed to be spent for a specific purpose within a specified timescale. Claw-back is only as effective, therefore, as the local authority's scrutiny is rigorous.
In 2005-06, local authorities reported that £988 million or 62.9 per cent. of balances was committed for specific purposes. However what is defined as a committed revenue balance varies from one local authority to another and the split of total revenue balances into committed and uncommitted balances is not reliable. For example, in 2005-06, 37 local authorities reported less than 25 per cent. of their total revenue balances as committed whereas 62 LAs reported more than 75 per cent. of their total revenue balance as committed.
The Government expect claw-back to have some impact but we believe it is right to take further action on all balances to ensure that their overall level reduces so that some of this money is used to support the education of today's pupils. We proposed in the consultation on the school, early years and 14 to 16 funding arrangements in spring this year to require all local authorities to redistribute locally 5 per cent. of all positive revenue balances from 2008-09. Local authorities will decide with their Schools Forum how the money is to be redistributed locally to support local needs and priorities.
I announced in my statement of 25 June 2007, Official Report, column 2WS, our decision to proceed with this proposal, and in September my Department published an Explanatory Note for local authorities and Schools Forums on the school funding arrangements for the next three years, including further detail on how the balance redistribution would work in practice. The Explanatory Note is available in the Library and on TeacherNet at:
The Department is now consulting on the draft school finance regulations for 2008 which would bring the balance redistribution into effect. The proposition is that local authorities should calculate 5 per cent. of the most recent positive revenue balance for all schools, and add this sum to the total Schools Budget for the coming year. For 2008-09, it is proposed that this should be final balances at the end of 2006-07 since final balances for 2007-08 will not be known before authorities notify schools of their budgets by the end of March. Consultation closes on 26 October and I will announce our final decisions on the redistribution in the light of the comments received. Details of the consultation can be viewed at:
It is clear from early responses that schools are particularly concerned about the use of 2006-07 balances. We will want to look very carefully at this aspect of the proposals in particular in reaching final decisions in the light of the consultation.
Local authority claw-back mechanisms and the proposed balance redistribution apply to all local authority maintained schools including foundation and trust schools. Academies and city technology colleges (CTCs) are not subject to the same rules on the carry-forward of balances as maintained schools. Instead, the requirements are set out in their individual funding agreements. The normal provision is that the academy or CTC may carry forward at the end of any year a sum which at maximum is 12 per cent. of the General Annual Grant (GAG) for the year just ended; and within that overall limit only 2 per cent., at most, of the preceding year's GAG can be carried forward for revenue spend; the rest must be for capital purposes. This calculation is not cumulativethat is, the total sum carried forward should never grow larger than 12 per cent. of the preceding year's GAG. Adherence to these limits is monitored by the Department and GAG may be clawed back if they are exceeded, although the Secretary of State is empowered under the funding agreements to approve a higher limit in individual cases. There are no plans to change these provisions.
Standards Fund grants are paid under sections 14-18 of the Education Act 2002. Section 16 allows the Secretary of State to set the terms of those payments, including the circumstances in which grant is to be repaid, and how grant should be distributed to schools.
In my written ministerial statement of 15 March, Official R eport, column 18WS I announced the publication by my Department of a summary of the data on school balances for the financial years for which information is available1999-2000 to 2005-06. This includes data on balances for all local authority maintained schools, together with regional and local authority level summaries. It shows the proportions declared to be committed and uncommitted and the amount of balances meeting the definition of excess balances. Copies have been placed in the Library and the information is also available on the Department's website at:
Information on closing balances is collected after the end of the financial year so data for 2007-08 onwards are not yet available. As already noted, my Department will publish data for 2006-07 later this autumn.
In 2005-06 positive balances totalled just over £1.7 billion. A redistribution of 5 per cent. of all positive balances in all authorities would deliver in the region of £85 million in 2008-09 to support locally agreed priorities. As total balances reduce over the spending review period it is anticipated that the income generated through the redistribution will be marginally reduced, however it is not currently possible to predict the total surplus balances over this period.
Paul Farrelly: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families (1) when he plans to publish the results of his Departments consultation on a proposed levy of 5 per cent. on school surplus balances; 
Jim Knight: The Department is currently consulting on the draft school finance regulations for 2008 which will give effect to the proposal to require local authorities to redistribute locally 5 per cent. of all surplus revenue school balances. The consultation closes on 26 October and we will consider carefully all the representations received before taking final decisions. A report on the outcome of the consultation, including an analysis of responses, will be published on the TeacherNet website and a copy placed in the Library of the House as soon as possible after the close of consultation.
Mr. Rob Wilson: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what the average amount of time taken was for a Criminal Records Bureau check to be completed on a potential member of school staff in 2006-07. 
Data concerning the average waiting time taken to complete a Disclosure are not a performance target and are not collated by the CRB. The CRB operates to a set of published service standards (PSS) which include to issue 90 per cent. of Standard Disclosures within 10 days and 90 per cent. of Enhanced Disclosures within 28 days. During 2007 the CRB has consistently exceeded the PSS and in August 2007, the CRB issued 100 per cent. of Standard Disclosures and 96 per cent. of Enhanced Disclosures within PSS.
Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families (1) how many and what proportion of pupils who attained level 5 or below in the 2007 Key Stage 3 tests in (a) English, (b) mathematics and (c) science in each year since 1997 had previously attained level 5 or above at Key Stage 2; 
(2) how many and what proportion of pupils who took the Key Stage 3 tests in (a) English, (b) mathematics and (c) science in each year since 1997 attained the same level or below the level they attained at Key Stage 2 (i) in total and (ii) for pupils who attained (A) level 3, (B) level 4 and (C) level 5 at Key Stage 2. 
23. Paddy Tipping: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government which housing organisations received funding from the National Affordable Housing Programme; and how much each has been awarded. 
Mr. Iain Wright: Around 339 registered social landlords and other bodies received public funding as part of the 2006-08 Affordable Housing Programme via the Housing Corporation. These organisations may have bid as part of a partnership or as an individual specialist provider.
As part of their grant allocation process for the AHP 2006-08, the Housing Corporation published regional allocation statements. These list lead partners and individual specialist providers and grant allocations that they have received for that programme.
John Healey: In our Discussion Paper Councils' Proposals for Unitary Local Government: An Approach to Implementation published on 22 August we invited the views of those councils potentially affected by restructuring on when elections for any new unitary authorities should be held. That paper indicated that the options for elections in May 2008 or May 2009 are finely balanced and we are now considering the views we have received.
Hazel Blears: 30,000 responses were received to the consultation on the Planning White Paper. The Government will produce a summary of responses, including next steps, shortly. However, Ministers continue to receive a range of letters and other representations on the issues raised in the Planning White Paper.
26. Mark Pritchard: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will hold discussions with the Home Secretary on the potential impact of migration on the Government's plans for housing. 
Hazel Blears: Household growth in England is being driven by a combination of factors, including increasing longevity, growing numbers of people living alone and migration. The most recent household projections indicate that 223,000 new households will form each year up to 2026, of which 155,000 or 70 per cent., will be single person households.
Ministers from the Home Office and Communities and Local Government discuss the impact of migration on a range of services throughout the United Kingdom, including housing, at meetings of the Migration Impacts Forum.
The Forum, which has a remit to focus on the transitional impacts and social benefits of migration experienced by local areas, is co-chaired by Ministers from the Home Office and Communities and Local Government, and is made up of representatives from both within and outside of Government. The next meeting of the Forum will take place on 17 October.
27. Dr. Palmer: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will review the impact of floors and ceilings in the local government settlements on Broxtowe local authority. 
John Healey: Floor damping ensures that the year-on-year change for all authorities is limited i.e. that no authority receives a large year-on-year decrease. Although Broxtowe has been a net contributor to the floor over the past five years, it has received year-on-year increases in formula grant well above inflation throughout this period.
Mr. Iain Wright: The dates for the inquiry into this planning appeal have yet to be agreed with the parties. In line with the provisions of Schedule 2 to the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004, we will set a statutory target for deciding this case following the close of the inquiry, and I will arrange for you to be notified both at that time and when the decision is issued.
29. Dr. Blackman-Woods: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what plans she has for further reform of local government structures; and if she will make a statement. 
Hazel Blears: There are no plans for a future rolling programme of restructuring. However, we recognise that there may be specific areas where in future there is some appetite for change and where it would be right to issue a focussed and targeted invitation to the councils concerned.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government which public authorities, including Executive agencies and Government Departments, will have access to the data from the electronic communications of building control documents. 
Mr. Iain Wright: The current consultation on the Enabling Electronic Communication of Building Control Documents will in no way change access rights to building control documents held by local authorities. However, it should be noted that the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOI) applies to all information (electronic or otherwise) held by local authorities, including building control documents. FOI requests can be made by public authorities, including Executive agencies and Government Departments.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether her proposals for enabling electronic communication of building control documents will include data on specific domestic properties which undertake building control work. 
Mr. Iain Wright: The Enabling Electronic Communication of Building Control Documents Regulations proposal, currently out for public consultation, would, subject to the outcome of the consultation and approval of regulations, allow discretionary transmission of all building control documents by electronic means, e.g. applications, notices and certificates. These documents would also include those relating to domestic properties.
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