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Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much her Department has spent on external public relations consultants and companies in the last 24 months; and for what purposes. 
Mr. Dhanda: Over the last 24 months, Communities and Local Government has spent £1.2 million on public relations activity to help meet our obligation to inform the public of changes in the law, and their rights and responsibilities.
This includes work to support the Departments Fire Safety campaign to reduce the number of deaths and serious injuries caused by domestic fires, activity to support the campaign to encourage members of the public to use the online services provided by local authorities, and media coverage of the introduction of the Tenancy Deposit scheme to protect tenants from unscrupulous landlords.
To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what contingency preparations her Department made for the
possibility of a general election being held in autumn 2007; and what the costs were of those preparations. 
Mr. Dhanda [holding answer 11 October 2007]: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster on 15 October 2007, Official Report column 822W.
Jenny Willott: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many new (a) laptops, (b) mobile telephones and (c) personal digital assistant devices her Department and its predecessors have bought for the use of departmental Ministers following each Cabinet reshuffle since 1997; and if she will make a statement. 
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many websites her Department operates; how many it operated at 1 January 2005; and what the estimated annual cost has been of running her Departments websites in the last five years. 
To produce annual costs for all the Departments websites for each of the last five years would incur disproportionate cost. I refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 4 July 2006, Official Report, column 958W to the hon. Member for Wealden (Charles Hendry) for the list of websites under the Departments responsibility, and the annual running costs of those sites.
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many hits the (a) most and (b) least popular website run by her Department has received since 1 January 2007. 
The Department does not centrally hold web usage statistics for all of its websites. Based on those sites where figures are held centrally and using the monthly unique visitor figures, the most frequently visited site is the corporate website: www.communities. gov.uk, which averaged 247,839 unique visitors per month from January to June 2007 and the least frequently visited site was the specialist local
government site Best Value Performance Indicators: www.bvpi.gov.uk, which averaged 350 unique visitors per month over the same period.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many full-time equivalent posts in her Department have been relocated out of London and the South East in the last 12 months; in which divisions; and to what locations. 
Mr. Dhanda: The Department have relocated 65 full-time equivalent posts outside of London and the South East since 1 October 2006. All these posts were relocated by our non-departmental public bodies (Audit Commission, 25 posts relocated to Bristol and 40 Standards Board for England posts relocated to Manchester).
Mr. Dhanda: Staffing levels are measured as at the last day of each quarter. The Department for Communities and Local Government came into being on 5 May 2006. As at 31 March 2006 the predecessor Department, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, employed 2,348 full-time equivalent staff and at 31 March 2007 the Central Department for Communities and Local Government employed a total of 2,244 full-time equivalent staff. This does not include the Government Offices or the Departments Agencies.
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many people were employed by her Department and its predecessor on 1 January in each of the last five years; and how many of these staff were (a) permanent employees, (b) temporary staff and (c) contractors. 
Mr. Dhanda: Statistics on staffing levels are collected as at the last day of each quarter. The numbers of staff in the Central Department for Communities and Local Government, and its predecessor, Office of Deputy Prime Minister on 31 December of each year are shown in the following table. This does not include staff in the Government Offices or the Departments Agencies.
|31 December||Permanent employees||Temporary staff||Total|
|(1) Full-time equivalent.|
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the timetable is for her Department (a) to consult on and (b) to decide whether to use the powers in the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Bill if enacted to move the date of the May 2009 local elections to June 2009. 
John Healey: No decisions have been taken as to whether, and if so how, to use the powers which may be available if the Bill is enacted to move the date of the 2009 local elections to coincide with the 2009 European elections.
Mrs. Lait: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 23 March 2007, to the hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar (Mr. Pickles), Official Report, column 1215W, on the Equal Opportunities Commission: manpower, what steps the Commission is taking to tackle the under-representation of men amongst employees of the Commission. 
The Equal Opportunities Commission was dissolved on the 1 October 2007. The roles and responsibilities of the Equal Opportunities Commission will be taken forward by the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
Mr. Iain Wright:
Sections 175 to 178 of the Housing Act 1996 define the circumstances when a person is statutorily homeless. Broadly, this provides that a person is homeless if they do not have accommodation that they have a legal right to occupy, which is accessible and physically available to them (and their household) and which it would be reasonable for them to continue to live in. It would not be reasonable for
someone to continue to live in their home, for example, if that was likely to lead to violence against them (or a member of their family).
Guidance on evaluating the extent of rough sleeping (2007 Revision), which the Department has published for the purposes of local authority rough sleeping counts, advises that the following should be considered as rough sleeping:
People sleeping, or bedded down, in the open air (such as on streets, or in doorways, parks or bus shelters); people in buildings or other places not designed for habitation (such as barns, sheds, car parks, cars, derelict boats, stations, or bashes)
Paul Holmes: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if her Department will revise the Homelessness Code of Guidance for local authorities to classify women fleeing domestic violence as unintentionally homeless and in priority need. 
Mr. Iain Wright: The Homelessness Code of Guidance for Local Authorities provides guidance in respect of women fleeing domestic violence which accords with legislation and case law. Under the homelessness legislation (Part 7 of the Housing Act 1996), a person is homeless if they have accommodation available but it would not be reasonable for them to continue to occupy it. It is not considered reasonable for a person to continue to occupy accommodation if it is probable that this will lead to domestic violence or other violence against that person (or against someone who normally resides as a member of that person's family, or any other person who might reasonably be expected to reside with that person).
In 2002 the Government extended, by Order, the categories of housing applicant who has a priority need for accommodation. These include a person who is vulnerable as a result of ceasing to occupy accommodation because of violence from another person or threats of violence from another person which are likely to be carried out.
Broadly, the Code of Guidance states that a person fleeing a probability of violence is not to be considered intentionally homeless even if they were aware of measures that could have been taken to prevent or mitigate the risk of violence but decided not to take them.
The latest estimate of the total number of households that remain in alternative accommodation due to the floods in June and July is 2,740. This figure
is based on the information that has been provided by local authorities and may not include those households who have made private arrangements or those who have secured alternative accommodation through their insurance companies.
Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) when she plans to make it a requirement for local authorities to accept applications from members of HM armed forces for social housing on leaving the services; and if she will make a statement; 
(2) what steps she is taking to ensure that local authorities do not discriminate against members of HM armed forces applying for social housing who have left the services earlier than the period for which they had signed up. 
Mr. Iain Wright: Local authorities are required to consider every application for housing accommodation including those from a member of HM armed forces, provided it is made in accordance with the procedural requirements of their allocation scheme. Furthermore, local authorities must treat every applicant as eligible for an allocation of accommodation, with the exception of certain persons from abroad specified in regulations; and persons whom an authority decides to treat as ineligible because they (or a member of their household) have been guilty of unacceptable behaviour serious enough to make them unsuitable to be a tenant of the authority.
The hon. Member in asking the question is perhaps referring to the application of local connection in respect of the allocation of social housing under the Housing Act 1996. At the moment members of the armed forces cannot establish a local connection with the area in which they are stationed or work. This can put the members of the armed forces at a disadvantage where a local authority takes account of local connection in its allocation scheme.
In this respect I refer the hon. Member to the written statement made on 21 June 2007, Official Report, column 108WS, by my right hon. Friend the Minister for Housing and Planning in which it was announced that we would make the necessary changes to housing legislation, at the earliest opportunity, to ensure that service personnel are put on an equal footing with other people when applying for an allocation of social housing.
The fact that a person may have left the services earlier than the period for which he or she signed up is not a relevant factor in determining their eligibility or priority for an allocation of social housing.
Mr. Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many individuals obtained a tenancy of social housing without holding an existing social housing tenancy in each year since 1997. 
Mr. Iain Wright:
Local authorities in England report the number of lettings in their annual Housing Strategy Statistical Appendix returns. Registered social landlords record the number of lettings on their CORE
lettings logs. These two data sources together give the total number of new social lettings in England to tenants entering the social rented housing sector in each year since 1997, as at 1 April each year.
The total number of new social lettings to new social housing tenants in England from the Housing Strategy Statistical Appendix returns and CORE lettings logs in each year since 1997 are provided in table 1 and table 2. Due to different data collection processes, these data sources are not necessarily directly comparable.
|Table 1: Local authority social lettings to new social housing tenants in England|
|Local authority l ets|
As reported by local authorities. Rounded to nearest 10.
Communities and local Government Housing Strategy Statistical Appendix Return
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