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23 Oct 2007 : Column 180Wcontinued
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what proportion of social tenants were in (a) full-time and (b) part-time employment in (i) 1997 and (ii) the latest year for which figures are available. 
Mr. Iain Wright: On the basis of figures derived from the Survey of English Housing, it is estimated that, in 1997-98, 23 per cent. of social tenants who were the main householder were in full-time employment and 7 per cent. were in part-time employment.
The latest estimates, for 2005-06, are that 22 per cent. of social tenants were in full-time employment and 9 per cent. in part-time employment.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) how many public-sector homes in (a) England and (b) each Government office region in England were empty in April 2007; 
(2) how many public-sector domestic dwellings were vacant in (a) England and (b) each Government office region in England in April. 
Mr. Iain Wright: The number of local authority and registered social landlord vacant dwellings in each region at 1 April 2006, the latest date for which figures are available, is below.
|Vacancies by region, 1 April 2006|
|Local authority( 1)||Registered social landlords( 2)|
| Source:(1) Housing Strategy Statistical Appendix as reported by local authorities. (2) Regulatory Statistical Return as reported by registered social landlords.|
Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what applications she has made to the European Union for funding in relation to 2007 UK flood damage; what assessment she has made of applications by other European states for equivalent funding; and what funding she has secured from the European Union for such purposes. 
John Healey: An application for support from the EU Solidarity Fund (EUSF) in respect of the June and July flooding in England, Wales and Northern Ireland was lodged with the European Commission on 20 August. It is for the Commission to decide what level of support to offer, and the application is currently being discussed with it.
Applications by other member states to the EUSF have resulted in offers of support ranging approximately between 2.5 per cent. and 5 per cent. of the damage suffered. The UK current estimate for total damage is over €4 billion. Of the total number of applications received by the European Commission since 2002, 23 have been accepted by the Commission and 17 rejected, with a further two withdrawn and decisions pending on five other applications.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many of the homes being built in English Partnerships eco-village in Bristol will be zero-carbon. 
Mr. Iain Wright: The homes at the eco-village at Hanham Hall, Bristol are to be developed under the Carbon Challenge. The Carbon Challenge is a competition being delivered by English Partnerships on behalf of the Department for Communities and Local Government and is aimed at accelerating the house building industry's response to climate change. Hanham Hall is owned by English Partnerships and is the first Carbon Challenge site to be developed. All the homes will be required to meet Level 6, which is the highest level, of the Code for Sustainable Homes. The energy standard for code level 6 requires net zero carbon emissions for each new home. This means that, over the course of a year, the amount of energy taken from the grid to facilitate the running of the home will be less than or equal to the amount of energy returned using renewable technologies.
Mark Hunter: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many units of social housing were available in (a) the Cheadle constituency and (b) Stockport local authority in (i) 2005 and (ii) 2006. 
Mr. Iain Wright: Information specific to the Cheadle constituency is not held centrally, but the numbers of social rent dwellings in Stockport that are owned or managed by local authorities and registered social landlords (RSLs) are tabulated as follows:
|1 April||Local authority( 1)||Registered social landlords( 2)||Total|
| Sources:(1) Housing Strategy Statistical Appendix reported by Stockport. (2) Statistical Return reported by registered social landlords.|
RSL stock includes supported/older people self contained units and bed spaces.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what representations her Department has received calling for buffer zones between domestic dwellings and opencast mines; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Iain Wright: I am aware of two representations to the Department which called for buffer zones between domestic dwellings and opencast mines.
The Government have no plans to introduce a planning policy recommending uniform buffer zones around opencast mining sites in England. It considers that the interests of the occupants of neighbouring properties, and the environment, are better served by the present practice of considering the specific impacts of individual mining schemes in the light of all the local relevant circumstances, as part of the preparation of an environmental impact assessment for an application for planning permission.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what plans her Department has to make additional retrospective payments to councils under the local authority business growth incentives scheme following the successful judicial review proceedings brought against it. 
John Healey: On 6 September, the Department wrote to all eligible local authorities with details of additional payments made as a result of the recent judicial review proceedings. A further explanation can be found at http://www.local.communities.gov.uk/finance/labgi/addpayexp.pdf and individual authority grant awards can be found at http://www.local.communities.gov.uk/finance/labgi/dtmncode20.pdf.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the timetable is for (a) primary and (b) secondary legislation in relation to the proposed local government restructuring and establishment of unitary local government. 
John Healey: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave the hon. Member for Beckenham (Mrs. Lait) on 15 October 2007, Official Report, column 862W.
Mr. Todd: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will review the operation of the Mobile Homes Act 1983 as amended in 2006; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Iain Wright: The Government accepted the majority of the recommendations made by the park homes working party in 2000. Since then, Government have been taking forward a significant programme of work to implement those recommendations. Those relating to the Implied Terms in Schedule 1 of the Mobile Homes Act 1983 came into force on 1 October 2006. The remaining recommendations are currently being taken forward and will be completed when parliamentary time allows. As the programme of work is ongoing and has been in force only for a year, we believe it is too early to decide when a review of the effectiveness of its implementation should be carried out.
Mrs. Lait: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what guidance has been produced for public authorities on procurement and public-sector equality duties. 
Barbara Follett: I have been asked to reply
Each of the previous equality Commissions, the Commission for Racial Equality, the Disability Rights Commission and the Equal Opportunities Commission produced guidance on procurement and the race, disability and gender public-sector equality duties respectively. The Office of Government Commerce has also produced a guidance note on social issues in purchasing which provides information on public procurement and the public-sector equality duties.
Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what steps the Government have taken to encourage landlords of student accommodation to sign up to the tenancy deposit protection Scheme; and what further plans she has to encourage such landlords to sign up to the scheme. 
Mr. Iain Wright: The Department has a publicity and awareness campaign for the tenancy deposit protection (TDP) scheme specifically aimed at students. The campaign was developed in close association with large student accommodation providers and the National Union of Students. TDP has been promoted to students on campuses, in student bars and in public areas, and supported by advertising via ATM machines and on student accommodation websites.
Direct marketing to students at 30 universities in England and Wales started in September 2007, led by students themselves. This encompasses distributing leaflets and posters, information on student blogging websites, web forums and direct information to letting agents offering student accommodation. It is intended that this activity will raise awareness with newly arrived students. This activity is ongoing and will be prominently repeated in January 2008, the peak time when students start searching for private rented property for the autumn term. Such awareness will equip students to know when to tackle their landlords if they believe they have failed to protect their deposits.
National and regional landlord organisations, as well as landlord forums and accreditation schemes run by local authorities, have an active role to play in ensuring that the message is disseminated to landlords. Reputable letting agents are aware of the new requirements and are responsible for ensuring that their landlord clients comply with the legislation.
Paul Holmes: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what her strategy is for helping unemployed homeless people and people living in unsettled accommodation, including hostels, into employment and independent living. 
Mr. Iain Wright: The Government recognise that training and employment are a key route out of homelessness. Our homelessness strategy Sustainable Communities: Settled Homes; Changing Lives (2005) includes a programme of work across Government to tackle the wider causes and symptoms of homelessness, including improving access to benefits, training and employment.
The Department for Communities and Local Government is working closely with DWP, Jobcentre Plus, local authorities, the voluntary and community sector, and the private sector on a number of initiatives, including
The Hostels Capital Improvement Programme is providing funding of over £90 million for 178 projects in 62 local authority areas to improve the physical condition of hostels and day centres and transform their services to put activity, training, work, education and social enterprise at the heart of their ethos.
Through the Invest to Save Budget, the Government are supporting the Transitional Spaces Project led by Off the Streets and Into Work project, which plans to work with hostel residents to build their skills and gain sustainable employment.
Government are supporting the Working Future pilot, which is testing the impact of reduced rents and increased access to employment services on work incentives for families with dependent children in private sector leased temporary accommodation in East London.
The Department also continues to support a number of organisations, including Business Action on Homelessness and the Construction Youth Trust, working to support people who have experienced homelessness into work.
Ongoing work with DWP includes reforming the housing benefit subsidy regime to reflect the true costs of temporary accommodation, and supporting DWP's ongoing improvements to housing benefit administration.
The Government are committed to ensuring that the most vulnerable adults are offered the chance to get back on a path to a more successful life, by increasing the proportion of socially excluded adults in settled accommodation and in employment, education or training.
Andrew Selous: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many and what percentage of employees in (a) his Department and (b) each (i) executive agency and (ii) non-departmental public body funded by his Department are above state retirement age. 
Mr. Hain: My Department does not have executive agencies or non-departmental public bodies.
Data on the number and percentage of employees above state retirement age for my Department are not available from published sources.
Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales (1) how many citizens juries have been arranged by his Department since June 2007; which organisations were commissioned to conduct each citizens jury; and what the estimated cost is of each exercise; 
(2) how many citizens juries were arranged for (a) his Department and (b) his Departments agencies in each year since 1997; which organisations were commissioned to conduct each citizens jury; and what the cost was of each. 
Mr. Hain: The Wales Office has not conducted any citizens juries between 1997 and the present, nor are any currently being arranged.
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