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29 Oct 2007 : Column 649W—continued


Prior to 2004-05, combined fire and rescue authorities were funded through grants from county councils, and not through a separate council tax precept.

The data are collected on Budget Requirement returns submitted annually by all billing and precepting authorities in England.

Council Tax: Greater London

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the average Greater London Authority (GLA) precept on Band D council tax was in each year since the creation of the GLA. [157486]

John Healey: The Greater London Authority (GLA) council tax precept levied on average Band D two-adult properties, in each year since the creation of the GLA, is shown in the following table:


29 Oct 2007 : Column 650W
£

2000-01

123

2001-02

151

2002-03

174

2003-04

224

2004-05

241

2005-06

255

2006-07

289

2007-08

304


The data are collected on Budget Requirement returns submitted annually by all billing authorities in England.

Council Tax: Parish Councils

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the estimated average parish council precept on Band D council tax was in 2007-08. [157644]

John Healey: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to the hon. Member for Meriden (Mrs. Spelman) on 19 June 2007, Official Report, column 1674W.

Council Tax: Second Homes

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government which local authorities have used their powers to reduce the council tax discount on (a) empty and (b) second homes; what revised discount rate each of them have set; and how much was raised collectively in extra council tax as a result in the most recent year for which figures are available. [157451]

John Healey: I have placed in the Library of the House a table showing, for each billing authority, the council tax discounts for second homes and long-term empty homes that were in effect at October 2006.

It is estimated that, in 2006-07, the reduction in discounts for long-term empty homes raised £78.5 million and that the reduction in discounts for second homes raised £98 million.

Council Tax: Valuation

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the average Band D council tax for a (a) standard two-person adult household and (b) one-person adult household was in England in each year since 1997-98. [157696]

John Healey: Details of the average area Band D council tax for a two-adult household in England in each year since 1998-99 can be found on the Communities and Local Government website at:

and

One-adult households receive a 25 per cent. discount on the figures shown.

The data are collected on budget requirement returns submitted annually by all billing authorities in England and include, where applicable, authorities' own council
29 Oct 2007 : Column 651W
tax plus council tax collected on behalf of precepting bodies such as county councils, fire authorities and police authorities.

Departments: Cost-effectiveness

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what cash-releasing efficiency savings her Department has made in the last 12 months; at what cost; and in which divisions. [157563]

John Healey: Information on the cash-releasing efficiency savings made in the last 12 months is not available. Some of our workstreams report efficiency gains annually in arrears. We will publish our autumn performance report in November which will include the efficiency savings we have achieved to date including those delivered during 2006-07 and the proportion that is cash-releasing.

Sir Peter Gershon’s independent report into public sector efficiency did not require that efficiencies be recorded net of up-front investment costs and Communities and Local Government has followed this advice. As a consequence, the costs of delivering efficiency gains could be obtained only at disproportionate cost. All VFM savings during the CSR07 period will be cash-releasing and net of up-front costs.

EU Grants and Loans

Dr. Stoate: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what research her Department has carried out into the impact of projects supported by European Union Urban II funding in (a) Thames Gateway Kent and (b) the UK; and if she will make a statement. [158610]

John Healey: In line with European regulations, two national evaluations have already been carried out on the English Urban II programmes, including the Thames Gateway Kent programme. These were the Mid Term Evaluation of 2003 and the subsequent update carried out in 2005. These reports have been accepted by the European Commission, and CLG and the programme managers have been acting on the recommendations within these reports. In addition, each programme produces an Annual Implementation Report summarising key achievements and impacts in the relevant urban areas. Copies of these reports are available from CLG and the Government offices for the regions.

As part of the closure of the Urban II programmes in December 2008, final closure reports are expected to show further evaluation of these programmes and in particular the legacy that they will leave in each region.

Festivals and Special Occasions

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what rules are in place on the staging of outside events; whether any amendments to these rules are being considered; and if she will make a statement. [158725]


29 Oct 2007 : Column 652W

Mr. Sutcliffe [holding answer 22 October 2007]: I have been asked to reply.

Under the Licensing Act 2003 either a temporary event notice (TEN) or a premises licence is required if any licensable activities take place. A TEN will cover smaller events of less than 500 people at a cost of £21, while a premises licence is required for events with 500 or more people with the cost relating to the amount of people expected. However, if a local authority wishes to subsidise any specific community or charitable events it can do so using methods such as direct funding or internal charging.

My Department published its Register of Local Authority Licensed Public Spaces in England and Wales on 15 January. The register lists those local authorities that have licensed their public spaces to enable a range of events to take place throughout the year. It will help event organisers and entertainers to determine whether licensable activities can take place in a particular location without the need to obtain a separate premises licence, or to give a temporary event notice.

Freedom of Information: Standards

Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government which local authorities make compensation payments to people making requests to them under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 when they fail to meet the deadlines for providing information set out in the Act. [161522]

Mr. Dhanda: Communities and Local Government has no knowledge of such payments being made in these circumstances. There is no provision in the Freedom of Information Act 2000 for compensation payments to be made.

Home Condition Reports

Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Milton Keynes, South-West (Dr. Starkey) of 8 February 2007, Official Report, columns 1156-57, on home condition reports, who the independent researchers are; and if she will place in the Library a copy of their first report. [153995]

Yvette Cooper: Ipsos MORI have been commissioned, under competitive tender, to independently monitor and evaluate the area trials which are looking particularly at home condition reports.

Full conclusions will not be available until the completion of transactions involving properties in the trials and buyers have been approached as part of the qualitative research. A copy of the research report will be placed in the House Library once the project has been finalised.

Home Information Packs

Mrs. Lait: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 13 March 2007, Official Report, column 239W, on home information packs, if she will break down expenditure on home information packs since March 2007. [152419]


29 Oct 2007 : Column 653W

Yvette Cooper: An update on programme spend was given in the House on 10 July 2007, Official Report, columns 1308-10.

Since then HIPs and EPCs expenditure has been as follows:

Programme spend 1 July to 30 September 2007
£

Administration costs(1)

413,000

Legal fees

Outside expertise

291,000

Website Costs

67,000

Area Trials

Research

Communications, publicity and publishing

1,650,000

Agency Staff

69,000

Other costs

10,000

Total

2,500,000

(1) Includes Departmental staff working on HIPs and EPC development, management and implementation.

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment has been made of the effect of the introduction of home information packs on the housing market. [158245]

Yvette Cooper: Home information packs have helped reduce search costs and promote early information in the housing market. Economists are clear that interest rates, house prices, stock market uncertainty and concerns about sub prime lending continue to be the most significant factors determining the behaviour of the housing market.

We know some estate agents have been encouraging sellers to put their homes on to the market in advance of the HIPs deadlines. Short-term transitional effects on the timings of new listings are unsurprising. We continue to monitor the overall impact of the introduction of home information packs.

Mrs. Lait: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to her statement of 6 May 2007, Official Report, column 632, on home information packs, what definition her Department uses of a (a) stakeholder and (b) vested interest. [158427]

Yvette Cooper: There were no statements on HIPs in the House of Commons on 6 May 2007.

Paul Holmes: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much her Department has spent on (a) administration, (b) legal fees, (c) special advisers, (d) the website and (e) other costs relating to the home information packs programme. [158668]

Yvette Cooper: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to the hon. Member for Beckenham (Mrs. Lait) today (Question 152419).

Paul Holmes: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the (a) lowest and (b) highest cost has been of a home
29 Oct 2007 : Column 654W
information pack; and what the reported (i) longest and (ii) shortest time taken to compile a pack has been. [159447]

Yvette Cooper: Our monitoring arrangements do not capture specific data on the longest and shortest time taken to compile a home information pack, or the lowest and highest cost. Our monitoring shows that most HIPs are being provided within five to seven working days and that the current average market price of an HIP is £300 to £350 plus VAT.

Home Information Packs: Consultants

Mrs. Lait: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what external consultancy or research organisations her Department and its predecessor has contracted to work on home information packs since 2002; what the topic of their research or advice was; and how much has been spent on each. [152519]

Yvette Cooper: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to the hon. Member for Surrey Heath (Michael Gove) on 8 November 2006, Official Report, column 1568W. Since then a further £2,005,259 has been spent.

In addition we have commissioned research on the following topics since 2002. Tenders submitted were evaluated against the Department’s assessment of value for money and procurement framework. Costs set out are exclusive of VAT,

Topic Organisation Cost (£)

Area trials

Ipsos MORI

590,373

Economic analysis

Europe Economics

43,321

DEAs and HIs

Asset Skills

21,110

BRE

28,900

Ipsos MORI

41,784

Searches

CIPFA

8,000

KPMG

187,000

Evaluation

Ipsos MORI and BRE

361,729

Spark Research

10,500

Awareness

GFK NOP

83,000

NOP

22,000

HCRs

BRE

308,057

BRE

102,915

BRE

9,970


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