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18 Dec 2007 : Column 1348W—continued

Rough Sleepers

Andrew Stunell: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much was spent in each district/unitary authority in England on rough sleepers by (a) central Government and (b) local authorities in each of the last five years. [170359]

Mr. Iain Wright: Since 2003-04, the majority of our homelessness grants are allocated to local authorities to support them in their work on tackling and preventing homelessness effectively which includes rough sleeping. Previous to that time the majority of funding was allocated direct to the voluntary sector. We do however continue to provide homelessness funding direct to some voluntary organisations, where appropriate.

All local authority homelessness grants are allocated to individual councils and it is for them to determine how they spend this grant.

The Supporting People Programme, which came into effect on 1 April 2003, allocates grant to administering authorities whom, in accordance with Supporting People grant conditions, decide how they spend this grant based on their knowledge of local need.

The following table indicates the total amount of revenue funding allocated to local authorities and the voluntary sector to tackle homelessness in each of the five years. The individual local authority homelessness grant allocations are available in the Library of the House.


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Homelessness grant for local authorities and voluntary sector
Total (£ million)

2003-04

70.9

2004-05

60.6

2005-06

59.5

2006-07

67.0

2007-08

74.0


I have deposited in the Library of the House a table of the revenue funding administrative authorities spent on rough sleeping under the Supporting People Programme.

On 5 December, we announced homelessness grant funding of at least £150 million over the three years 2008-09 to 2010-11 to continue to support local authorities to tackle and prevent homelessness in their area. This a 6 per cent. increase on the current year.

In addition to the homelessness grants, £90 million has been made available to authorities under the Hostels Capital Improvement Programme in the last three years to improve hostels and day centres used by rough sleepers. We announced a new £70 million three year Places of Change Programme on 13 November which builds upon the success of the £90 million 2005-08 Hostels Capital Improvement Programme.

Smoking

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether any (a) Ministers and (b) staff have been disciplined for breaching the public smoking ban on her Department's premises, and the premises of its agencies, since its coming into force. [173303]

Mr. Dhanda: No Department for Communities and Local Government staff or Ministers have been disciplined for breaching the public smoking ban on departmental or departmental agency premises.

Social Services: Elderly

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what guidance her Department has issued to local authority social services departments on the acceptability of strip washing for elderly people where disabled facility grants cannot cover all of the demands for shower and other adaptations; and if she will make a statement. [173246]

Mr. Iain Wright: In November 2004 Communities and Local Government issued “Delivering Housing Adaptations for Disabled People: A Good Practice Guide”. The guidance advises that the provision of a lavatory and washing, bathing and showering facilities have been separated in order to clarify that a disabled or elderly person should have access to a washbasin, a WC and a shower or bath (or if more appropriate, both a shower and a bath) (The Housing Grants Construction and Renewal Act, chapter 53, part 1, section 23(1) (e) to (g)). Therefore a disabled facilities grant should be given to provide a disabled or older person with each of these facilities. The grant is subject to an assessment of the person’s needs and a means test.


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Chapter 5 of CLG's guidance covers the assessment of need for adaptations, and refers to Department of Health guidance for general principles of assessment for social care for adults.

Standards Board: Finance

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what yearly financial savings the Standards Board is expected to make from its relocation from London to Manchester. [173302]

John Healey: The Standards Board has identified that, as a consequence of its relocation from London to Manchester, savings will be made of £847,000 in 2008-09, £1,267,000 in 2009-10 and £1,353,000 thereafter.

Trade Unions

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what meetings (a) she and (b) Ministers in her Department has had with representatives of trades unions in the last 12 months. [173324]

Mr. Dhanda: Details of meetings between Ministers and outside interest groups, including trade unions, are provided on the Department's website at:

Urban Areas: Recreation Spaces

Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what guidance her Department provides on how much public green space should be available per head of population in urban areas. [174715]

Mr. Iain Wright: Guidance on the provision of public green space is set out in planning policy guidance note 17 (PPG17) “Planning for Open Space, Sport and Recreation” (2002). Government policy is that open space standards, including standards for public green space as well as other types of open space, should be set locally since prescriptive national standards cannot cater for local circumstances such as differing demographic profiles and the extent of existing built development in an area. Local planning authorities should therefore undertake robust assessments of the existing and future needs of their communities for all forms of open space, sports and recreational facilities and audits of their existing open space and facilities. These can then be used to set appropriate local standards in development plans. Guidance on undertaking assessments and audits and deriving local standards is set out in “Assessing Needs and Opportunities: A Companion Guide to PPG17”, published by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister in 2002.

Urban Areas: Sustainable Development

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what plans she has to introduce the EU's Joint European Support for Sustainable Investment in City Areas funding mechanism in England. [171587]


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John Healey: My Department would support use of the Joint European Support for Sustainable Investment in City Areas (JESSICA) instrument in English regions where regional partners wish to use European Regional Development Fund resources innovatively.

The regional development agencies have all made provision for its use over the 2007-13 spending period. But it is too early to expect finished proposals and there remain a number of questions about the application of JESSICA. EU member states are working with the European Commission and European Investment Bank (EIB) to clarify these questions, including through discussion of specific RDA proposals. For example, the EIB has, by agreement, commissioned a feasibility study for London.

Peter Luff: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government when she will publish the criteria she will use to assess which proposals for eco-towns will be taken forward. [173872]

Yvette Cooper [holding answer 17 December 2007]: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 3 December 2007, Official Report, column 882W, to the hon. Member for Winchester (Mr. Oaten).

Valuation Office Agency

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will place in the Library a copy of the (a) presentation and (b) handouts, produced by the Valuation Office Agency on Automated Valuation Models presented at the National Rating Day in June. [173321]

John Healey: I have deposited a copy of the presentation, which was also provided as a handout, in the Library of the House.

Voluntary Organisations: Finance

Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what her Department’s budget has been for supporting voluntary community organisations in each of the last five years. [173472]

Mr. Dhanda: The total departmental budget comprises support from specific programmes in addition to support through generic schemes such as the Neighbourhood Renewal Fund and Supporting People. The level of support through these programmes for the voluntary and community sector is not held centrally. We are working with the Office of the Third Sector to improve reporting on this funding support as part of the comprehensive spending review commitment to produce an annual report to Parliament.

We estimate that our specific funding programmes for the voluntary and community sector over the last five years have provided support totalling:


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Estimated total (£ million)

2003-04

21.5

2004-05

26.5

2005-06

29.5

2006-07

32.5

2007-08

29.5


Water Supply: Safety

Mary Creagh: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what progress has been made in her Department’s plans to improve hot water safety by reviewing Part G of the Building Regulations. [172973]

Mr. Iain Wright: Since announcing our intention in June 2007 to review the scope for improving all aspects of hot water safety in Part G of the Building Regulations we have held meetings with key stakeholders in London, Taunton and Doncaster and have held the first meeting of a Building Regulations Advisory Committee Working Group. This group includes experts on hot water systems and will advise on how new requirements can best be introduced and on the content of the accompanying guidance (the Approved Document). We expect to launch a full public consultation on the draft amendments to the Building Regulations and the revised supporting guidance in spring 2008 with a view to fully implementing the new requirements in April 2009.

Young People

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many staff aged between 16 and 18 were employed by her Department and its predecessors (a) directly and (b) through an employment agency in each of the last 10 years; what proportion of these were given time off work to undertake some form of training; and what proportion were provided with some form of training (i) wholly and (ii) partially funded by her Department. [171279]

Mr. Dhanda: The numbers of individuals aged between 16 and 18 employed by the Department in each complete year since the formation of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister in May 2002 are given in the following table.

Number of 16 to 18-year-olds joining the Department
(a) directly (b) through a recruitment agency

2006

0

3

2005

1

0

2004

1

0

2003

2

0


On joining the Department all new entrants have an induction meeting at which they are told about the corporately funded training that is offered such as the welcome event. In addition each directorate holds a training budget and line managers take responsibility to ensure that their staff receive training in order to carry out their tasks and for developmental purposes.


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Youth Services: Finance

Mr. Kemp: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment she has made of the effect of double-damping on funding for children and young adult services in the City of Sunderland; and if she will make a statement. [173561]

John Healey: In the course of this summer’s consultation on options for changing the Formula Grant distribution system, we published illustrations of what each council’s level of grant in 2007-08 would have been if neither grant floor damping nor social services formula damping had been applied. This illustration showed Sunderland’s grant would have been 2.4 per cent. higher, in the absence of formula damping but before overall grant floors damping.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Afghanistan: Reconstruction

Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what studies have been completed by the Post Conflict Reconstruction Unit into the UK reconstruction in (a) Afghanistan and (b) Iraq; and if he will make a statement. [174174]

Mr. Douglas Alexander: I have been asked to reply.

The Stabilisation Unit, formerly known as the Post Conflict Reconstruction Unit (PCRU), has completed two studies focused on the UK reconstruction in Afghanistan and Iraq. In November 2006, the Unit led a review of the UK-led Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) in Helmand and Basra. In August 2007, the Unit undertook a case study review of the planning for and execution of the Helmand PRT deployment.

Africa: Security

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps are under consideration to improve the security situation in the north west region of the Central African Republic and Chad. [173700]

Meg Munn: We are very concerned about the continuing security and humanitarian crisis in the Central African Republic and Chad. In response the UK co-sponsored UN Security Council Resolution 1778 (2007), which authorises the deployment of a European security and defence police force and a UN multidimensional mission to Chad and the north-east of the Central African Republic. The overall aim of the joint operation is to create the conditions necessary for voluntary, secure and sustainable return of refugees and internally displaced persons. The mission is planned to deploy in early 2008.

The UK has also supported the extension of the mandate of the UN Peace-Building Office in the Central African Republic. Its aim is to assist the government of the Central African Republic in consolidating peace and national reconciliation and strengthening democratic institutions. In addition, the
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UK supports the multinational force of Central Africa which has bases in the north-west of the Central African Republic and whose mandate is to contribute to the restoration of peace and security in the Central African Republic.

In the medium term, a national security seminar on the Central African Republic, organised by the government of the Central African Republic and the UN Development Programme, is due to be held in March 2008. We hope this will set out a road-map for security sector reform, including of the police, army and prisons. The EU will then play an important role in co-ordinating the agreed reforms.


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