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22 Jan 2008 : Column 1801Wcontinued
Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will make it her policy to take into account the number of high risk industrial sites in each fire authority area allocating resources to fire authorities. 
Mr. Dhanda: The distribution of formula grant takes into account the relative needs and potential to raise income locally (resources) of an authority, relative to all other authorities providing the same service. It also contains a central allocation and a floor damping mechanism.
To reflect needs, the Fire and Rescue Relative Needs Formula (RNF) takes into account the resident population, coastline, deprivation, high risk sites, property and societal risk and community fire safety. The high risk sites element is measured by the number of top tier Control of Major Accident hazards (COMAH) sites per head. The COMAH sites data are sourced from the Health and Safety Executive and for the 2008-09, 2009-10 and 2010-11 settlement, the count is as at 1 October 2007.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much has been spent from the public purse on home information packs including (a) administration costs, (b) legal fees, (c) external advisers, (d) websites, (e) research and area trials, (f) communications, publicity and publishing, (g) agency staff and (h) other costs in relation to the home information packs. 
Yvette Cooper: An update on programme spend was given in the House on 29 October 2007, Official Report, column 653W. Since then HIPs and EPC expenditure has been as follows:
|HIP programme spend (£)|
|(1) Includes departmental staff working on HIPs and EPC development, management and implementation.|
Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what recent steps the Government have taken to update and improve the quality of social housing in the West Midlands. 
Mr. Iain Wright: The most significant step we have taken to improve the quality of social housing has been the introduction of the decent homes standard in 2001.
This led to the requirement, set out in the Deputy Prime Minister's Sustainable Communities Plan 2003, for all local housing authorities with council stock to undertake and complete stock options appraisal to identify investment options in order to meet the decent homes standard for all council housing by 2010.
These options included large scale voluntary stock transfer, arms length management organisations, and the private finance initiative, all with the potential for additional Government funding. In the West Midlands, three local authorities formed arms length management organisations (Sandwell, Solihull and Wolverhampton). Collectively they received allocations from CLG during 2007-08 of over £104 million, with over £340 million additional proposed for the period 2008 to 2011.
In April 2003 there were 137,698 non-decent council homes in the West Midlands making up just over 55 per cent. of the total council stock. Provisional figures as of April 2007 show that this figure has almost halved to 69,401 (-68,297), representing just 32 per cent. of the council housing stock. This is a clear demonstration that this policy is improving the quality of social housing in the region.
The decent homes target also applies to the social housing in the ownership of registered social landlords (RSLs). Here data available from the Housing Corporation for 2007, shows the number of non-decent dwellings owned by RSLs in the West Midlands to be 22,056, 9.46 per cent. of the regional RSL stock. RSLs are working effectively to achieve 100 per cent. decency without recourse to Government funding through the delivery of asset management strategies funded by rents and private finance.
In addition to renovations to properties in this sector, funding for the Affordable Housing programme, administered by the Housing Corporation, has resulted in an allocation to the West Midlands of £377 million over the period 2004-05 to 2007-08, to subsidise delivery of new high quality social housing, over 8,600 new affordable homes for rent and low cost sale through registered social landlords. We are now close to concluding the 2008 to 2011 allocations which will make available an additional £467 million through this programme, generating an additional 7,000 new social rented sector homes and 3,600 low cost homes.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 20 November 2007, Official Report, column 783, on local authorities: finance, what proportion of total annual expenditure of the seven Gloucestershire local authorities the cost of administrative overheads was in the last year for which figures are available. 
John Healey: The information requested is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
Sir Peter Soulsby: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what information her Department holds on (a) the number of local authorities which charge for treating mice infestations in residential properties and (b) the average price charged by local authorities for such treatment. 
Joan Ruddock: I have been asked to reply.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs holds no information on either the number of local authorities which charge for treating mice infestations in residential properties or the average price charged. It is for local authorities to decide on the most appropriate pest control programme in their own area, while having regard to their duties under the Prevention of Damage by Pests Act 1949.
Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the cost to the public purse was of the visit by the chief executive of Thames Gateway and others to Emscher Park in Germany's Ruhr Valley in October; and if she will make a statement. 
Yvette Cooper: The visit to Emscher Park in Germany on 3 to 5 October 2007 by the Thames Gateway chief executive and others was paid for by Communities and Local Government (CLG), the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) and other agencies who had representatives on the trip. The cost of the flight of the Thames Gateway chief executive and other costs including accommodation, food and transport were paid for by CABE. The flight of one other CLG official was paid for by CLG, but accommodation and other costs for this officer were paid for by CABE. The total cost to CLG of this trip was therefore £377.00.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government for what reasons the early severance and early retirement costs for her Department and the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister rose from £2.3 million in 2004 to £8.0 million in 2006. 
Mr. Dhanda: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given today reference parliamentary question 173309.
Mr. Andrew Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what progress has been made on arrangements for the accountability of regional Ministers to the House throughout the creation of select committees. 
Mr. Dhanda [holding answer 21 January 2008]: The Government's position as set out in the Governance of Britain Green Paper proposes regional Ministers being held accountable through parliamentary questions and scrutiny by parliamentary committee. Whether this is best actioned by select committees or some other arrangement has yet to be decided. The details and structure of committees is under consideration by the Modernisation Committee of the House. The Government will be submitting their evidence in due course. It will ultimately be for Parliament to decide what structure for regional accountability will be established.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what consultation is planned as part of the east of england regional spatial strategy. 
Mr. Dhanda: No further consultation is planned as part of the process of finalising the Regional Spatial Strategy for the East of England, also known as the East of England Plan. There has been substantial public consultation at the various stages of the plans development, namely the 14 week consultation on the Draft East of England Plan (launched December 2004), the 12 week consultation on the Secretary of States Proposed Changes to the Draft Plan (launched December 2006) and most recently the Secretary of States Further Proposed Changes to the Draft Plan (launched October 2007).
Mr. Bone: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the Governments plans are to provide fire service coverage in relation to developments which take place under the South Midlands and Milton Keynes Spatial Core Strategy. 
Mr. Dhanda: Fire and rescue authorities (FRAs) are required by the Fire and Rescue Service National Framework to have in place and maintain an Integrated Risk Management Plan (IRMP) which reflects local need and sets out plans to tackle effectively both existing and potential risks to communities. The IRMP enables the authority to tailor cover for fire and other incidents to local circumstancesevaluating where risk is greatest and allocating resource accordingly. It is a requirement that the IRMP is subject to a full consultation with the local community before it is agreed and published.
It is not the role of Ministers to agree the operational proposals in an authoritys plan; that is for the elected members of the authority concerned. They are best placed to act on the professional advice of principal officers, including taking into consideration any relevant local planning and community strategies, and to balance
the competing local demands on available resources for the benefits of the communities they serve.
Anne Milton: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government when her proposed changes to the draft South East Plan will be published. 
Mr. Dhanda: The Secretary of States Proposed Changes for the draft Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS) for the South East (The South East Plan) will be published for consultation later this year.
To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many rough
sleepers were recorded in each region in England in each year since 1997; and how many were (a) over the age of 60 years and (b) under the age of 25 years in each year. 
Mr. Iain Wright: A national estimate of the number of rough sleepers in England is published every September. The estimate is based on the results of local authority street counts in those areas where a known, or suspected, rough sleeping problem has been identified. The following table sets out the national rough sleeping estimate, broken down by region, for each year since 1998. We do not hold this information for 1997.
This Department does not hold information relating to the age of rough sleepers.
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