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31 Jan 2008 : Column 580Wcontinued
Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what consideration has been given to requiring the inclusion of information on risk of flooding in home information packs. 
Caroline Flint: Searches relating to the risk of flooding are authorised documents for inclusion in the home information pack. The mandatory inclusion of these searches in the home information pack is one of a number of measures being considered as part of the reform of the home buying and selling process.
Information on flood risk for a particular postcode is available free of charge on the Environment Agency website for any member of the public to access.
Anne Main: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government when she expects to receive the results of the Ipsos MORI independent evaluation of the home information pack trial. 
Caroline Flint: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to the hon. Member for Welwyn Hatfield (Grant Shapps) on 29 October 2007, Official Report, column 652W.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what ability the proposed new Homes and Communities Agency will have to make decisions on (a) housing and (b) planning over and above the decision-making process of local authorities. 
Caroline Flint: Clause 13 of the Housing and Regeneration Bill allows the Secretary of State to designate an area as suitable for development where one of two conditions are met. Where an area is designated planning functions may be conferred upon the Homes and Communities Agency.
The power to designate an area and confer planning functions on a specially created body is not new. The power in clause 13 is based on the provisions in the Leasehold Reform Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 in relation to the Urban Regeneration Agency (URA).
As in the case of the URA, the Homes and Communities Agency will not have any planning powers as of right. Any planning powers that are conferred on it must be set out in the order designating the area of land over which it is to be the local planning authority and will need to be exercised within the existing planning regime. The order is made by the Secretary of State and is subject to the negative resolution procedure.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what steps she is taking to increase competition in the market for property purchase local searches. 
Caroline Flint: The Department published guidance on 18 January: Personal searches of the local land charges register and other records held by local authoritiesGood practice guidance for local authorities and personal searchers; and the consultation paper Local Authority Property Search Services: Charges for Property Search ServicesA consultation paper. The consultation period ends on 18 April.
Together these two documents aim to deliver the level playing field that the Office of Fair Trading identified as being necessary to increase competition in the provision of property searches.
James Duddridge: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what estimate she has made of the number of qualified (a) home inspectors and (b) domestic energy assessors in (i) Rochford and Southend, East constituency, (ii) England and (iii) Wales. 
Caroline Flint: The most recent published data as at 29 November 2007 provides the following information on the number of accredited home inspectors and domestic energy assessors in Rochford and Southend, East constituency, England and Wales.
Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what proportion of (a) right-to-buy receipts, (b) transfer receipts and (c) other housing receipts were (i) paid to the Department and (ii) retained by local authorities in each year since 1997. 
Caroline Flint: Under the set-aside regime, which ran until 1 April 2004, with-debt local authorities were required to set aside a proportion of the capital receipt generated by the disposal of a Housing Revenue Account (HRA) asset, for repayment of housing debt. For right to buy that proportion was 75 per cent. For stock-transfer receipts the set-aside was also 75 per cent. unless the value of the housing debt exceeded 75 per cent. in which case the amount to be set aside was raised until it met the value of the debt. For other, non-dwelling sales, the proportion of set-aside was 50 per cent. The local authority was free to use the remaining 25-50 per cent. respectively for any capital purpose they chose.
The Department recorded the value of capital receipts set-aside but no differentiation was made between RTB sales, transfer receipts and other disposals of housing assets which generated a capital receipt.
The gross value of right to buy capital receipts and the gross value of transfer receipts were collected as separate exercisesthough the value of set-aside resulting from these receipts cannot be separately identified.
The following table shows the gross receipts from Large Scale Voluntary Transfers (LSVT) of local authority housing from 1997-98 to date, the gross value of right to buy receipts generated by disposals in both with-debt and debt-free authorities from 1997-98, the value of capital receipts set-aside from 1997-98 to 2002-03 and the value of pooled capital receipts for 2004-05 to 2006-07.
|Transfer receipts||Total RTB receipts||Set-aside/pooled capital receipts|
The Department does not collect data on the level of debt actually repaid using transfer receipts. This is a treasury management decision for the local authority. The only data collected on transfer receipts is their total value. No data on set-aside was collected for 2003-04 as a result of the transition to the pooling regime which was introduced in 2004-05. The Department does not collect data on the value of receipts retained by local authorities.
Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the equivalent notional APR is of interest charged to a HomeBuyer under the 32.5 per cent. open market HomeBuy scheme when they sell their property and are obliged to share any increase in property value with the HomeBuy Agency and Yorkshire Building Society, assuming annual property price inflation over the period of the loan of (a) 4 per cent., (b) 8 per cent. and (c) 12 per cent. 
Caroline Flint: Under the open market HomeBuy product offered in partnership with Yorkshire Building Society, which offers equity loans of up to 32.5 per cent. of the purchase price, buyers repay their equity loans to the HomeBuy Agent and the Yorkshire Building Society on resale of the property at the rate at which their home has increased in value. Assuming annual property price inflation over the period of the loan of (a) 4 per cent., (b) 8 per cent. and (c) 12 per cent. the equivalent notional APR of interest charged on the equity loans on resale of the property will be 4 per cent., 8 per cent. or 12 per cent. respectively.
Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what recent assessment she has made of the effectiveness of the role of HomeBuy agents in marketing housing schemes for first time buyers. 
Caroline Flint: I refer the hon. Member to the reply he was given on 26 November 2007, Official Report, column 148W.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many completed social HomeBuy sales there have been to date among (a) housing associations and (b) local authorities. 
Caroline Flint: In April 2006 four social landlords began piloting Social HomeBuy on a voluntary basis. The Social HomeBuy scheme allows participating local authorities and housing associations to offer tenants living in social rented accommodation the opportunity to purchase discounted shares of their home starting with an initial share of 25 per cent. The scheme will continue to increase opportunities for social housing tenants to access homeownership.
The majority of the 138 sales to end December 2007 have come from completions with the first phase of participating landlords, most of whom joined in late 2006. 135 sales were from housing associations and three were from local authorities. Since April 2007 a second phase of landlords have joined the scheme and are now offering Social HomeBuy to their tenants. As with normal home purchases it can take several months to reach completion.
Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what role regional Ministers will play in deciding applications for housing growth points; who will make the final decision on such applications; and when each decision will be made. 
Caroline Flint [holding answer 17 January 2008]: Regional Ministers do not have a specific role in the consideration of expressions of interest for growth points. Following consultation with other Government Departments, agencies and regional bodies, Communities and Local Government Ministers intend to make a final decision on the selected schemes shortly. However, all growth point expressions of interest will be subject to testing through the planning system.
Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government under the proposed changes to the Planning Policy Statement on Climate Change whether a demonstration that reaching the target of sourcing 10 per cent. of energy from on-site renewable sources was unachievable would be required before energy provision from off-site renewable sources would be taken into account in planning decisions. 
Caroline Flint [holding answer 22 November 2007 ]: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave him today to PQ 165247.
Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what her Departments definition is of off-site in relation to the provision of energy from renewable sources for new developments; and whether this definition is the same as that used in the Code for Sustainable Buildings. 
Caroline Flint [holding answer 22 November 2007]: The Code for Sustainable Homes technical guidance (available on the Departments website) sets out the definition of zero carbon for the purposes of the code and makes clear that off-site renewable contributions can only be used where these are directly supplied to the dwellings by private wire arrangement. This is in line with the general policy set out in Building a Greener Future policy document (available from the Departments website). As set out in Building a Greener Future as new evidence emerges about the cost and practicalities, and as technologies develop, we will develop the definition of zero carbon for the purposes of building regulations, after full consultation and within a sensible time frame that will allow the industry to adjust before the planned changes in 2016.
Andrew Stunell: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) what the administration budget was for (a) Social HomeBuy, (b) New Build HomeBuy, (c) Open Market HomeBuy and (d) the First Time Buyers Initiative in each of the last five years; 
(2) what the marketing budget was for (a) Social HomeBuy, (b) New Build HomeBuy, (c) Open Market HomeBuy and (d) the First Time Buyers Initiative in each of the last five years. 
Yvette Cooper: The HomeBuy schemes, including the First Time Buyers Initiative, commenced on 1 April 2006. Funding arrangements for the marketing and administration costs vary depending on the HomeBuy product and are not separately identifiable.
The network of 23 HomeBuy agents provide a one-stop-shop for HomeBuy applicants and handle the application process for (c) open market HomeBuy and (b) new build HomeBuy, including (d) the First Time Buyers Initiative. HomeBuy agents are responsible for raising general awareness of the various low cost home ownership products and make use of appropriate marketing techniques to achieve this.
HomeBuy agents are contracted to market and administer the open market HomeBuy programme, but not for the marketing of individual homes, which are purchased on the open market. For each open market HomeBuy completion, an allowance is paid to the HomeBuy agents, to cover administration and marketing costs. From April 2007, this allowance has been £3,300 per completion. The same completion fee is also funded by English Partnerships to HomeBuy agents for homes sold under the First Time Buyers Initiative.
There is no separate administration budget for new build HomeBuy: housing associations bidding for new build HomeBuy projects factor in these costs as part of their total scheme costs when bidding to the Housing Corporation for a proportion of the total costs to be funded by social housing grant.
Housing association and local authority landlords participating in (a) the pilot social HomeBuy scheme meet the costs of marketing and administration from the sale proceeds.
For new build HomeBuy and social HomeBuy, housing associations deduct an administrative allowance to cover
their legal and administration costs from the sales receipt on completion of sale, or on the sale of further shares. Details of the administrative allowances are set out in the following table.
|Property disposal deductible administrative allowances|
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