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make arrangements for certifying grant claims and returns.
The Commission appoints professionally qualified auditors from its own staff (known as District Auditors) and private firms of auditors. Once appointed, auditors carry out their statutory and other responsibilities, and are required by the Code of Audit Practice to exercise their professional judgement, independently of the Commission.
The separation between the Commission and its appointed auditors is reflected in statute and case law. The Act confers the duties and powers of the appointed auditor on appointed auditors, who exercise their duties and powers in their own right.
The statutory independence of auditors means that the Commission cannot:
interfere with an appointed auditor's exercise of his or her professional skill and judgement in performing his or her statutory functions;
substitute its own judgements for those of an appointed auditor in the exercise of those functions; or
direct an appointed auditor to act or to review his or her decisions, as only the courts have the powers to do so.
The Commission appoints the auditors to the GLA and its associated bodies including the IDA. The District Auditor for both the GLA and the IDA is Mike Haworth-Maden.
It is not therefore a matter for the Commission itself to investigate the recent claims of impropriety in the allocation of grants by the IDA and the GLA. Those claims are properly matters for the consideration of the independent District Auditor in the exercise of his functions (see below).
The role of the appointed auditor
The Audit Commission Act 1998 sets out the specific statutory duties of appointed auditors.
to comply with the Code of Audit Practice]
to give an opinion on the accounts of the audited body;
to satisfy themselves that the accounts comply with statutory requirements and have been compiled in accordance with proper practices;
to satisfy themselves that the audited body has made proper arrangements for securing economy, efficiency and effectiveness in its use of resources; and
to certify completion of the audit.
In addition, auditors of local government bodies (which include the GLA and IDA) have other statutory duties and powers:
to consider issuing a public interest report about any matter that comes to their attention during the audit, which they judge should be considered by the audited body or brought to public attention;
to decide whether the audited body should consider formally, and respond to in public, matters raised in an audit report;
to give electors the opportunity to raise questions about the accounts, and consider and decide on objections received from electors about the accounts; and
where unlawful expenditure has been or is about to be incurred by an audited body, to issue an advisory notice, to apply to the courts for a declaration that an item of account is unlawful or apply for judicial review.
The Code of Audit Practice requires that where, in the course of an audit, representations are made to the auditor or information is provided that is relevant to the audit, or matters relevant to the audit otherwise come to their attention, auditors should consider whether the matter needs investigation and action.
Work carried out by the District Auditor
The District Auditor is currently considering a number of allegations concerning the allocation of grants that have recently been reported in the media. I understand that matters have also been referred to him by three MPs and the London Assembly.
The District Auditor is considering these matters in the context of his statutory responsibilities. His initial focus has been the conduct and findings of the GLA's and LDA's internal reviews to date. In this context, he has received the reports on the reviews recently undertaken by the Statutory Finance Officers:
(a) for the GLA, the report of the Executive Director of Finance and Performance dated 9 January 2008 (which is available on the GLA's website); and
(b) for the LDA, the report of the Group Director, Risk and Resources dated 11 January 2008 (which is available on the LDA's website).
His work to assess the conduct and findings of those reviews, and other related internal activity undertaken to date by the GLA and LDA, is currently in progress. As part of this, he has recently met officers from the Metropolitan Police with regard to the ongoing police investigations into a number of matters that the LDA's Statutory Finance Officer has referred to the police.
On the basis of his assessment of the internal reviews carried out by the GLA and the LDA, he will assess the further work required on his part, including whether further information, interviews or other investigation activity (of the GLA and LDA itself, or of third parties) is required with regard to the specific projects referred to him. This will also inform his wider assessment of the GLA and LDA in the context of his statutory responsibilities, including the arrangements for making grants.
In following the approach set out, he will need to have regard to other ongoing work, including:
the Metropolitan Police's ongoing investigations;
the further work that the LDA is carrying out on a number of specific projects, but also with regard to its planned wider risk-based project review; and
London Assembly scrutiny activity.
It is too early to assess the timescale for completion of this exercise.
I hope you find the above helpful. Please contact me, or Mr Haworth-Maden, should you wish to discuss any of the matters raised .
A copy of this letter will be placed in the House of Commons Library.
Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether the district auditor has oversight over the (a) London Development Agency and (b) Greater London Authority. 
Julia Goldsworthy: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many (a) walk-in and (b) referral-only hostel places were available in each region in England in each year since 1997. 
Homeless UK, an online national database of accommodation services for the homeless which is funded by Communities and Local Government, holds current information on direct access hostels for rough sleepers on a regional basissee table as follows. Direct access hostels for rough sleepers are short stay emergency services for rough sleepers where people are usually referred in by outreach services or self-refer.
|Direct access hostels listed on Homeless UK by region|
Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 11 December 2007, Official Report, columns 546-47W, on housing: energy, what her Departments estimate is of the costs of retrofitting the existing (a) public and (b) private domestic housing stock to meet minimum standards for energy efficiency at entry level (one star rating) of the Code for Sustainable Homes. 
Mr. Iain Wright: The Department has not made such an estimate because the code for sustainable homes applies to new homes, not existing homes. The Departments impact assessment into making ratings mandatory under the code that formed part of the Impact Assessment of the Housing and Regeneration Bill includes an estimate of the increased build costs arising for new homes at the different code levels against current building regulations standards. This assessment is available on the
Martin Horwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether local authorities that sign up to growth point status are committed to support accelerated housing development in Green Belt areas if these are included in draft Regional Spatial Strategy allocations. 
Mr. Iain Wright: The New Growth Points initiative will encourage well-planned, sustainable growth and much of the new development will be focused on brownfield sites within existing town and city boundaries. Further, New Growth Point status is tested by the planning system and the implications for any green belt land would be subject to consultation and examination of the relevant proposals through the regional planning process and local development frameworks.
Martin Horwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether a local authority's proposal to gain growth point status must involve acceptance of housing growth to at least the level proposed by the Regional Spatial Strategy; and whether there is a requirement for this growth to be accelerated. 
Mr. Iain Wright: Expressions of interest for growth points will need to offer significant, strategic growth which is additional to previous plans and which takes into account changes in plan levels between 2003, the current round of RSS reviews and the Housing Green Paper which sets a new national target of delivering 240,000 homes a year by 2016. The rate of housing growth will be determined by the regional planning process and local development frameworks.
Martin Horwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what expectations her Department has of local authorities who apply for and accept growth point status in terms of (a) accelerated and (b) additional housing growth compared with the levels of growth proposed by the relevant Regional Spatial Strategy. 
Mr. Iain Wright:
The Housing Green Paper sets a new target of delivering 240,000 homes a year by 2016 but the rate of housing growth in specific local and
regional areas will be determined by the regional planning process and local development frameworks. Potential growth points are expected to offer significant additional growth to previous plans that take into account changes in plan levels between 2003, the current round of RSS reviews and the Housing Green Paper national targets.
Martin Horwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much her Department has budgeted for additional funding to local authorities with growth point status; and for what purposes local authorities would be permitted to use these additional funds. 
John Healey: The Department will be investing £1.7 billion across Growth Areas, the Thames Gateway, Growth Points and Eco-Towns during the CSR07 period, and it is intended to announce funding specific to the 2nd round of growth points in the spring. This will be subject to similar funding conditions to that for existing growth points, announced in December.
Mr. Paul Goodman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what criteria were used to select the attendees at the two roundtable meetings hosted by her Department since April 2007 in which womens access to mosque life was discussed.  [Official Report, 22 February 2008, Vol. 472, c. 11MC.]
Mr. Dhanda [holding answer 31 January 2008]: The attendees were selected using a range of factors including their expertise and knowledge and the Preventing Violent Extremism agenda. All the participants are in leadership positions within key organisations and have links to grass-root communities, ensuring balanced representation across Muslim communities.
Mr. Paul Goodman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much was spent on the development of leadership skills among Muslim (a) women and (b) young people in each year since 1997. 
Mr. Dhanda [holding answer 31 January 2008]: The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) was formed on 5 May 2006. Since that date £118,000 has been spent directly by the Department on projects relating to the development of leadership skills of women and £225,000 on projects relating to the development of leadership skills of young people.
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