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Community Relations

Mr. Paul Goodman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government where her Department plans to pilot specialist cohesion teams to support local authorities facing cohesion challenges; how many people the teams will comprise; what support they will provide; and if she will make a statement. [190121]

Mr. Dhanda: We have yet to develop detailed plans to take forward the commitment to support local authorities in promoting community cohesion by developing specialist cohesion teams to support those areas experiencing rapid change and other cohesion challenges. We will be consulting with local government on proposals over the next few months.

Mr. Paul Goodman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what plans her Department has to work with the Academy for Sustainable Communities to build on existing cohesion programmes; and what plans the Academy has to improve the skills of planning and housing practitioners on integration and cohesion matters. [190156]

Mr. Dhanda: The Academy for Sustainable Communities is potentially well-placed to improve awareness and practice among local authorities and practitioners to drive local action on community cohesion. Its existing cross-professional and cross-sector reach provides a mechanism for developing shared understanding and strategies to tackle common challenges. It has commissioned a community cohesion research project. The aim of the research is to demystify the language and key issues that surround cohesion and create a learning resource that can be used by all in the sector. The project will clarify the critical steps that proactively address cohesion as an embedded part of building sustainable communities. The project will then develop appropriate learning resources and guidance for these key professionals. Communities and Local Government is working with the Academy to ensure that the outcomes of the cohesion research project are aligned with the Department’s forthcoming Cohesion Delivery Framework so that these two resources complement each other.

Mr. Paul Goodman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government when her Department plans to publish the guidance for local authorities on tension monitoring referred to in the Government’s response to the Commission on Integration and Cohesion. [190159]

Mr. Dhanda: We expect to publish guidance for local authorities on tension monitoring shortly.

Community Relations: Finance

Mr. Paul Goodman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government when she plans to decide how the £8 million cohesion element of the Connecting Communities Plus grant programme referred to in the Government’s response to the Commission on Integration and Cohesion will be distributed; what type of projects these grants will support; and if she will make a statement. [190114]


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Mr. Dhanda: Decisions about the future use of £8 million relating to the Connecting Communities Plus grant programme, which has community cohesion as one of its four themes and runs till the end of the financial year 2008-09, will be taken next year.

Mr. Paul Goodman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government which regional improvement efficiency partnerships (RIEPs) will receive funding from the £3 million allocated for 2008 to 2011 to develop local capacity to tackle community cohesion challenges; what criteria will be used to allocate funding to them; what funding is planned for each local authority within each RIEP; on what criteria this funding will be allocated; on what type of projects these funds will be spent; how the effectiveness of the spending will be evaluated; and if she will make a statement. [190115]

Mr. Dhanda: Decisions about distribution of this funding between regional improvement efficiency partnerships (RIEPs) will be made in the light of how cohesion is prioritized in their strategies for 2008-09 to 2010-11, and the inclusion of cohesion improvement targets in local area agreements running for the same period. Once the basis on which funding is to be allocated is established, it will be for RIEPs to decide, in consultation with local areas, and taking into account performance against local area agreement targets, how the funding will be used. The implementation of the RIEPs’ strategies for 2008-09 to 2010-11 will be the subject of annual reports by the RIEPs. The detail of how these reports will cover the effectiveness of support for cohesion is subject to further discussion with the Local Government Association.

Community Relations: Standards

Mr. Paul Goodman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how the effectiveness of the community empowerment action plan referred to in the Government's response to the Commission on Integration and Cohesion will be assessed; and if she will make a statement. [190117]

Mr. Dhanda: The actions identified in the Community Empowerment Action Plan will play a key part in delivering public service agreement 21, building more cohesive, empowered and active communities. The effectiveness of the action plan will therefore be assessed within the PSA framework.

Departmental Home Working

David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many people in her Department have been authorised to work from home in the last 12 months. [189786]

Mr. Dhanda: The Department launched a revised flexible working policy in July 2007, under which all staff can apply for home working, whether or not they have a statutory right to request a flexible working pattern.

Since home working is agreed at a local level HR do not keep a central record of home working arrangements.
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However, work taking place on our Personnel Information Management System will allow staff to record their flexible working patterns.

In additional to formal home working arrangements, staff can request occasional home working for short periods. This would be an informal arrangement with their line manager which is not centrally recorded.

Departmental Manpower

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many (a) staff and (b) full-time equivalent staff under 18 years of age are employed by her Department. [189086]

Mr. Dhanda: As at 31 January 2008 there were no staff aged under 18 years employed by this Department.

Departmental Temporary Employment

Pete Wishart: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what average hourly rate her Department and its predecessors paid to employment agencies for agency staff in each year since 1999, broken down by employment agency. [187906]

Mr. Dhanda: The information requested is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Departmental Travel

Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much her Department and its agencies spent on first class travel in the last 12 months for which figures are available, broken down by staff grade. [187527]

Mr. Dhanda: The information requested is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Departmental Vehicles

Mr. Spellar: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the Answer of 18 February 2008, Official Report, column 15W, on departmental vehicles, how many of the vehicles in each category were made in the UK. [189915]

Mr. Dhanda: The vehicles listed in the answer of 18 February 2008, Official Report, column 15W, were made in the following countries;

Vehicles Country of manufacture

MPVs (Multi Purpose Vehicles)

USA

IRU Vehicles (Incident Response Units)

Germany

DIM (Detection, Identification and Monitoring) Vehicles

Italy

Prime Mover Vehicles

Germany


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Fabrication of the bodywork for the IRU and Prime Movers was done in the UK.

Domestic Wastes: Waste Disposal

Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what information is collected from waste collection authorities on public satisfaction with the frequency of household rubbish collections. [189490]

Joan Ruddock: I have been asked to reply.

There are three Best Value User Satisfaction Indicators for waste: BVPI90a, covering satisfaction with household waste collection; BVPI90b, satisfaction with waste recycling with a focus on local facilities; and BVPI90c, satisfaction with waste disposal, concentrating on local tips etc.

The National Indicator Set is limited to measures that help to achieve the Government's priority outcomes. Local authorities’ duties and responsibilities remain unchanged. There are many services and activities undertaken by local government, alone or in partnership, which are not directly reflected in the National Indicator Set, but which continue to be important to local areas and the people who live there. It is more appropriate that these are performance managed locally; with local authorities setting priorities, determining performance indicators and monitoring and reviewing performance. This is part of the process of devolution that local government has been seeking.

The latest national results for public satisfaction with local government and its services, with trends over time, by authority type and by region for each indicator, are available from the Department for Communities and Local Government’s (CLG) website.

A Place Survey run by CLG will be used to collect twenty of the citizen perspective indicators included in the National Indicator Set. This will be collected through a single survey, to be administered by local authorities, and will replace the Best Value User Satisfaction Surveys. We anticipate that the first Place Survey will be carried out this autumn. Government have recently carried out a consultation on this issue, which closed on 8 February.

English Language: Public Participation

Mr. Paul Goodman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government who sat on the two citizens’ juries held jointly by her Department and the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills on English for Speakers of Other Languages held in December 2007; and how they were selected. [190148]

Mr. Dhanda: The identities of individual members of the public who sit on citizens’ juries are not disclosed for reasons of confidentiality. The juries selected for the two juries on English for speakers of other languages were selected to be broadly representative of the local population in terms of gender, age, ethnicity, social grade, work status and life-stage. 18 members of the public were recruited to take part in each of the two locations (17 attended in Hull and 18 in London).


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EU Grants and Loans

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government when she expects to receive advice from the EU on what the grant from the Solidarity Fund can be used for; and if she will make a statement. [190999]

John Healey: The scope of operations eligible under the EU Solidarity Fund are set out in Council Regulation (EC) No. 201/2002. This explains the aim of the Fund which is to complement the efforts of the states concerned and cover a share of their public expenditure in order to help them carry out the following essential emergency operations:

Payments from the Fund are limited to finance works alleviating non insurable damages incurred by public bodies.

Eurostar

Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much her Department and its agencies spent on (a) first and (b) other class travel by Eurostar in the last 12 months for which figures are available. [187752]

Mr. Dhanda: The information requested is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Fire Services: Finance

Julia Goldsworthy: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what funding has been provided by her Department to fire authorities to conduct fire safety audits in the last year. [190684]

Mr. Dhanda: The Department has provided £25 million in capital funding over four years to fire and rescue authorities in England for home fire risk checks. For the final year of the grant programme, 2007-08, the grant totalled £10 million.

Fires: Warrington

Helen Southworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many calls to reports of fires on domestic premises in Warrington were made by Cheshire Fire Service in each quarter of (a) 2006 and (b) 2007. [187963]

Mr. Dhanda: For 2006, data on fire calls attended are only available for the whole of Cheshire Fire and Rescue Authority. Information relating to smaller geographical units (e.g. Warrington) is currently only available up to the end of 2005. As a guide, in 2005 just
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under a fifth of all the domestic fires attended in Cheshire occurred in the Warrington Unitary Authority area.

Information on the number of dwelling fires in Cheshire for each quarter in 2006 is shown in the table. No data are available for 2007.

Dwelling fires attended in Cheshire, by quarter, 2006
Number

1 January to 31 March 2006

183

1 April to 30 June 2006

187

1 July to 30 September 2006

173

1 October to 31 December 2006

216

Total

759

Note:
Data for 2006 are provisional.

Housing: Rural Areas

Tim Farron: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will consider the merits of providing continued central government funding to rural housing enablers as recommended by the Affordable Rural Housing Commission. [189185]

Jonathan Shaw: I have been asked to reply.

The clear vision for the long-term funding of Rural Housing Enablers (RHEs), ever since the first ‘demonstration project’ was launched over 15 years ago, was that they should be supported at local level by the very local authorities and housing associations whose rural delivery they exist to support.

This reflects the Government’s desire to enable decisions about priorities to be taken at the local level in response to local needs, and the important role of local leadership and buy-in in enabling successful delivery.

In many areas this is happening. A number of RHEs are now self-sustaining. Work is currently being undertaken by the Commission for Rural Communities (CRC) to look at how that good practice can be replicated.


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