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1 Apr 2008 : Column 820Wcontinued
Adam Afriyie: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what steps his Department is taking to provide continuing professional development for school careers advisers. 
Beverley Hughes [holding answer 20 February 2008]: The Childrens Plan sets out our vision for a professional, graduate-led childrens work force. This includes looking at ways to professionalise the careers work force in schools, enhancing the range of qualifications, and quality and accessibility of continuing professional development opportunities in careers education. We are building on current support, by developing a range of resources to support the careers work force in schools, including curriculum guidance on careers education and work-related learning; and high-quality classroom materials for teachers.
Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families to which wind farm proposals his Department lodged objections in each of the last three years; and for what reasons in each case. 
Kevin Brennan: No such objections have been lodged.
11. Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government when she next expects to meet representatives of local authorities in East Anglia to discuss unitary local government. 
John Healey: Having been asked by us for advice, the Boundary Committee for England is currently considering unitary local government in Norfolk and Suffolk, and hence local authorities should now be speaking to, and meeting the Committee, which in fact they are doing. We thus have no plans to meet these authorities to discuss unitary local government.
12. Mr. Borrow: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment she has made of the level of affordable social housing required in new housing developments in Lancashire to meet local needs. 
Caroline Flint: The Government are aware of the shortages of affordable houses in many parts of the north-west, including Lancashire and South Ribble.
Providing affordable housing to meet the needs of local areas is a Government priority.
Local authorities are best placed to assess the specific need in their areas, and the Government has helped authorities in Lancashire to do this by funding an independent housing market assessment.
13. Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the percentage change in cash terms has been in band D council tax in (a) Forest of Dean, (b) London and (c) England between 1997-98 and 2008-09. 
Hazel Blears: Between 1997-98 and 2008-09 the average Band D, two adult, council tax in the Forest of Dean district council area rose by 114 per cent.. This figure includes the precepts for Gloucestershire county council, Gloucestershire police authority and parish councils.
The corresponding figure for London was 98 per cent. and for England the figure was 100 per cent.
14. John Barrett: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what discussions she has had with the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform on the contribution of local post offices to community cohesion. 
Mr. Dhanda: My right Hon Friend and I hold regular discussions with counterparts from across Government about a wide range of issues relating to our ambition to build strong, prosperous and cohesive communities across England.
15. Mr. Dunne: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many home information packs and home condition reports have been commissioned. 
Mr. Iain Wright: The commercial and private nature of a home owners decision when to place their property on the market for sale means this information is not available in a robust form. We therefore do not hold this information centrally in the format requested.
16. Joan Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, what steps she has taken following the publication of the consultation paper on the review of sub-national development and regeneration. 
John Healey: We published the Review of Sub-national Economic Development and Regeneration in July last year. We subsequently published an issues paper in December last year, updating stakeholders on progress on implementing the SNR. Yesterday we published a consultation document Prosperous Places: Taking forward the Review of Sub-national Economic Development and Regeneration. The consultation asks for views on the implementation of new regional strategies and the creation of a new duty on local authorities to carry out an economic assessment of their area. It also consults on possible statutory arrangements for sub-regional collaboration among local authorities.
20. Dr. Ladyman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, what progress has been made in implementing the initiatives on regeneration set out in the Unlocking the Talent of our Communities document; and if she will make a statement. 
Hazel Blears: In the document I launched on the 5 March, I announced plans for a new White Paper focused on empowering citizens. The document also outlined our plans to develop a framework for regeneration, and the future of the Working Neighbourhoods Fund.
We will be engaging with stakeholders over the coming months through regional events, expert panels, government offices, discussion forums and third sector organisations. The learning from these exercises will help shape the white paper and future regeneration policy. The empowerment white paper will be published in the summer.
17. Martin Horwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, what her most recent estimate is of the size of the social housing stock. 
Caroline Flint: The social rent stock (local authority and registered social landlord) was estimated at 3.9 million dwellings in England at March 2006.
18. Jim Sheridan: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, what plans she has to review local authority performance in securing developer contributions under section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. 
Mr. Iain Wright: It is for local authorities to decide whether to seek planning obligations to ensure that planning permissions are compatible with planning policies. Authorities should monitor the collection and spending of developer contributions made in this way. The Department has commissioned research on the use of planning obligations and a copy is available in the Library of the House.
19. Mr. Todd: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, what methodology will be used for determining which eco-town bids go forward to consultation; and if she will make a statement. 
Caroline Flint: The criteria and assessment approach for the selection of eco-town sites are set out in the Eco-towns Prospectus.
This was published last July as part of the Housing Green Paper.
The criteria are tough and challenging and only those locations that meet these will be shortlisted for consultation.
21. Ben Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what plans she has to increase the amount of affordable housing in Wirral, South. 
Caroline Flint: Further to the response given by the Secretary of State in October of last year I can confirm we are continuing with our commitment to affordable housing providing £8 billion up to 2011.
Furthermore, the Housing Corporation has announced allocations for the new Affordable Housing Programme for 2008-11 which will contribute towards our Housing Green Paper target of providing 70,000 new affordable homes per annum by 2010-11 of which 45,000 homes will be for social rent.
Following their invite to local providers to bid for affordable homes investment the Housing Corporation have recently announced that £11 million has been approved for 229 homes for the period 2008-11 in Wirral local authority.
22. John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what progress has been made in reopening local authority buildings damaged by the floods in 2007; and if she will make a statement. 
John Healey: Information regarding the reopening of local authority buildings damaged by the floods in 2007 is not held centrally by the Department and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.
We do however have some central information on schools. A total of 858 schools were damaged in last summers floods. All of these have now reopened, and local authorities have advised the Department for Children, Schools and Families of only eight still using temporary classrooms because of flood damage.
23. Greg Mulholland: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what methodology her Department uses to estimate levels of rough sleeping; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Iain Wright: The methodology is set out in the Departments guidance on evaluating the extent of rough sleeping which has been developed in conjunction with the voluntary sector. An estimate of the number of rough sleepers in England is published each September based on the results of local authority street counts. The methodology has been consistently applied over the last 10 years.
24. Mr. Evennett: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will consider the merits of bringing forward legislative proposals to revise the governance arrangements of the Greater London Authority; and if she will make a statement. 
Hazel Blears: The governance arrangements for the Greater London Authority were reviewed as part of the Governments review of the authoritys powers in 2006, and several legislative changes were subsequently made to its governance framework by the Greater London Authority Act 2007.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what liability members of the armed forces, in a single person household which does not have a Ministry of Defence accommodation exemption, have to pay council tax when on active duty overseas. 
John Healey: The amount that a person is liable to pay in council tax for a financial year is primarily a matter for the relevant billing authority. This amount will be specified in a council tax demand notice issued by the relevant billing authority for the year. However, a single person discount of 25 per cent. is available to those people who live alone.
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence announced on 28 January 2008 that all service personnel on designated operations overseas will receive a lump sum payment based on the number of days in theatre and worth £140 over a six-month tour to help with the cost of their council tax. This is equivalent to 25 per cent. of the average council tax bill in England for 2007-08.
John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government when the last equal pay review was completed, in line with the Equality Opportunities Commission guidance, for (a) her Department's headquarters, (b) each of its executive agencies and (c) her Department's Government offices; when those equal pay reviews were made available to the recognised trades unions of each of her Department's bargaining units; and if she will place in the Library each of those reviews. 
Mr. Dhanda [holding answer 13 March 2008]: The information requested is as follows:
The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) was created on 5 May 2006, inheriting functions and employees, under Machinery of Government changes, previously the responsibility of the Office of Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM), the Home Office (Communities Group) and the DTI (Women and Responsibilities Unit). The last equal pay review completed was the ODPM 2003 Equal Pay Review. This was made available to the trade unions in April 2003. The 2006-07 Equal Pay Review is due to be completed by June 2008.
The last equal pay review for Government offices was carried out in June 2007 and sent to the unions in July 2007. This has been deposited in the Library of the House.
PINS' recognised trade unions, PCS and Prospect, participated fully in the Equal Pay Review and the final report was made available to them when it was completed in September 2007 and has been deposited in the Library of the House.
The Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre
No full equal pay review has been completed for the QEII Conference Centre.
The Fire Service College undertook an equal pay review in line with Cabinet Office requirements in 2003. The review findings were communicated widely within the College, and were shared with the unions. Unfortunately, due to both significant change in college management and HR structures since 2003, and also various changes in responsibilities for key staff, the college is unable to locate the original report and associated data. However, summaries of the review and the agreed actions were compiled at the time, these have been deposited in the Library of the House.
Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many staff in her Department and its agencies have attended the (a) Influencing with Integrity, (b) Emotional Intelligence, (c) Counselling Skills for the Workplace, (d) Managing your Confidence, (e) Balancing Work/Life Realities and (f) Working Assertively training course run by the National School of Government in the last 12 months for which information is available; and at what cost. 
Mr. Dhanda: The number of staff in my Department who have attended the courses listed is shown in the following table:
|Course||Number of attendees||Cost (£)|
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