Previous Section Index Home Page

20 May 2008 : Column 259W—continued

Traveller Caravans

15. Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many Traveller caravans there were in England when the Caravan Sites Act 1968 (a) came into force and (b) was repealed; and how many there are now. [206436]

Mr. Iain Wright: A bi-annual count of Gypsy and Traveller caravans in England has been undertaken since 1979. In January 1979, 8,358 caravans were counted. Part 2 of the Caravan Sites Act 1968, which included a duty on local authorities to provide sites, was repealed in 1994. In July 1994, 12,614 caravans were counted. In July 2007, 17,134 caravans were counted.

Empty Properties

16. Albert Owen: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what progress has been made on bringing empty properties back into use since 1997. [206437]

Mr. Iain Wright: Since 1997, the number of empty homes has reduced by 10 per cent. to 672,924 dwellings or some 3.1 per cent. of the housing stock.


20 May 2008 : Column 260W

During that time we have been working closely with the independent Empty Homes Agency to encourage local authorities to tackle empty homes in their areas. We have also introduced new powers to allow local authorities to take over the management of private sector empty homes (Empty Dwelling Management Orders) where a voluntary approach is not successful.

As a further incentive, from 2008, VAT will be charged at 5 per cent. on renovation of homes empty for two years or longer.

Working Neighbourhoods Fund

17. Tom Levitt: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what progress has been made on the use of the Working Neighbourhoods Fund to tackle worklessness. [206438]

John Healey: The Working Neighbourhood Fund (WNF) was announced in December 2007 and the initial payment was made in April 2008.

We already know that all 65 WNF areas have included worklessness targets in their LAA and are developing plans to these ensure targets are met.

Women Councillors

18. Mrs. Humble: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what her response to the report of the Councillors Commission is, with particular reference to means of increasing the number of women councillors. [206439]

John Healey: The Government are concerned that only 29 per cent. of councillors are women. We established the Councillors Commission last year to consider how to get a wider range of people to become councillors. We will respond to the Councillors Commission report in the Empowerment White Paper, to be published in the summer.

Local Housing Need

19. Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what plans she has to ensure future housing projections meet local housing need. [206440]

Mr. Iain Wright: The Government set out their plan for addressing housing need in last year’s Housing Green Paper ‘Homes for the future: more affordable, more sustainable’, including setting a new target of providing 3 million additional homes by 2020. Delivery is taking place through a collaborative process between local authorities and other local and regional stakeholders, including involving local communities, as set out in national Planning Policy Statements.

Rating (Empty Properties) Act 2007

20. Mr. Mullin: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment she has made of the impact of the Rating (Empty Properties) Act 2007; and if she will make a statement. [206441]


20 May 2008 : Column 261W

John Healey: The likely effects of the reforms were set out in the impact assessment published by Communities and Local Government in May 2007 accompanying the introduction of the Rating (Empty Properties) Bill and a further assessment was laid before this House on 26 February accompanying the Non-Domestic Rating (Unoccupied Property) (England) Regulations Number 2008:386.

Inward Migration

21. Mr. Devine: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what progress has been made on the development of plans to assist local authorities and housing providers to respond to the demands imposed by inward migration. [206442]

Caroline Flint: The Government recognise that in addition to the benefits the country derives from migration, there can be some transitional impacts. CLG is working across government and with our stakeholders to identify what additional support the Government can offer communities and public service providers in England experiencing migration related impacts.

Unitary Reorganisation: East Anglia

22. 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 reorganisation. [206443]

John Healey: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 1 April 2008, Official Report, column 821W.

Eco-towns

23. Jeff Ennis: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment she has made of the potential for eco-towns to contribute to an increase in the supply of housing and affordable housing. [206444]

Caroline Flint: In “Eco-towns—Living a greener future”, we have set out the number of homes that each of the shortlisted locations are expecting to deliver. Alongside this there is an assessment of the affordability pressure. As part of the eco-town criteria, between 30 and 50 per cent. of homes should be affordable.

Shared Equity Ownership

24. Helen Southworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what her assessment is of the role of shared equity ownership in helping people to purchase their first homes. [206445]

Caroline Flint: The Government’s Low Cost Home Ownership scheme ‘HomeBuy’ which is based on equity sharing has helped over 35,000 people between 2006-08. The range of products available under the scheme have helped to make home ownership affordable to first time buyers, and enabled purchasers get a foot on the property ladder.


20 May 2008 : Column 262W

Regional Spatial Strategies

Mrs. Dorries: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the timetable is for the reviews of the regional spatial strategies by regional development agencies. [206424]

Mr. Iain Wright: Our consultation document “Prosperous Places: Taking Forward the Review of Sub-national Economic Development and Regeneration” was published on 31 March. This document invites views on how we should implement the new arrangements, including the role of local authorities. The closing date for responses is 20 June, and we intend to introduce a Bill in the next session.

Council Dwellings: Colchester

Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many council dwellings have been (a) sold and (b) built in Colchester constituency since May 1997. [206434]

Mr. Iain Wright: Since April 1997, there have been 876 sales of council dwellings and no new dwellings built by Colchester borough council. In the same period, a total of 1,130 new affordable homes have been provided mainly through registered social landlords, of which 889 were for social rent.

Demolition: Finance

Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) how much housing renewal grant funding has been allocated for demolition of properties in each of the housing renewal pathfinder areas in 2008-09; and if she will make a statement; [206828]

(2) what estimate she has made of the number of (a) demolitions and (b) repairs, improvements and refurbishments in each of the housing renewal pathfinder areas in 2008-09; and if she will make a statement. [206829]

Mr. Iain Wright: Allocations to Housing Market Renewal pathfinders are made for the totality of their programmes, and not for individual elements, on the basis of strategies set out in their business plans. It is for individual pathfinders to judge how much should be spent on particular activities, taking into account local market conditions and the outcome of local consultations.

In terms of outputs for 2008-09, pathfinders are currently considering their detailed plans in light of the specific funding allocations from the additional £1 billion of investment from this Department announced on 28 February 2008. Output targets will be agreed with the Department in due course, and set out in Funding Agreements for the year, copies of these will be placed in the Library of the House.

Departmental Consultants

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what consultancy firms her Department has commissioned work from in the last 12 months, and for what purpose. [202643]


20 May 2008 : Column 263W

Mr. Dhanda: A list of contracts awarded for consultancy during the last 12 months, which includes a brief description of the purpose, has been deposited in the Library of the House.

Contracts for under £20,000 are not recorded centrally and details could be supplied only at disproportionate cost.

Departmental Equality

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether her Department met the Civil Service diversity targets set out on page 51 of Cabinet Office Annual Report 2007 by April 2008. [204702]

Hazel Blears: The final measurement against the targets will be collated and officially published by Cabinet Office in autumn 2008.

The Department for Communities and Local Government intends to report that it exceeded all the cross-Government targets set by the 10 Point Diversity Plan. The following table shows our recorded data for the senior civil service as at 31 March 2008.

Percentage
SCS Group Cross- Government targets Result at 31 March 2008

Women in SCS

37

41.3

Women in top management posts

30

33.3

BME staff(1)

4

4.8

Staff with Disabilities(1)

3.2

4.7

(1) These results are not based on all SCS staff, but on the 77 per cent. of SCS staff who have provided information to personnel information management system (PIMS), which can be updated by staff at any time.

Departmental Film

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 21 April 2008, Official Report, column 1392W, on departmental film, what the (a) title and (b) purpose was of each film produced by the Communications Directorate. [203070]

Mr. Dhanda: The eight films produced are as follows:

1. Mental health and social exclusion

2. A film about the work of the Department

3. Strong and prosperous communities: A bigger voice


20 May 2008 : Column 264W

4. What is community empowerment?

5. One year on (Celebrating success and looking to the future)

6. Preventing extremism, strengthening communities

7. The Code for Sustainable Homes

8. Improving the energy efficiency of our homes and buildings


Next Section Index Home Page