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4 Jun 2008 : Column 981W—continued


Carbon Emissions

Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what consultations (a) have taken place and (b) are planned by her Department on the definition of zero carbon. [207556]

Caroline Flint: The consultation paper “Building a Greener Future: Towards Zero Carbon Development”

was issued in December 2006. It sought views on the Government’s proposals to reduce the carbon footprint of new housing development and on a proposed target that all new homes should be zero carbon from 2016. The results of this consultation fed into the “Building a Greener Future: Policy Statement” issued in July 2007 which set out the current definition of zero carbon homes

In the 2008 Budget the Government announced that the 2016 definition of a zero carbon home would be set by the end of 2008, following a forthcoming consultation
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in the summer. In addition, the Budget also announced the Government’s ambition for new non-domestic buildings to be zero carbon from 2019. We intend to consult on this later this year.

Community Relations: Extremism

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what steps her Department is taking to tackle extremism in local communities. [209042]

Mr. Dhanda: Communities and Local Government is responsible for promoting cohesion in local communities, including tackling extremism of all kinds. The Department is also responsible for the communities-based element of the cross-Government strategy to prevent violent extremism, part of the wider Counter-terrorism strategy, as set out in the Delivery Plan launched on 3 June 2008.

Council Housing

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government which local authorities have chosen as their preferred option for housing stock (a) retention, (b) transfer, (c) an arm's length management organisation, (d) a private finance initiative and (e) a mix of these options. [203538]

Mr. Iain Wright: The information requested has been deposited in the Library of the House.

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many council houses there are in each local authority area; and what estimate she has made of (a) the cost of transferring these houses to registered social landlords and (b) the cost of gap funding for such transfers. [204839]

Mr. Iain Wright: A table listing the number of council homes in each local authority that currently has council housing, as at 1 April 2007, including homes owned by arms length management organisations (ALMOs) has been placed in the Library of the House.

No estimates have been made of the possible costs of transferring these homes to registered social landlords.

Council Housing: Finance

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government with reference to the Answer of 19th April 2004, Official Report, columns 354-5W, on management and maintenance allowance, by (a) how many percentage points and (b) how much the average 2001-02 management and maintenance allowance would have had to increase by 2008-09 to reach the level of the need to spend on management and maintenance indicated by the findings in Estimate of the Need to Spend on Maintenance and Management in Local Authority Housing, published in June 2003. [203479]

Mr. Iain Wright: We have not carried out an uprating of the BRE analysis and therefore currently have no comparable evidence of the size of the present gap. The
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Review of Council Housing Finance, launched on 10 March, is looking at what it currently costs to run council housing.

Council Tax: Armed Forces

Mr. Graham Stuart: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) what assessment she has made of the merits of establishing a statutory council tax discount for service personnel; and if she will make a statement; [207545]

(2) whether she plans to establish a statutory council tax discount for service personnel; and if she will make a statement. [207546]

John Healey: From 1 April 2008, all service personnel deployed overseas on specified operations have been entitled to payment under the MOD’s Council Tax Relief Scheme, which is worth £142 over a six-month tour. There are no plans to establish a statutory discount.

Eco Towns

Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what role (a) the restructured regional development agencies and (b) the Homes and Communities Agency will play in the planning process for the (i) first and (ii) second wave of eco-town developments. [207559]

Caroline Flint: Some eco-town proposals relate to locations which are already the subject of consideration in a current regional spatial strategy (RSS) process, and we expect the RSS reviews announced in the Housing Green Paper (which depending on the region will be prepared between now and 2011) to test the longer term issues that arise from the eco-town proposals-such as the ultimate size of new settlements. Regional development agencies will be responsible for the future preparation of RSS reviews.

We expect that the Homes and Communities Agency will be able to take a leadership role in helping to deliver some of the eco-towns, with public and private partners, as English Partnerships is doing at Northstowe, an early prototype eco-town in Cambridgeshire. When the Homes and Communities Agency is established we would expect it to play a major role in supporting local authorities, and work with bidders to review and refine detailed proposals as they are developed.

There are no current proposals to hold another round of the eco-towns process.

Eco-Towns

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) pursuant to the Answer of 1 May 2008, Official Report, columns 663W, on eco-towns, in which of the shortlisted sites her Department has sold or otherwise disposed of land in the last 10 years under arrangements whereby her Department would benefit from a future sale of the land; [207156]

(2) what estimate she has made of the sale price (a) before and (b) after shortlisting of (i) the site owned by English Partnerships and (ii) sites sold by her Department and its predecessors in the last 10 years. [207173]


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Caroline Flint: On information currently available, none of the 13 eco-town locations, which have been shortlisted for public consultation and further assessment are on land previously occupied or sold by my Department and its predecessors and English Partnerships in the last 10 years.

In respect of the Stretton Hall site owned by English Partnerships, which I referred to in my answer to the hon. Member on 1 May. The land is not currently allocated for development in regional or local plans, but English Partnerships has begun working with the regional body and the local authority to help revise their planning documents. This will of course take some time and values could change significantly from its current use to a site, which is potentially part of a wider area master plan, with planning consent, plus all the necessary planned infrastructure, employment space and social facilities.

Eco-Towns: Planning Permission

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government when the developers for the 15 shortlisted eco-town locations will be required to provide (a) a concept statement and (b) an environmental impact statement. [208154]

Caroline Flint: The promoters of eco-town locations are currently providing more detailed specification of their proposals as part of the further assessment that Government are carrying out of financial, transport and sustainability aspects of the proposals. This will include all the main features of each scheme. In addition, like any proposed development, eco-towns will need to be the subject of a planning application. Each application must be decided on its merits and the local planning authority will need to take into account all the impacts of the proposals. In order for this to happen developers will need to provide full details of their Environment Statement, and address issues such as design, the impact of the proposed development on the landscape and neighbourhood, the transport system, public services, infrastructure and benefits to the community.

Food

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much food waste her Department generated in each of the last five years; and if she will make a statement. [208134]

Mr. Dhanda: Communities and Local Government generated the following amount of food waste during the last two years:

Tonnes

2006-07

21.6

2007-08

19.1


Since 2006, the Department has sent all of its separated food waste to a composting facility rather than to landfill.

No data are held prior to 2006-07 and nor are any data available for the Department's executive agencies.


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Home Information Packs

Lembit Öpik: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what mechanisms are in place to ensure that (a) the contents of home information packs are accurate and (b) the providers of home information packs have satisfactory arrangements for dealing with complaints and redress. [207390]

Caroline Flint: Documents contained within home information packs (HIPs) should comply with the standards set out in regulations. The “HIP Code” also sets out minimum standards which pack providers have to meet—most pack providers subscribe to this code. The code is administered by the Property Codes Compliance Board, an independent regulator whose role is to ensure that private organisations providing property search reports and home information packs are compliant. Most pack provider companies subscribe to the HIP code and estate agents and conveyancers involved in pack provision are subject to additional compulsory redress arrangements.

Lembit Öpik: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether, following the expiration of the current transitional arrangements, homes will not be able to be marketed for sale without a full home information pack. [207391]

Caroline Flint: We remain committed to ensuring that consumers see and can use key information early in the process of buying and selling a home. The extension of temporary provisions for first day marketing and leasehold marketing I announced to the House on 8 May bring all temporary provisions within the same time scale which should allow us to finalise the implementation of home information packs from 31 December 2008.

Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government with reference to pages 26 to 27 of her Department's Annual Report for 2008, what methodology was used to determine the proportion of consumers who do not see home information packs; and what analysis her Department has undertaken to establish why more consumers do not see home information packs. [208083]

Caroline Flint: The proportion of consumers who did not see their home information pack (HIP), and the reasons behind this, were based on a survey of buyers and sellers who took part in our area trials prior to the national launch of HIPs. The report also explained the main reasons why more consumers did not see the HIP. Further details can be found from the research report at:

Housing

Lembit Öpik: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government which recommendations of the 2005 Office of Fair Trading market study report on local searches have been implemented; which recommendations have yet to be implemented; and what the timetable is for implementation. [207389]


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Caroline Flint: The only outstanding Office of Fair Trading (OFT) recommendations are those relating to the ‘availability of unrefined information’. To address these, the Department published good practice access guidance and a consultation paper on future local authority charges for property searches on 18 January 2008. The consultation has now closed and we are analysing the responses and considering the next steps. Together these two initiatives will complete implementation of the OFT’s recommendations.

Lembit Öpik: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what proportion of local authorities did not provide access to records required to complete a local search report in the latest period for which figures are available; and what effect this is having on competition and choice in the local searches market. [207399]

Caroline Flint: Formal data is not held by the Department. However, a recent stakeholder survey of local authorities (LAs) indicated that on 1 April 2008, just over 50 per cent. were providing open access to personal searchers to all the records required to complete a local search report. The rest provide access to the majority of the necessary records.

Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government which local authorities have directly participated in the (a) Social HomeBuy, (b) New Build HomeBuy and (c) Open Market HomeBuy schemes. [207554]

Caroline Flint: Social HomeBuy is a voluntary scheme which provides new opportunities for social tenants who do not have a right to buy or right to acquire or who cannot afford to purchase outright to buy a share of their rented home at a discount.

To-date 10 local authorities have participated in the pilot scheme. These are:

No local authorities have directly participated in the new build and open market homebuy schemes, which are usually provided by registered social landlords.

Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what estimate she has made of the expected change in (a) numbers of new houses built and (b) house prices in the next 12 months. [208098]

Caroline Flint: The Government do not publish forecasts for house prices or house-building. However many external commentators are now expecting house prices to fall in 2008 by 5 to 10 per cent. Housing starts in 2007-08 were 10 per cent. lower than in 2006-07 and this is likely to be reflected in lower levels of housing completions during 2008-09.

Housing: Energy

Lembit Öpik: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what steps are being taken to assist home owners to carry out energy efficiency improvements recommended in energy performance certificates. [207396]


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Caroline Flint: The Government have put in place a number of programmes to assist home owners to carry out energy efficiency improvements recommended in their energy performance certificates, or which they have identified for themselves. For example, in April, the Government launched the carbon emissions reduction target, under which the energy companies collectively will be investing around £1 billion per annum for the next three years on energy efficiency measures. A new Act on CO2 helpline, run by the Energy Saving Trust was also launched in April, with the support of £26 million Government funding. This will provide home owners with advice on energy efficiency improvements they can make. To facilitate this, the Government will shortly be consulting on giving the Energy Saving Trust access to data from energy performance certificates, so that the Trust can identify the least energy efficient homes and target them with offers of help.


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