Previous Section Index Home Page

9 Jun 2008 : Column 26W—continued

Social Security Benefits

Jim Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what range of earnings disregards apply to each category of customer for each income-related benefit. [206690]

Mr. Plaskitt: There is a range of earnings disregards across the income-related benefits. The following weekly amounts of earnings are disregarded in the circumstances shown in income support, income-based jobseeker's allowance, pension credit, housing benefit and council tax benefit:


Single people who do not satisfy the vulnerable or specialist group criteria


Couples who do not satisfy the vulnerable or specialist group criteria


Vulnerable groups(1)


Specialist groups(2)


Lone parents in housing benefit and council tax benefit


Certain people on housing benefit and council tax benefit in remunerative work(3)


(1) Vulnerable groups are defined as lone parents, disabled or carers. Additionally people aged 60 or over in income support and income-based jobseeker's allowance; and people in receipt of the higher pensioner premium or pensioner premium for those aged 75 or over in housing benefit and council tax benefit. This £20 disregard may be carried over to a subsequent pension credit claim provided the necessary conditions are met. (2) Specialist groups are defined as part-time firefighters, members of the territorial or reserve force, lifeboat crew and some coastguards. (3) Applies if the claimant or their partner is aged 25 or over and engaged in remunerative work averaging not less than 30 hours per week; or the claimant has responsibility for a child or a qualifying young person (and as a result is entitled to the family premium) and the claimant or their partner is engaged in remunerative work for 16 or more hours per week; or the claimant or their partner qualifies for the disability premium or the higher pensioner premium and that same person is engaged in remunerative work for 16 or more hours per week; or the claimant or their partner receives the 30 hour element within working tax credit; or the claimant or their partner receives the 50-plus element within working tax credit, or would receive it if they were to apply for working tax credit.

In carer's allowance, carers can undertake some work if they are able to do so. A carer may have earnings of
9 Jun 2008 : Column 27W
up to £95 a week and retain entitlement to carer's allowance. This amount is calculated net of expenses such as income tax, national insurance contributions, half of any contribution towards an occupational or personal pension and help towards the cost of care for a child or the disabled person while the carer is at work.

Communities and Local Government

Council Housing

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many homes were owned by each local authority in each year since 1997; what each authority's (a) rental income, (b) capital receipts, (c) management and maintenance allowance and (d) major repairs allowance was in each of those years; and if she will provide projections for each of those figures for the next 30 years using the assumptions adopted by her Department's self-financing of council housing services modelling exercise. [203539]

Mr. Iain Wright: Tables showing the available data for each local authority currently holding housing stock for (a), (c) and (d) for the years 1997-98 onwards have been placed in the Library of the House. Consistent data for (b) are not available by individual local authority for the period requested and could be produced only at disproportionate cost.

Communities and Local Government does not have figures for the categories requested projected over the next 30 years for each local authority. The evidence for the self-financing modelling exercise, including for capital receipts, was produced by the six local authorities involved. We would need to go out to all local authorities to ask them to provide similar projections, which would incur disproportionate cost.

Council Tax: Valuation

Julia Goldsworthy: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 2 June 2008, Official Report, column 534W, on council tax valuation, how many homes revalued for council tax in each region in the UK in each year since 1997 resulted in (a) revaluation to (i) a higher band and (ii) a lower band and (b) staying in the same band. [209693]

John Healey: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave her on 25 April 2008, Official Report, column 2305W.

Fairtrade Initiative

Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 18 February 2008, Official Report, column 17W, on the Fairtrade initiative, (1) what Fairtrade products are available for purchase at her Department’s staff catering facilities and (b) offered at official departmental meetings and engagements; [209011]

(2) what the value was of Fairtrade products purchased at her Department's staff catering facilities in each of the last three financial years; and what proportion of total revenue this represented. [209012]

9 Jun 2008 : Column 28W

Mr. Dhanda: Fairtrade teas, sugars and a selection of cookies, chocolate bars and flapjacks are available from CLG’s HQ staff catering facilities. In addition Fairtrade teas are available from vending machines.

In relation to refreshments for official meetings, Fairtrade teas, coffee and sugars are available.

Sales of Fairtrade products are not separately identified from non-Fairtrade products and therefore the value of Fairtrade sales is not available.

Green Belt

Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar of 12 May 2008, Official Report, column 1393W, on the green belt, if she will list each of the specific special circumstances in which development is permitted on green belt designated land, according to planning guidance and regulations. [207519]

Mr. Iain Wright: Planning Policy Guidance Note 2, “Green Belts”, requires decision-makers to satisfy themselves that any harm from inappropriate development proposed in green belt would be clearly outweighed by the benefits. Once that is shown, an additional test is applied, to which the hon. Member refers. Guidance requires the decision-maker in a case to judge whether the planning applicant has successfully argued that “very special circumstances” would justify an exceptional grant of planning permission in green belt.

The courts have directed that the words “very special circumstances” be given their ordinary and natural meaning, and it is for each applicant to demonstrate their existence to the local planning authority in relation to the individual circumstances of their case. As an example, the courts have held that the personal circumstances of the applicant or their family such as the educational needs of children may contribute to “very special circumstances”. However, given that each case must be judged on its merits, it follows that there could never be a definitive list of what might qualify.

Housing: Birmingham

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much was made available to Birmingham City Council for expenditure on housing stock in (a) 1979, (b) 1981, (c) 1989, (d) 1991, (e) 1997, (f) 1999, (g) 2001, (h) 2005 and (i) 2007, expressed in current prices and broken down by category; and what allocation has been made for 2008. [205447]

Mr. Iain Wright: Data prior to 1991 are not available and specific data for the years 1991-96 inclusive could be made available only at disproportionate cost.

The following table shows management and maintenance allowances per council dwelling for each year (prior to 1999-2000 the allowances were calculated as a single amount), and the major repairs allowance (MRA) from its introduction in 2001-02, multiplied by the council's housing stock for the relevant period. These allowances are made as part of the Housing Revenue Account Subsidy programme.

9 Jun 2008 : Column 29W

9 Jun 2008 : Column 30W
Management (a) Maintenance (b) Management and maintenance (a+b) Major repairs allowance (d) Assumed stock (e) Total allowances (c+d) x (e) Borrowing approval for capital investment in housing( 1)














































(1 )This is the amount of borrowing the Government would provide support for. Up until and including 2001-02 this figure is the part of the BCA (Basic Credit Approvals) supported through the HRA subsidy system. From 2005-06 onwards the figure is that part of SCE(R) (Supported Capital Expenditure (Revenue)) supported within the HRA Subsidy System.

The table also includes figures for housing-related allocations for capital investment. This gives the council approval to borrow up to the sum specified.

All prices are shown calculated to 2006-07 cash equivalents using the latest available GDP deflator provided by HM Treasury. The figures for 2007-2008 and later are based upon forecasts of the GDP deflator.

Housing: Construction

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what recent guidance her Department has issued to local authorities in London on designating land for the building of new homes. [208851]

Mr. Iain Wright: National planning policy for housing is set out in Planning Policy Statement 3 (PPS3) Housing, published November 2006, which includes a section entitled “Delivering a flexible supply of land for housing” (paragraphs 52 to 61). Supporting guidance, Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment: Practice Guidance, published in July 2007, sets out how to put in place evidence on land availability for housing.

Planning Policy Statement 12: Local Spatial Planning (PPS12), published June 2008, sets out how local planning authorities should prepare local development documents. In relation to housing, this includes ensuring that the necessary land is available at the right time and in the right place to deliver new housing.

Housing: Low Incomes

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what estimate she has made of the capital value of (a) housing association and (b) council housing stock in each year since 1997. [203537]

Mr. Iain Wright: It is not possible for the Department to provide comparable figures on stock asset values for both local authorities and housing associations from published accounts. The following figures are displayed separately as a result.

The Department collects figures on the capital assets of local authority (LA) housing stock in England through the Capital Outturn Return (COR). These are published in the Local Government Financial Statistics volume:

Table 1: Value of local authority fixed assets, all council dwellings
£ million


















Notes: 1. LA stock valued at Existing Use Value—Social Housing (EUV-SH), a statutory requirement as at 1 April 2000. 2. Figures as at 31 March each year. 3. 1998 laid down in the Library of the House of Commons. Not available on the web. Source: Communities and Local Government, Local Government Financial Statistics.

All figures supplied in table 1 are at current value for the year of reporting.

The Global Accounts of Housing Associations, published by the Housing Corporation (the regulator of housing associations in England) provides figures for registered social landlords:

Table 2: Value of housing association fixed assets
£ million
2005 2006 2007

Housing properties at original cost(1)




Housing properties at current value(2)




(1) The original cost of houses when they were built/purchased. (2) A minority of properties re-valued each year on EUV-SH basis. Notes: 1. Cost and valuation figures are separate measurements based on different parts of the whole stock—they cannot be added together to obtain a picture of the whole stock. 2. 2007 global accounts differ from predecessors as returns are based on associations >1,000 homes. Between 2004 and 2006 associations with >250 homes were included for reporting purposes. The 2005 and 2006 figures above are based on associations with >1,000 dwellings to allow for comparison. Source: Housing Corporation—Global Accounts of Housing Associations.

‘Housing properties at original cost' will include many homes where the cost recorded is considerably out of date. These figures will therefore be depressed and represent properties that are now significantly undervalued.

Next Section Index Home Page