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6 Oct 2008 : Column 317W—continued


6 Oct 2008 : Column 318W

Fire Services: Training

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what recent steps the Government has taken to improve training facilities for the Fire Service. [224290]

Mr. Khan: Within Communities and Local Government's Fire and Resilience Programme, the New Dimension project is enhancing the capability of the Fire and Rescue Service to respond to particular types of major emergencies. Through this project the Department provided over £8 million in 2005 to build a central training facility for urban search and rescue (USAR) at the Fire Service College and, in 2007, a further £2 million towards the costs of local training facilities for those fire and rescue authorities hosting USAR teams.

Since 2004 the Department has also provided capital funding of £7.5 million for upgrading the Fire Service College's facilities, including the construction of a new student accommodation block providing 100 en suite bedrooms.

First Time Buyers

Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what steps her Department is taking to assist first-time buyers with property purchases; and how many first-time buyers she estimates will receive such assistance in 2008-09. [221898]

Mr. Iain Wright: The Government’s Low Cost Home Ownership programme helps to make home ownership more affordable to first time buyers, and enables purchasers to get a foot on the property ladder through its HomeBuy scheme: New Build HomeBuy, Open Market HomeBuy and Social HomeBuy.

We have helped over 65,000 households into home ownership over the last three years.

The Government want to offer as many people as possible the opportunity to own their own home and build a stake in their community. We are committed to take action to increase confidence and help ensure stability and fairness in the housing market. We therefore announced a package of new initiatives to help more first time buyers into affordable home ownership.

As announced by the Chancellor in the 2008 Budget, on 1 April two new equity loan products were made available through the Government’s Open Market HomeBuy scheme. The loans provide first time buyers with more flexibility in the percentage of the value of their home that can be borrowed—to a maximum of 50 per cent., and more choice in the mortgage they can take out.

In addition we have expanded the eligibility criteria for our HomeBuy products so that all first time buyers
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with a household income under £60,000 who could otherwise not afford to buy, will be eligible for our New Build HomeBuy and Open Market HomeBuy products. Up to £100 million is being focussed on expanding Open Market HomeBuy to help 2,500 first time buyers to purchase a new build home from developers in 2008-09.

In order to help households who, because of current market conditions may now be unable to access home ownership through the HomeBuy scheme, we announced a pilot “Rent to HomeBuy” scheme to support first time buyers into affordable home ownership by renting first and buying later.

Finally, in September, as part of a wider housing package, we announced the creation of a new product “HomeBuy Direct” in partnership with house builders. HomeBuy Direct is designed to help up to 10,000 first time buyers into affordable home ownership in new homes over the next two years, offering equity loans of up to 30 per cent., which will be co-funded by developers.

Overall, despite market uncertainty, the Government’s aspiration is to support up to 25,000 households into home ownership in 2008-09.

First Time Buyers: Cumbria

Mr. Jamie Reed: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what estimate her Department has made of the number of first-time buyers who purchased a home in (a) Cumbria and (b) Copeland in the last five years. [223937]

Mr. Iain Wright: Data on UK total number of first time buyers (FTBs) using a mortgage are available from the Regulated Mortgage Survey which is supplied to Communities and Local Government by the Council of Mortgage Lenders. However, as the survey is a sample, data on the number of FTBs are unavailable for Cumbria and Copeland specifically.

Flats

Mrs. Lait: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what percentage of newly-built dwellings were flats in each year since 1996-97. [222674]

Mr. Iain Wright: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 21 July 2008, Official Report, column 770W.

Greenbelt: Databases

Mrs. Lait: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the Answer to the hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar of 1 July 2008, Official Report, columns 790-91W, on green belt: databases, for what reasons the Maps on Tap database was discontinued; and what the total cost of the project was. [222641]

Mr. Iain Wright: Maps on Tap provided an online interactive mapping portal for central Government. It was discontinued to enable a re-focusing of the services developed by the project to support this Department’s requirements.


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The total cost of the Maps on Tap project was £4.83 million. This was made up of £3.03 million development costs (as reported to the hon. Member for Surrey Heath (Michael Gove) on 25 April 2007, Official Report, column 1189W) and £1.80 million running costs.

Greenbelt: Guildford

Anne Milton: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government with reference to her statement of 11 July 2007, Official Report, columns 1449-51, on protecting the Green Belt, if she will make it her policy to ensure that the approved South East Plan should not propose or facilitate the weakening of Green Belt protection in north east Guildford. [224514]

Mr. Khan: We have made it clear in national policy statements and in the Housing Green Paper that Government remains committed to the principles of the Green Belt.

Following a recommendation by the independent Panel which examined the draft South East Plan, the Government’s ‘Proposed Changes’ to the draft include a possible selective review of the Green Belt at Guildford. They also state that where Green Belt land is lost reviews should consider the designation of additional Green Belt land. These Proposed Changes are currently out for public consultation, and we are seeking views on the proposals until 24 October. Because of this formal round of public consultation and the need to make sure that we consider the views of all interested parties, I am not in a position to comment on the contents of the final version of the South East Plan at this stage.

Hazardous Substances: Planning Permission

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what plans she has to amend land use planning rules around major hazard sites following the recommendations of the Buncefield accident review. [222923]

Mr. Iain Wright: We will consider carefully the recommendations in the report of the Buncefield Major Incident Investigation Board (MIIB) about land use planning as it applies to major hazard sites. We will respond in due course.

Hazardous Substances: Waste Management

Joan Ryan: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what national guidance she issues on the location of hazardous waste management facilities. [222720]

Mr. Iain Wright: The Government's national planning policy for waste management is provided in Planning Policy Statement 10: Planning for Sustainable Waste Management. It sets out that positive planning has an important role to play in delivering sustainable waste management by providing sufficient opportunities for new waste management facilities of the right type, in the right place and at the right time, including for hazardous waste. Accompanying guidance to support the implementation of PPS10 is provided in 'Planning for Sustainable Waste Management: Companion Guide to Planning Policy Statement 10'.


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In addition, Annex C9 to the Government's 'Waste Strategy 2007 for England' published in May 2007 sets out an assessment of capacity need for hazardous waste to guide regional planning bodies and business in the planning and procurement of new hazardous waste infrastructure.

Heathrow Airport: Planning Permission

Justine Greening: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what approval for the introduction of mixed mode at Heathrow airport would be required from (a) the Infrastructure Planning Commission and (b) Hillingdon Borough Council. [224472]

John Healey: Depending on final policy decisions on the future development of Heathrow Airport, the introduction of mixed mode, should the airport operator decide to take forward proposals, would, under present legislation:

If a proposal for the introduction of mixed mode was to come forward after enactment and implementation of the Planning Bill, then under the provisions of that Bill it would:

Home Information Packs

Mrs. Lait: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Welwyn Hatfield of 30 June 2008, Official Report, columns 626-27W, on home information packs, what the timetable is for her Department to consider whether home condition reports should be mandatory. [222847]

Mr. Iain Wright: Members of our Stakeholder Panel on Home Buying and Selling are currently considering proposals for encouraging take-up of property condition information within home information packs. The panel will submit its proposals for our consideration in the autumn.


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Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what penalties may be imposed upon a householder not completing, in whole or in part, information on a Property Information Questionnaire on a home information pack and then marketing a property. [224501]

Mr. Iain Wright: The Home Information Pack Regulations provide that the person responsible for marketing the property must ensure that a valid pack is provided to potential buyers. This would include ensuring a completed PIQ has been included in the HIP. In the vast majority of cases the responsible person will be the seller’s estate agent.

The local weights and measures authority has the power to issue a penalty charge notice of £200 on the responsible person for a breach of the HIP duties.

Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will use her powers under section 162 of the Housing Act 2004 to suspend the requirement to produce a home information pack to market a property. [224502]

Mr. Iain Wright: We have no plans to suspend Home Information Packs.

Homelessness

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) what categories of (a) men and (b) women are entitled to receive housing under statutory homelessness regulations; and if she will make a statement; [221771]

(2) what guidance she gives to local authorities on the definition of vulnerability when considering young men for local authority housing under statutory homelessness regulations; and if she will make a statement. [221772]

Mr. Iain Wright: Under the homelessness legislation (Part 7 of the Housing Act 1996), local housing authorities must secure accommodation for applicants who are eligible for assistance, unintentionally homeless and fall within a priority need group. Some categories of persons from abroad are ineligible for homelessness assistance (other than the provision of advice and information about homelessness and the prevention of homelessness).

The Secretary of State has issued the “Homelessness Code of Guidance for local authorities” which includes statutory guidance on, among other things, eligibility and priority need. Copies of the code are available in the Library of the House; the code can also be viewed on the Department for Communities and Local Government website:

Chapter 9 provides guidance on eligibility; a person's gender is not relevant to whether or not they will be eligible for assistance. Chapter 10 provides guidance on priority need, including the test of vulnerability (equally applicable to both sexes) and the full list of priority need categories. Apart from pregnant women these categories are not gender specific.


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Homelessness: Castle Point

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) how many private sector homes for homeless people were used in each of the last five years by Castle Point Borough Council (a) within the borough and (b) outside the borough; [221773]

(2) how many registered homeless people originating from outside Castle Point are housed within the borough. [221858]

Mr. Iain Wright: Information about English local authorities’ actions under the homelessness legislation is collected quarterly at local authority level.

Information collected includes the number of households accepted by local housing authorities as eligible for assistance, unintentionally homeless and in priority need, and therefore owed a main homelessness duty (to secure that suitable accommodation is available). If a settled home is not immediately available, the authority must secure temporary accommodation until a settled home becomes available.

Data are collected on the number of households being housed in temporary accommodation as at the end of each quarter. The figures include: those households who have been accepted as owed the main homelessness duty; those for which inquiries are pending; those being accommodated for a limited period because they have been found intentionally homeless and in priority need; those being accommodated pending possible referral to another authority, and those being accommodated pending the outcome of a local authority review or county court appeal.

The total number of households in temporary accommodation arranged by a local authority includes households housed both within and outside their own borough. The table shows data reported by Castle Point, for 2003-04 to 2007-08 (as at the last day of March each year).

Table 1: Households in temporary accommodation arranged by Castle Point (as at end March)—within borough and outside borough

Total temporary accommodation arranged by Castle Point of which within borough of which outside borough

2003-04

(1)

(1)

(1)

2004-05

183

(1)

(1)

2005-06

(1)

(1)

(1)

2006-07

154

(1)

(1)

2007-08

119

114

5

(1 )Data not reported
Source:
Quarterly P1E return

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