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27 Oct 2008 : Column 723W—continued

Paul Rowen: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what estimate she has made of the annual change in the cost to the public purse of the 2006 changes to (a) the local government pension scheme and (b) the firefighters’ pension scheme; and if she will make a statement. [229490]

John Healey: Reforms to the Local Government Pension Scheme in England and Wales took effect from 1 April 2008 based on benchmark costs provided by the Government Actuary’s Department and agreed with key stakeholders, within a total cost envelope of 19.5 per cent. of total pensionable payroll. The net assumed annual savings arising from the reforms in respect of future accrual of pension rights is estimated at some 1.3 per cent. of pensionable payroll, which was estimated to be some £30 billion for the year 2007-08.

For the firefighters’ pension schemes, reforms to their ill health pension arrangements have resulted in current savings of an estimated 2 per cent. of pensionable pay. The introduction of the New Firefighters’ Pension Scheme for all new entrants from April 2006 achieves a further 0.6 per cent. of estimated current savings, together with longer term savings from a reduction in employers’ contributions from 26.5 per cent. to 14.2 per cent. of pensionable pay.

Local Government: Public Participation

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government further to the Community Empowerment White Paper, what the minimum percentage of local residents required to sign a petition will be to require (a) a referendum on an elected mayor and (b) a full council debate to take place. [230722]

Mr. Khan: The White Paper “Communities in Control: Real People, Real Power”, stated that the Department for Communities and Local Government will consult on reducing the threshold for a petition to trigger a referendum on an elected mayor from the current 5 per cent. of voters to perhaps 2, 3 or 4 per cent. of local electors.

The Local Petitions and Calls for Action Consultation: Government Response stated that local authorities should set their own thresholds for triggering debates about petitions on local issues, but these thresholds should at most be 5 per cent. of the local population.

Local Government: Suffolk

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether county council elections will take place in (a) Suffolk and (b) Ipswich in 2009. [229718]

John Healey: The statutory framework for local elections established by the Local Government Act 1972 and the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health
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Act 2007, provides that in 2009 there will be elections to Suffolk county council and no elections to Ipswich borough council.

New Dimension Programme

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will place in the Library a copy of the report by Nera UK Ltd. on the economic benefits of the New Dimension programme. [229678]

Mr. Khan: The report will be placed in the Library of the House when completed, planned for February 2009.

Non-Domestic Rates: Public Houses

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether licensed premises which diversify under the Pub is the Hub scheme would receive a revised business rates valuation on their additional, diversified services. [229721]

John Healey: The additional services provided under the Pub is the Hub scheme may or may not result in a revised rateable value in respect the subject property. This will depend on the extent of the services provided and any modifications undertaken to the property. Each case will be considered in the light of full discussion between the Valuation Officer and the ratepayer.

Place Surveys

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether new Place Surveys will be conducted by (a) face-to-face interview or (b) correspondence. [230321]

Mr. Khan: The Place Survey will be conducted using a postal methodology.

Planning Permission

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will place in the Library a copy of her call-in policy for planning applications. [230713]

Mr. Khan: I refer the hon. Member to the statement made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Central (Mr. Caborn) on 16 June 1999, Official Report, column 138, which sets out the Government's call-in policy for planning applications.

Rates and Rating

Julia Goldsworthy: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much (a) council tax or community charge and (b) non-domestic rate revenue was written off in England in each year since 1985. [229886]

John Healey: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave her on 23 October 2008, Official Report, column 478W, about council tax write offs.

Details of the amount of non-domestic rates written off each year since 1996-97 can be found in table 2.3e of “Local Government Financial Statistics England No.13
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2002” & table 2.3j of “Local Government Financial Statistics England No.18 2008” both of which are available on the Communities and Local Government website at

The amounts written off relate to council tax or non-domestic rates payable for both the current year and for previous years.

Some authorities net off against write-offs moneys collected that had previously been written off. This can result in a negative total figure for amounts written off in a particular year.

Rates and Rating: Tax Collection

Julia Goldsworthy: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the collection rates of (a) council tax or community charge and (b) non-domestic rates were in England in each year since 1985. [229887]

John Healey: Details of the collection rates of council tax and non-domestic rates are published in both Statistical Releases and “Local Government Financial Statistics England”. Data for 2003-04 to 2007-08 are available in a Statistical Release available on the Communities and Local Government website at

Data prior to 2003-04 are available in issues of “Local Government Financial Statistics England” copies of which are available in the Library of the House. Copies of “Local Government Financial Statistics England” No. 11 2000 onwards are also available on the Communities and Local Government website at

Collection of council taxes and non-domestic rates continues once the financial year to which they relate has ended. This means that the percentage collected will eventually be higher than the figure shown.

Travelling People: Caravan Sites

Annette Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what requirements there are on individual local authorities to make provision for sites for (a) permanent and (b) transient Travellers. [230264]

Mr. Iain Wright: The Housing Act (2004) requires local housing authorities to carry out an assessment of the accommodation needs of Gypsies and Travellers residing in or resorting to their area.

Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Needs Assessments provide information about the need for long-term residential Gypsy and Traveller pitches and short-term transit pitches and temporary stopping places within the assessment area. These assessments are used by regional planning bodies to inform regional spatial strategies, which will set out the number of pitches that must be provided in each local planning authority area. Planning authorities are in turn required to allocate specific land for the required pitches in development plan documents. These pitches may be provided by the local authority, a registered social landlord, or privately.


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Local planning authorities need not await the publication of pitch numbers in regional spatial strategies to take steps to meet the accommodation needs of Gypsies and Travellers. We expect authorities where there is clear and pressing need for accommodation (both residential and transit) to take action now.

Culture, Media and Sport

Departmental Civil Service Agencies

Mr. Ancram: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many agencies were sponsored by his Department or its predecessor in (a) 2007-08 and (b) 1997-98. [228504]

Barbara Follett: The “Next Steps Report 1997” (Cm3889) provides information on all Executive agencies as at 31 December 1997. Copies are available from the Library of the House. The most up-to-date list of Executive agencies is published in the Cabinet Office publication “The List of Ministerial Responsibilities”. The latest version, incorporating recent ministerial changes, will be published shortly. Copies will be placed in the Libraries of the House.

Departmental Disciplinary Proceedings

Mr. Redwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what sanctions are available in cases of departmental staff found to have committed disciplinary offences; and how many times each has been used in each of the last three years. [230211]

Mr. Sutcliffe: In the Department for Culture, Media and Sport the following sanctions are available for staff found to have committed disciplinary offences.

One member of staff was dismissed during 2007-08 for committing a disciplinary offence. No other sanctions have been used in the last three years.

Departmental ICT

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what IT projects (a) his Department and (b) its agency is undertaking; and what the most recent estimate of (i) the cost and (ii) the completion date of each is. [229160]

Mr. Sutcliffe: The Department for Culture, Media and Sport is currently implementing an IT programme that provides electronic document and record management, electronic content management and secure collaboration. This programme is due to complete by 31 March 2009 and is estimated to cost £1.5 million.


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The Royal Parks Agency is undertaking a number of projects as part of tranche 1 of their ICT change programme. The most recent estimate and completion date of each project is as follows:

Project Completion date £

Quick Wins

Completed September 2008

11,903

Estates Licensing Upgrade

Completed August 2008

9,129

Business Systems Governance

Completed July 2008

19,398

Training/Change Management

Completion March 2009

142,492

Upgrade Sports Booking system

Deferred—July 2008

23,766

ICT Service improvement

Completion October 2008

87,785

Desktop/laptop replacement

Completed September 2008

323,793

Remote Working

Completion April 2009

137,837

LAN infrastructure upgrade

Completed September 2008

86,191

Server infrastructure upgrade

Completed September 2008

268,022

Intranet/Collaboration tool

Deferred—July 2008

1,314

Telephony

Completion April 2009

53,358

Refresh Trim EDRMS

Completed September 2008

213,992

Mobile Working

Deferred—July2008

11,799


Mr. Ancram: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how much his Department spent on upgrading its IT in each of the last three financial years. [228412]

Mr. Sutcliffe: My Department has spent the following upgrading its IT in the last three financial years:

£

2005-06

997,108

2006-07

1,825,922

2007-08

1,892,660


Institute for Contemporary Arts

Mr. Crabb: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how much public funding is being provided to the Institute for Contemporary Arts (ICA) expressed (a) in cash terms and (b) as a percentage of the overall budget of the ICA in 2008-09. [229270]

Barbara Follett: Arts Council England is the national development agency for the arts in England, and as such, is responsible for distributing public money from the Government and the National Lottery to artists and arts organisations. It makes all arts funding decisions at “arm's length” from Government, and has provided the following information on its support of the Institute for Contemporary Arts (ICA).

For the financial year 2008-09, (a) Arts Council England is providing £1,357,370 to the ICA, which (b) is reflected as 19.5 per cent. of ICA's overall income for the same year.


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