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28 Oct 2008 : Column 959W—continued

Housing: Repairs and Maintenance

Sarah Teather: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the average length of time taken to complete urgent housing repairs by each local authority was in each of the last five years. [229281]

Mr. Iain Wright: The Department does not hold data to address the question. The nearest equivalent ‘Percentage of urgent repairs completed within Government time limits’ is collected by the Department through the annual Local Authority Business Plan Statistical Appendix returns. A table with information for the last five years (2002-03 to 2006-07) has been placed in the Library of the House.

Since 2001, many local authorities have chosen to transfer their entire social stock to registered social landlords through the option of large scale voluntary transfer (LSVT). The table reflects the increasing occurrence of these changes over the five year period as data are only collected from authorities which own their own stock or have set up an arm’s length management organisation to manage the stock.

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Housing: Statistics

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will make a statement on the withdrawal of housing data in July 2008 due to inconsistencies; and what data were affected. [230311]

Mr. Timms: I have been asked to reply.

I refer the hon. Gentleman to the Explanatory note published on HMRC’s website at:

Housing: Students

Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether new additional student accommodation in university towns counts towards the building targets in regional spatial strategies. [230656]

Mr. Iain Wright: Communal establishments are not counted in overall housing supply (hence do not count towards the building targets in regional spatial strategies) i.e. establishments providing managed residential accommodation. These cover university and college student accommodation (including self-contained flats clustered into units with four to six bedrooms), hospital staff accommodation, hostels/homes, hotels/holiday complexes, defence establishments (not married quarters) and prisons.

Housing: Sustainable Development

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the differences are between a sustainability certificate and an energy performance certificate. [230523]

Mr. Iain Wright: An energy performance certificate records how energy efficient a property is as a building and provides A-G ratings. These are similar to the labels now provided with domestic appliances such as refrigerators and washing machines.

They are produced using standard methods and assumptions about energy usage so that the energy efficiency of one building can easily be compared with another building of the same type.

An energy performance certificate is always accompanied by a recommendation report that lists cost effective and other measures (such as low and zero carbon generating systems) to improve the energy rating. A rating is also given showing what could be achieved if all the recommendations were implemented.

More information about energy performance certificates can be found at:

A sustainability certificate (either an interim or final sustainability certificate) is a certificate issued in accordance with the Code for Sustainable Homes (the code) and records the sustainability of a newly constructed home in nine categories. These include water efficiency, waste, surface water run-off, materials, ecology, pollution, health and well-being and management.

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When a newly constructed home is marketed for sale the home information pack must include an energy performance certificate and an interim or final sustainability certificate showing the code rating (from one star to six stars) or a “nil rated” certificate, as set out in the Home Information Pack (Amendment) Regulations 2008 (No. 572). A nil-rated certificate states that the home has been designed to meet building regulations and can be downloaded free of charge from the Communities and Local Government's website.

More information about the Code for Sustainable Homes can be found at

Infrastructure Planning Commission

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government when the Infrastructure Planning Commission is expected to be operational. [229670]

John Healey: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Putney (Justine Greening) on 13 May 2008, Official Report, column 1444W.

Intelligent Addressing

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 20 May 2008, Official Report, column 263W, on departmental consultants, for what purpose her Department has hired Intelligent Addressing Ltd to provide National Land and Property Gazetteer address matching. [229619]

Mr. Khan: Intelligent Addressing Ltd. has been hired to integrate the technology systems for FiReControl with data from the National Land and Property Gazetteer (NLPG).

The FiReControl project will deliver a national network of regional control centres for fire and rescue services in England. The centres will provide emergency call handling, mobilisation and incident support services. A key component of the control centres will be a mobilising gazetteer—a list of locations which may be used in the identification of the location of an incident. The Department has made a strategic decision to use the NLPG as the core of the mobilising gazetteer for the regional control centres.

Local Authorities: Finance

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what powers local authorities have with regard to non-ringfenced grants made according to comprehensive performance assessments; and whether such powers will change under the system of comprehensive area assessments. [229714]

John Healey: Under the comprehensive performance assessment, (CPA) local authorities who were categorised as three or four star authorities received all specific revenue grants on a non-ringfenced basis, other than the Supporting People Grant and those grants passported to schools.

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With the introduction of the new local performance framework, of which comprehensive area assessment (CAA) is part, the Government have provided local authorities with greater flexibility in the way they use Government grant more generally. We have increased significantly the amount of funding for all authorities which is not ring-fenced. This year, we introduced the Area Based Grant—a non-ring fenced grant which is planned to be worth £4.7 billion by 2010-11. It is made up of over forty individual grant streams from seven Government Departments. As a non-ring fenced grant, local authorities are free to use it as they see fit to support priorities. There are no links with either the CPA or CAA.

When CPA is replaced by CAA in April 2009, there will be no overall categorisation of local authorities. The future of freedoms and flexibilities under CAA, including ring-fencing, is currently under consideration. An announcement on its future will be made before CAA comes into operation in 2009.

Local Government Finance

Julia Goldsworthy: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what grants from her Department are available to local authorities in 2008-09. [229885]

Mr. Khan [holding answer 27 October 2008]: Grants that are available this year to local authorities by Communities and Local Government are listed as follows.

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In addition to these, there is a formula grant which comprises Revenue Support Grant, redistributed business rates and principal formula Police Grant, where appropriate.

From time to time my Department also pays grant under section 31 of the Local Government Act 2003 to the fire authorities in England to meet agreed costs in respect of the New Dimension project and other Fire and Resilience expenditure.

Local Government: Standards

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what inspections of local government take place under (a) the Charter Mark programme, (b) auspices of the Audit Commission and (c) both. [230340]

John Healey: The Cabinet Office is responsible for the policy on charter mark which has been replaced by a new standard—Customer Service Excellence. Under this new scheme, organisations are helped to develop a customer focused service.

Audit Commission inspections cover service provision such as housing, environment, benefits and cultural services as well as cross cutting issues such as regeneration and community safety.

There are no joint inspections.

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the estimated annual effect on costs to the public purse is across (a) central Government, (b) the Audit Commission and (c) local authorities arising from the shift from comprehensive performance assessment to comprehensive area assessment. [230345]

John Healey: Government have committed to reducing the cost of public service inspection by one-third by 2008-09 compared to 2003-04. Government commissioned the Audit Commission and six other inspectorates who have responsibility relating to inspecting services provided by local authorities and their partners to develop a methodology for the comprehensive area assessment, to be introduced in April 2009. The inspectorates were charged with ensuring the proposals for CAA were consistent with the commitment to reduce costs by one-third, and to explore the potential for further reductions beyond this.

Modelling Transitional Rate Relief Options

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will place in the Library a copy of the research report, LGR 65/12/122, on Modelling Transitional Rate Relief Options. [229683]

John Healey: The results of the research report “Modelling Options for Transitional Arrangements” were published in December 2004 and are available on the Department’s website.

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National Land Use Database

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what plans she has to respond to the recommendations in the National Land Use Database scoping study commissioned by her Department. [230330]

Mr. Iain Wright: The Government will consider the recommendations contained in the study and will respond in due course.

Non-domestic Rates: Small Businesses

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the deadlines for small firms to submit applications to claim small business rate relief for the (a) 2006-07, (b) 2007-08 and (c) 2008-09 financial years are. [230293]

John Healey: The deadline to apply for small business rate relief in respect of financial year 2006-07 ended on 30 September 2007. The deadline for applying in respect of financial years 2007-08 and 2008-09 is 30 September 2010.

Ordnance Survey

Adam Afriyie: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what arrangements are in place for the payment of bonuses to officials of Ordnance Survey; and if she will make a statement. [229485]

Mr. Iain Wright: Ordnance Survey operates a performance-related pay system for staff, informed by the 3-Year Corporate Business Plan which is agreed by Ministers, and within a pay remit agreed by Ministers and by HM Treasury. An overall bonus structure is agreed by the Ordnance Survey Remuneration Committee comprising non-executive directors. Subject to annual performance review, staff receive individual pay progression, and may receive an annual agency performance bonus, with the agreement of the Remuneration Committee, if all of Ordnance Survey's Agency Performance Monitors, set by Ministers, are met.

The remuneration of Ordnance Survey directors is subject to performance targets aligned to the Corporate Plan. These targets determine base pay levels and potential for bonuses, and are set by the director general and chief executive for executive directors, and by the Remuneration Committee for the director general and chief executive. Directors' performances and eligibility for bonuses are reviewed annually, and recommendations are subject to approval by the Ordnance Survey Remuneration Committee, within the guidelines set by Cabinet Office.

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