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Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what guidance has been produced on vetting the eligibility of (a) second home, (b) empty home and (c) single person council tax discounts. 
John Healey: Communities and Local Governments predecessor Department the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister jointly published with the Government Operational Research Service a Council Tax Collection Good Practice Report in 2004. The report can be accessed via Communities and Local Government website at
The report looks at ways of sharing good practice among practitioners, in order to promote continuous improvement in service delivery and collection. Section 9.5 of annex D to the report covers how best local authorities can tackle fraudulent claims for council tax discounts, including single person discounts and vacant properties.
Mr. Iain Wright: The Governments policies on increasing housing supply are intended to address the problems of housing affordability for all age groups. The Housing Green Paper published in July 2007 Homes for the future: more affordable, more sustainable (CM 7191) set out to address affordability issues and the need for more homes over the longer term.
Through the Housing Corporations Affordable Housing Programme we are investing £8 billion in the provision of affordable housing over the next three years, 2008-11. Part of this investment will deliver affordable housing for vulnerable groups including young people at risk and young people leaving care.
Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many Grade (a) I and (b) II listed buildings have been demolished in each year since 2000; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what her Departments target is for the number of new local authority social dwellings to be constructed in the next 12 months. 
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether local authorities have powers to buy their insurance from mutual local authority companies set up to provide insurance to local authorities without having to put such contracts of insurance out to tender through the public procurement process. 
John Healey: There is currently a case to be heard before the Court of Appeal brought by Risk Management Partners Ltd. against London borough of Brent concerning these matters. It would not be appropriate for the Department to comment until the court has handed down its judgment.
Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government with reference to the answer to the hon. Member for Beckenham (Mrs. Lait) of 24 July 2007, Official Report, column 966W, on local authorities: newspaper press, what steps have been taken since that answer was given to allow local authorities more discretion on how to best publicise matters in their area. 
John Healey: In our White Paper Communities in control: real people, real power we recognised the importance of effective communication by local authorities and undertook to consult on potential changes to the Code of Recommended Practice on Local Government Publicity, which we intend to do before the end of the year.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether joint waste authorities will be subject to oversight by (a) the Standards Board of England and (b) the Local Government Ombudsman. 
John Healey: Joint waste authorities will be subject to oversight by the Standards Board for England, in the context of its role as the strategic regulator of the conduct regime for local authority members. They are within the jurisdiction of the local government ombudsman.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government for what reason the NUTS 2 territorial groupings are being used to distribute the new round of funding from Local Authority Business Growth Incentive scheme; and why district councils are being treated differently from previous rounds. 
John Healey: Proposals for a revised LABGI scheme were set out in the consultation paper Reforming the Local Authority Business Growth Incentives scheme, published on 28 August 2008 with responses invited by 20 November. Views are being sought on the grouping of authorities for the allocation of reward, the treatment of district councils and other aspects of the scheme. Responses to the consultation will be carefully considered before the scheme is finalised. Copies of the consultation paper have been placed in the House of Commons Library. It can also be viewed on my Departments website at:
John Healey: To decide whether to lend to a local authority, the Public Works Loan Board asks the following two questions to the applicant nominated by the local authority's chief financial officer: Is your local authority complying with the appropriate requirements of the PWLB's current circulars? and Is this application within the relevant legislation of your council's borrowing powers? The answer to both questions must be yes'.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether the maximum amount of funding lent to local authorities via the Public Works Loan Board each year is fixed, or varies according to the demand from local authorities. 
Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether it is her Department's policy that the new burdens principle applies to the funding of town and parish councils. 
Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government in what circumstances additional income from fines, assuming constant staff costs, results in a cash-releasing value for money gain for the purposes of local authority efficiency reports. 
However, where the number of fines issued increases, an improvement in the effectiveness of staff may have occurred. Where this has happened, and councils are clear that standards of fairness and justice have been maintained, they may record a cash-releasing gain based on the cost of the staff employed (not the value of the additional fines imposed): the efficiency being recorded is in the use of staff time, not the income from fines.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether councils which have a smaller number of households claiming single person's council tax discount (a) receive greater net revenue from council tax receipts and (b) have their formula grant adjusted downwards relative to councils which have a larger number of households claiming single person's discount. 
John Healey: Receipts from council tax will, among other things, be affected by the number of households claiming single person's discount. The basis of distributing formula grant is set out in the local government finance report that is published on the Communities and Local Government website at:
John Healey: As Parliament approved on 4 February, Surrey, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, Hampshire, West Sussex, Oxfordshire, Wiltshire, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Essex county councils will all receive 2 per cent. increase in formula grant in 2008-09. This is the minimum percentage increase for authorities with responsibility for education and social services in 2008-09.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what estimate she has made of the effect of recent falls in stock market values on levels of local authority investment income. 
John Healey: No central assessment has been carried out. Section 12 of the Local Government Act 2003 gives a local authority power to invest for any purpose relevant to its functions, or for the purposes of the prudent management of its financial affairs.
Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what guidance her Department has provided to local authorities on investing funds in Irish-owned banks operating in the Republic of Ireland. 
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will make a statement on the implications of the July 2008 Court of Appeal ruling on equal pay in local government. 
John Healey: Local authorities, in their capacity as employers, are considering the potential implications of the recent Court of Appeal judgment in Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council v. Bainbridge and Ors.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether an impact assessment has been produced to accompany her Departments proposals on local government bylaws and greater use of fixed penalty notices. 
All provisions in the Act went through the process of screening or an initial RIA so a clear understanding of the possible impacts of these measures could be obtained. The following provisions were deemed as having negligible impact and therefore required no further analysis.
Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what guidance her Department provides to local authorities on the levels of local authority chief executive pay. 
The Joint Negotiating Committee for Chief Executives produces guidance on the national salary framework and conditions of service for local authority chief executives. Details of how to obtain the handbook are given on the Local Government Employers website at:
Paul Rowen: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will consider the merits of introducing cost-capping and cost-sharing agreements in relation to the recently introduced Local Government Pension Scheme analogous to those in place in schemes in the NHS and the Civil Service. 
John Healey: The new benefit structure for the Local Government Pension Scheme was introduced by the Local Government Pension Scheme (Benefits, Membership and Contributions) Regulations 2007 which were laid before Parliament on 4 April 2007. Regulation 40 of those Regulations already places a responsibility on the Secretary of State to produce guidance on managing future costs before 31 March 2009, with the intention of ensuring a sustainable and viable pension scheme which is fair to taxpayers.
An informal consultation on possible ways forward, developed with the Schemes main interested parties, closed on the 30 May 2008. Following constructive discussions with stakeholders, a formal consultation will begin shortly on cost sharing arrangements specific to the needs of the LGPS to meet the regulatory timetable.
Paul Rowen: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many local government employees will have received payments from the local government pension scheme in 2008. 
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