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Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many individuals have been prosecuted for failure to comply with home information pack duties under the Housing Act 2004 and associated secondary legislation. 
Margaret Beckett: Information on affordable homes by constituency is not available. The following table shows the number of new affordable homes built in Eastbourne local authority for each year from 1997-98. The figures include social rent and intermediate affordable housing new build; they exclude affordable housing acquisitions.
|New build affordable homes in Eastbourne local authority|
|New affordable homesnew build|
Housing Corporation and returns from local authorities to the Department for Communities and Local Government.
Not all affordable housing is provided by new build completions as some supply can come from acquisitions. In 2006-07, an additional 30 affordable homes in Eastbourne local authority were provided by acquisitions which are not included in the figure above.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the financial irregularities were that resulted in fines from the European Commission in relation to regeneration schemes. 
John Healey: There has been one financial correction from the European Commission. In 2007, the Commission suspended payments on the North West's 2000-06, ERDF Objective 2 and urban programmes. The Commission applied programme-wide corrections on grounds that aspects of programme management undertaken by the Government Office had not complied sufficiently with the Commission's regulations. The outcome was a financial correction of €25 million which represented less than 4 per cent. of these programme's value. The Department accounted for the correction in the financial year, 2007-08.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what estimate has been made by (a) her Department and (b) the Audit Commission of the level and number of fraudulent claims of council tax (i) second homes discount, (ii) single person discount and (iii) empty homes discount. 
Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government for what reasons a domestic dwelling would be allocated a property details activity code of (a) 30, (b) 60 and (c) 70 by the Valuation Office Agency as part of its council tax valuation work. 
John Healey: The Valuation Office Agency's Instructions and Advice (CTR(E) IA 310105) states that code 30 is allocated when data have been obtained from details provided by the occupier or owner. Code 60 is allocated where data are obtained from details supplied by the billing authority or agent. Code 70 is allocated when data are obtained by a physical inspection of the property.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the estimated annual budget of the Infrastructure Planning Commission will be in each of the next three years. 
Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the estimated gross cost to local authorities of landfill tax was in the last year for which figures are available. 
Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what her Department's policy is on whether licensed premises which remain open late should be liable for additional sites rates payments. 
Mr. Khan [holding answer 27 October 2008]: I understand the hon. Member's question relates to a matter concerning a licence issued under the Licensing Act 2003 which is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.
Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government when the Lifting the Burdens Task Force will conclude its work; and what the timetable is for implementation of its recommendations. 
The CLG response to the task forces review of housing and planning was to delete nine best value performance indicators (BVPIs) for 2007-08. The recommendations made in the task forces report on financial management burdens are still being considered.
Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what (a) rights and (b) powers councillors have to access information held by the local authority to which they have been elected. 
John Healey: A councillor has the same rights to information held by a local authority as a member of the public, under the Freedom of Information Act. In addition, councillors have a right under the Local Government Act 1972 to inspect documents in the local authoritys possession. Exceptions to this right do exist, for instance, information relating to individuals. Finally councillors have a common law right to access any material where this is necessary for them to discharge their duties as a councillor, although a request for such information may be subject to a need to know test.
Sarah Teather: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what advice she has issued to (a) local authorities and (b) housing associations on promoting the use of (i) credit and (ii) debit cards to their tenants for the payment of (A) monthly rent payments and (B) rent arrears. 
Margaret Beckett: The Department published Improving the Effectiveness of Rent Arrears Management: Good Practice Guidance in June 2005. It is aimed at all social landlords and all levels of a landlords rent arrears management service.
On rent arrears, the guidance makes no explicit reference to debit or credit cards. It stresses the value of preventative measures. It advises landlords, among other things, to ensure that arrears repayment arrangements are realistic by undertaking with the tenant a detailed financial assessment of his or her income and expenditure.
On rent payment, the guidance advises that landlords should provide a diverse range of methods for tenants to pay their rent. These should be well-publicised, flexible, accessible and convenient to use. While credit and debit cards are included in the range of possible payment methods mentioned, the guidance states that any review of payment methods should consider their effectiveness in minimising arrears.
The Housing Corporation is aware that the use of credit and debit cards to pay rent and rent arrears has raised concerns. It has not issued any guidance to housing associations on this, as it is for each individual association to decide its own approach to managing rent payment.
The Housing Corporation supports flexible approaches to the payment of rent and other charges. For many tenants, for example those who may find travelling difficult, being able to use direct debits or online banking provides convenience and security. The Corporation also recognises that it may not be cost-effective for landlords to handle relatively small amounts of cash.
The Corporation has published a financial inclusion toolkit to assist landlords to recognise and tackle the root causes of multiple indebtedness, and to signpost good quality advice and support. Social landlords are expected to manage rent arrears positively, intervening before debt escalates out of control.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will bring forward proposals to make decisions of the Local Government Ombudsman binding on local authorities. 
valuable feature facilitating an informal and non-adversarial approach to investigations.
Julia Goldsworthy: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many businesses the Local Enterprise Growth Initiative has assisted in each year of its operation; and what its budget for (a) 2009-10, (b) 2010-11 and (c) 2011-12 is. 
John Healey: Communities and Local Government does not have a central record of the number of businesses the Local Enterprise Growth Initiative (LEGI) has assisted in each year of its operation. The LEGI budget for (a) 2009-10 is £98.9 million and (b) 2010-11 is £94 million. Any future funding for 2011-12 would need to be determined in a future spending round.
was published earlier this year by this Department in conjunction with the Local Government Association. It sets out a comprehensive picture of the support which
central and local government are providing to local partners to meet the efficiency challenge and deliver better public services, and explains how that support can be accessed.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government with reference to the publication of the Community Empowerment White Paper, what estimate she has made of the possible additional costs to local authorities of allowing audio or video-based (a) remote voting and (b) participation in the meetings referred to. 
Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) whether parish councils which are liable for higher business rates levied on parish council-owned property in areas where the higher tier council has levied a supplementary business rate will receive funding to compensate from (a) the higher tier council and (b) the Government; 
(2) whether district councils which are liable for higher business rates levied on district council-owned property in areas where the county council has levied a supplementary business rate will receive funding to compensate from (a) the higher tier council and (b) the Government; 
(3) whether London boroughs will receive additional funding from the Government to compensate for higher business rates levied from the London supplementary business rate for Crossrail; and whether an estimate has been made of the likely additional cost to London boroughs from such higher rates. 
John Healey: Business Rate Supplements: a White Paper, published in October 2007, set out the Government's plans to introduce a power for county councils, unitary authorities and the Greater London authority to levy supplements on non-domestic properties with a rateable value over £50,000 in both the public and private sectors. Subject to the legislation required to give effect to these proposals, authorities will also be able to introduce more generous safeguards for local businesses. Any estimate of the likely additional costs falling on non-domestic ratepayers as a result of the levying of a supplement will therefore be for the relevant levying authority. Local authorities are required to pay taxes like any other taxpayer. They have considerable freedom as to how they budget to spend the resources available to them, bearing in mind local priorities and their overall resource position.
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