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In managing the programme we are drawing on policy expertise in terms of housing, planning and sustainable communities from the Department and its agencies. However certain aspects of the programme in relation to the assessment process have required us to seek specific technical expertise, for example on the sustainability
appraisal. The costs related to this technical consultancy, along with those for marketing and consultation are set out in the following table.
TCPA work on practical guidance and best practice advice to local authorities and other stakeholders, including running the Eco-towns Expert Group, running events with stakeholders and producing worksheets
|1 The Challenge Panel members were entitled to claim the Government rate of £350 per day when working for the Panel.|
All figures for expenditure have been rounded to the nearest hundred. However, please note that a large proportion of the overall figure represents contract value, not all of which has been realised (work is still to be completed).
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the budget is for the eco-town programme; and how much has been spent, broken down by type of category of expenditure. 
Mr. Iain Wright: Over the last 12 months the Department has spent approximately £670,000 on consultancy fees in relation to the eco-towns programme. This has been to support our assessment of the eco-town locations and schemes, including publication of the Sustainability Appraisal on 4 November 2008. This work will also assist local authorities considering planning applications for schemes in those locations announced in the final shortlist of locations with potential to be an eco-town next year, following the second stage consultation.
Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many gross hectares of Green Belt land, excluding additions to the Green Belt, have been developed in each year since 1996 for which figures are available, broken down by region. 
Mr. Iain Wright:
Decisions about the use of land which is designated as green belt, or whether land should be designated as green belt, must be taken in
accordance with the policy in Planning Policy Guidance Note 2 on green belts. This policy has performed an important role in preventing urban sprawl and protecting the countryside for 50 years. There is a presumption against inappropriate development in green belt but the policy allows for some development there, such as to support agriculture or forestry or as limited infill in existing villages. Development that is inappropriate may be permitted only where the benefits clearly outweigh any harm to the green belt and where very special circumstances are also demonstrated. The Government remain committed to current green belt policy and have no intention of making changes to it.
Detailed information of the designated 1996 green belt boundary is not centrally held. Information on designated green belt boundaries is held for only 1997 and 2007. Land use change statistics on the green belt are now based on the 2007 designated boundary, but as the question specifically excludes additions to the green belt since 1996, in this case the 1997 designated boundary has been used.
Estimates for land changing to developed use within the designated 1997 green belt are provided for 1996 to 2003 as this is the most up to date information on changes to the 1997 green belt available. All the estimates in the attached table reflect development each year within land designated as green belt in 1997 irrespective of whether or not the land was actually designated as green belt at the time of change.
Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many homeless households were accepted as (a) eligible for housing, (b) unintentionally homeless and (c) in priority need by local authorities in each year since 1997. 
Mr. Iain Wright: Information about English local housing authorities' actions under the homelessness legislation (Part 7 of the Housing Act 1996) is collected quarterly at local authority level. Data collected includes the number of households accepted by local housing authorities as (a) eligible for assistance, (b) unintentionally homeless and (c) in priority need, and therefore owed a main homelessness duty (to secure that suitable accommodation is available). These households are known as 'accepted' households.
Sarah Teather: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what estimate she has made of the number of people who were rough sleeping in each (a) region and (b) local authority area on the latest date for which figures are available, broken down by (i) age group, (ii) gender and (iii) ethnic background. 
Mr. Iain Wright: The 2008 estimate of the number of rough sleepers in England showed 483 people sleeping rough on any single nighta 74 per cent. reduction on the 1998 baseline. The estimate is based on the results of local authority street counts in those areas where a known, or suspected, rough sleeping problem has been identified.
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