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15 Dec 2008 : Column 359W—continued

Prime Minister

Finsbury Ltd.

Norman Baker: To ask the Prime Minister on what date he last met Roland Rudd in his capacity as a representative of Finsbury Ltd. [243132]

The Prime Minister: My officials and I have meetings with a wide range of organisations and individuals on a range of subjects.


Revenue and Customs: Closures

Stewart Hosie: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what discussions he has had with (a) HM Revenue and Customs and (b) Treasury officials on the announced closure of tax offices in Scotland. [242739]

Ann McKechin: My right hon. Friend has regular discussions with the Treasury on a range of issues.

Communities and Local Government

Climate Change

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment her Department has made of its capacity to adapt to climate change; and what plans she has to publish a climate change adaptation strategy. [241176]

Mr. Iain Wright: The cross-Government Adapting to Climate Change Programme increases Government’s capacity to adapt by ensuring a coordinated approach across all Departments and the public sector. This includes implementation of the adaptation aspects of the Climate Change Act, such as development of the national climate risk assessment.

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Information about the programme, and about my Department’s current work to promote adaptation to climate change, is set out at:

This includes work on planning, new development, housing and resilience and our priorities for future adaptation action. We are also taking part in cross-government work to support local authorities as they mainstream climate risk into their strategies and services and help their communities adapt to climate change.

Community Development: Disabled

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what steps her Department is taking to ensure that disabled people are given support to help them integrate into the communities in which they live, with particular reference to those who live (a) in a residential home and (b) with their families. [242577]

Mr. Khan: Our White Paper “Communities in Control: real people real power”, published in July 2008, describes a variety of ways in which we will be seeking to empower local communities and citizens—including disabled people and other disadvantaged groups, whether living in residential homes or with families—thus enabling them to participate more actively in their communities. These include: a new duty on local authorities to promote democracy, another duty requiring best value authorities to involve people in local decision making, and a local Take Part programme to encourage more people from different backgrounds to engage in civic activities. This document can be found at:

We also recently published our Secretary of State’s report on Disability Equality which highlighted focused action for disabled people and included commitments for further improvements. This can be found at:

Compulsory Purchase

Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will make it her policy to keep centrally held records on the number of compulsory purchase orders that have been issued by local authorities. [241428]

Mr. Iain Wright: No. I do not think that the expense would be justified. The Government office for London now has responsibility for considering applications for the confirmation of compulsory purchase orders submitted by English local authorities to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. The casework management database includes some basic statistical information such as the number of CPO cases dealt with, the number opposed or unopposed, the number confirmed or refused and the CPO power used. Other types of local authority CPOs are dealt with by the Secretary of State within whose policy responsibility they fall.

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Council Housing: Repairs and Maintenance

Sarah Teather: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many housing repairs were undertaken by each local authority in each of the last five years; and how much each authority spent on such repairs. [240797]

Mr. Iain Wright: The Department has collected data on local authority programmes of work through the Business Plan Statistical Appendix (BPSA) since 2001-02. The information held includes the following two categories covering a broad range of activity:

Two tables with information for the last five years (2002-03 to 2006-07) have been deposited in the Library.

Departmental Higher Education

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many staff in her Department undertook courses funded by the Department for (a) undergraduate degrees, (b) postgraduate degrees or diplomas, (c) Masters degrees, (d) MBA degrees and (e) PhD degrees in the last 12 months, broken down by pay band. [242142]

Mr. Khan: The following table shows the number of staff who were sponsored by the Department in the last 12 months to undertake degree courses up to PhD level. These figures do not include those who were sponsored to undertake professional courses which are equivalent to degree level and above.

Pay band Number of staff











Departmental Marketing

Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much has been spent by her Department on advertising in the last 12 months. [243724]

Mr. Khan: Figures for public information campaigns in the financial year 2007-08 were published in the Department’s Annual Report, which is available in the Library of the House and from the Department’s website.

Departmental Temporary Employment

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government with reference to the answer of 28 October 2008, Official Report, column 947W, on departmental recruitment agencies, how many staff were recruited through each company in each year; and for how long on average staff recruited through these companies worked for the Department in each year. [242311]

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Mr. Khan: Since 1 January 2008 the Department for Communities and Local Government has recruited 169 temporary staff through recruitment agencies. By company this figure is broken down as:




Brook Street


Morgan Hunt


Badenoch and Clark


Venn Group


Monarch Recruitment


Allen Lane


Michael Page


Sue Hill


Figures are unavailable prior to 2008

Details of average length of bookings could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Departmental Trade Unions

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government with reference to the answer of 21 October 2008, Official Report, column 237W, on trade unions, to which trades union the civil servant was seconded; and when the civil servant was seconded. [242102]

Mr. Khan: The civil servant in question was seconded to Prospect on 16 October 2006.

Empty Property: Business Premises

Mr. Leech: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many business premises have qualified for empty property rates relief in each of the last five years. [241810]

John Healey: Details of the value of empty property relief granted from national non-domestic rates in England in the last five financial years from 2003-04 to 2007-08 were published in a statistical release on 17 September 2008 and are available on the Communities and Local Government website at:

Information on the numbers of properties qualifying for relief is not available centrally.

Fire Services: Floods

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what her most recent assessment is of the state of readiness of the fire and rescue services to respond to incidents of flooding. [242781]

Mr. Khan: At the local level, fire and rescue authorities have duties to conduct risk assessments of their area as part of their integrated risk management planning process. This complements work under the Civil Contingencies Act 2004, where local responders collectively consider risks, through local resilience forums. If it is concluded
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that there is a risk of flooding in that area, local responders, including the fire and rescue service, may equip themselves appropriately to meet that risk.

At the national level, my Department has provided the fire and rescue service with 46 high volume pumps, to extract and move significant amounts of water. We have also funded the appropriate level of training to use the high volume pumps. The high volume pumps have been used to great effect during floods.

Fire Services: Industrial Disputes

Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what recent discussions she has had with fire and rescue authorities on their contingency plans in the event of a national firefighters’ strike; and if she will make a statement. [242389]

Mr. Khan: The Civil Contingencies Act 2004 lays down duties for specified “Category 1 responders”, including fire and rescue authorities, to assess, plan and advise in relation to emergencies. For a fire and rescue authority, an emergency includes a period of industrial action. Contingency planning matters are raised from time to time with Ministers and officials by representatives of fire and rescue authorities. No discussions are currently in hand with any individual authority regarding national industrial action.

Homelessness: Floods

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) how many people in each local authority area affected have not yet returned to their homes following the floods of summer 2007; [241086]

(2) how many people who have not yet returned to their homes following the floods of summer 2007 are still living (a) in caravans, (b) in hotels, (c) in bed and breakfast accommodation, (d) in temporary accommodation and (e) with relatives in each local authority area. [241087]

John Healey: As at 17 November 2008, we estimate, based on local authority returns, that 1,040 households remain wholly or partially displaced from their homes following the floods of summer 2007. We estimate that 118 of these households were living wholly or partially in caravans. A breakdown of the figures by local authority area and an accompanying press notice is available at:

Approximately 100 households have been returning each week between the end of June and the middle of November and on that basis we expect around 500 households will not be fully back in their homes by Christmas, most of these for specific reasons, including: extra work such as extensions being done at the same time, delays starting repair work (for example because suitable contractors weren't available); the need to wait for drying out to complete before work could begin; problems with builders; difficulties with insurers; and, remedial work needing to be re-done.

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However, the good progress in the long haul of flood recovery means almost 19 out of 20 households displaced by the floods of summer 2007 floods will be fully home by Christmas. That figure compares well to the Carlisle floods in 2005 when one in 10 were still out of their homes after 18 months. Nevertheless, I recognise it is no consolation to those still displaced and I will continue to work with local authorities and the insurance industry to ensure that the momentum in getting people home is maintained. I am particularly concerned about families still living in caravans and I have linked up with council leaders in the most affected authorities to offer additional support to help those households over the Christmas period.

The Department does not collect information on other types of alternative accommodation in which those still displaced from their homes may be living.

Homelessness: Hertfordshire

Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many homeless (a) children and (b) adults are in temporary accommodation in (i) Hemel Hempstead and (ii) Hertfordshire. [242675]

Mr. Iain Wright: Information about English local authorities' actions under the homelessness legislation (Part 7 of the Housing Act 1996) is collected quarterly at local authority level, about households rather than individuals. Hemel Hempstead constituency lies within the Dacorum local authority.

Data collected include the number of households accepted by local housing authorities as eligible for assistance, unintentionally homeless and in priority need, and therefore owed a main homelessness duty (to secure that suitable accommodation is available). If a settled home is not immediately available, the authority must secure temporary accommodation until a settled home becomes available.

Information on the numbers of households housed in temporary accommodation is reported quarterly by local authorities as at the last day of each quarter. The figures include: those households which have been accepted as owed the main homelessness duty; those for which inquiries are pending; those being accommodated for a limited period because they have been found intentionally homeless and in priority need; those being accommodated pending possible referral to another authority, and those being accommodated pending the outcome of a local authority review or county court appeal.

The number of dependent children (or expected children) in these households is also collected, but data on the number of adults are not. The latest (end September 2008) figures for total households and total children reported by the Hertfordshire authorities are shown in Table 1 as follows:

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