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15. Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment she has made of trends in the number of families on council house waiting lists since 1997; and if she will make a statement. 
16. Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what steps she is taking to encourage provision of low-cost retailing space in town centres for small, local and start-up businesses through the rating and planning systems. 
Mr. Iain Wright: Our forthcoming refinements to town centre policy will make clear that councils should plan proactively to secure a mix of units in new developments to provide for small businesses including starter premises.
17. Mr. Jack: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what statutory services for which her Department is responsible borough councils will be required to provide to those aged over 60 in 2009; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Khan: The Government, through their Supporting People programme, fund a variety of non-statutory services for older people, through local authorities. The SP programme, created in 2003, is administered through top tier local authorities, many of which are borough councils. Over 800,000 older people are supported to live independently through this programme, and services provided include home improvement agency and handyperson services, and wardens. However, it is for local authorities to determine how to best meet the support needs identified in their communities and the Department for Communities and Local Government does not prescribe any particular model of support or services.
In addition, the Disabled Facilities Grant is a mandatory grant used to provide adaptations to the homes of disabled people and older people to live independently in their homes. Adaptations include improving access to a home, and to the basic facilities within a home, for example by providing ramps, door widening, stair lifts and level access showers. Each year, around 35,000 people benefit from a Disabled Facilities Grant. This Government have substantially increased the Government funding for the Disabled Facilities Grant programme from £57 million in 1997 to £156 million in 2009-10. Local authorities also contribute towards the cost of adaptations from their own resources.
18. Mr. Swire: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment she has made of the merits of allowing local authorities to retain all monies raised from council house rent receipts. 
Mr. Iain Wright: The retention of council house rent receipts is being considered as part of the Review of Council Housing Finance and Rents Policy which is being undertaken by my Department and Her Majestys Treasury. The review is currently in its final stages and will report to the Chief Secretary and Communities and Local Government Ministers this spring. It will inform the spending review and will be followed by a period of formal consultation.
Mr. Iain Wright: The Secretary of State received around 35,000 responses from individuals and organisations to the consultation on her proposed changes to the south-west regional spatial strategy. This is the largest number ever received to such a consultation. My officials at the Government office for the south west are currently assessing the responses and the Secretary of State will consider proposals for a revised timetable shortly.
Margaret Beckett: This Department has various policies and programmes for example the Decent Homes Programme, Building Regulations and Energy Performance Certificates that already address energy efficiency in existing homes. The Government will shortly be consulting on a Heat and Energy Saving Strategy, to provide a route map to greener, warmer homes, which will save energy and help householders reduce their fuel bills.
22. Mr. Soames: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much the Government plans to grant to local authorities in West Sussex for infrastructure spending in the next three years; and if she will make a statement. 
John Healey: Local authorities in West Sussex are set to receive at least £36.4 million in 2009-10 and £47.6 million in 2010-11 in grants from central Government which can be spent on local infrastructure. Figures for 2011-12 will be dependent on the outcome of the next spending review. In addition, local authorities in West Sussex will receive at least £6.3 million in PFI credits in each of these three years.
23. Lyn Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what recent assessment she has made of the effect of the credit crunch on the ability of local authorities to meet their local area agreement targets. 
John Healey: We are working closely with local authorities as part of the current LAA annual review to address delivery issues and ensure that priorities and targets remain the right ones for each local area in the light of the economic downturn. This will lead to refreshed LAAs in the spring.
24. Mr. Bone: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what estimate she has made of the number of houses to be built in (a) the growth areas and (b) Northamptonshire in 2009-10. 
Mr. Iain Wright: As at 30 September 2008 there were 72,130 households in temporary accommodation. This is 13 per cent. lower than at the same time last year. The number of households in temporary accommodation has now fallen for 12 consecutive quarters and is 29 per cent. lower than the peak of 2004.
Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what recent representations she has received on the building regulations as they apply to resilience of properties to flooding; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Iain Wright: Officials in my Department have ongoing discussions with a large number of bodies including representatives from local authorities, product manufacturers and the development and insurance industries on this and other issues relating to the building regulations.
Building Regulations should be revised to ensure that all new or refurbished buildings in high flood-risk areas are flood resistant or resilient.
Parts A and C of the building regulations, and the associated guidance, address the requirements on structure and on resistance to contaminants and water (but not currently flooding) that have to be satisfied by most new and refurbished buildings. The Government are currently considering these requirements and how best flood performance could be included within amended building regulations. We plan to consult on this in the summer.
Mr. Bone: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government in what capacity she visited Wellingborough constituency on 5 December 2008; whether the costs of her travel were met by the public purse; and whether she travelled by ministerial car. 
The first robust estimates of the area of Green Belt land at local authority level were for 1997. In 2003 it was decided to collate Green Belt estimates on an annual basis to monitor the departments Spending Review 2004 Public Service Agreement 6 indicator. However, figures were not published for 2005 due to the extensive quality assurance necessary in that year.
Mr. Waterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many people in the Eastbourne borough council area were recorded as (a) homeless and (b) rough sleepers in the months of (i) December and (ii) January in each year since 1997. 
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. 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.
The hon. Member's question asks for figures for the months of December and January. The total number of households accepted as owed a main homelessness duty (acceptances) are collected on a quarterly rather than monthly basis, and numbers in temporary accommodation are a snapshot as at the end of each quarter. Monthly data are therefore not available, but data are provided in the following tables for the last (October to December) and first (January to March) quarters of each year since 1997:
|October to December quarter|
|Acceptances October to December quarter||Temporary accommodation as at December 31|
|January to March quarter|
|Acceptances January to March quarter||Temporary accommodation as at March 31|
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