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Steve Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) when he will publish details of the scheme under the Pensions Act 2008 allowing people to buy back additional years of Class 3 National Insurance contributions; from what date the new Act will apply; and if he will make a statement; 
(2) whether he plans to (a) publish explanatory literature, (b) establish a telephone help contact point and (c) provide other public information on the terms of the scheme under the Pensions Act 2008 for people to buy back additional years of Class 3 national insurance contributions; what personalised advice services will be provided to individuals on making such payments; and if he will make a statement. 
Ms Rosie Winterton [holding answer 9 February 2009]: On 24 October the Government announced that certain people reaching state pension age between 6 April 2008 and 5 April 2015 could pay up to six extra years of voluntary class 3 national insurance contributions for tax years from 1975, providing they already have 20 qualifying years (including full years of home responsibilities protection). This measure was contained in the 2008 Pensions Act.
The Department for Work and Pensions and HM Revenue and Customs are also currently working together to agree business procedures for the measure and what changes may be needed to leaflets, letters and forms.
Hazel Blears: My Department is finalising the details of our £70m Community Builders programme which will support and sustain community led organisations in local neighbourhoods to improve opportunities for local people. All community enterprises, both rural and urban, are welcome to apply.
Mr. Iain Wright: The methodology is set out in the Departments guidance on evaluating the extent of rough sleeping which has been developed in conjunction with the voluntary sector. Our new rough sleeping strategy No One Left Out will bring in changes that will enable more in-depth reporting of rough sleeping.
Margaret Beckett: Nearly £26 million has so far been committed for affordable housing in Oxfordshire from the Homes and Communities Agencys 2008-11 programme. This will support provision of 1,400 units, around 60 per cent. of which are planned to be for social rent. Further funding will depend on value for money and deliverability of schemes.
13. Mr. Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what changes to the Working Neighbourhoods Fund will be introduced as a result of the recent consultation on the revision of eligibility criteria for local authorities. 
Hazel Blears: The changes are that the third criterion is revised to make use of the most up-to-date population estimates, and that the cut-off point is extended from 40 to 50 authorities. This enables us to maintain in broad terms the number of authorities who qualify for Working Neighbourhood Fund.
14. Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what planning guidance her Department has issued to local planning authorities on development of areas at risk of flooding. 
John Healey: Planning Policy Statement 25 (PPS25), Development and Flood Risk, provides the policy framework for local planning authorities to avoid, manage and reduce flood risk to new development. This is supported by the Practice Guide we published in June 2008 to assist local planners in implementing PPS25 policy.
Mr. Sadiq Khan: We are aiming to achieve cutover to the first three regional control centres in the North East, East Midlands and South West in summer 2010nine months later than previously expected, with the full system in place by spring 2012, five months later than originally planned.
16. Mr. Wallace: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what guidance her Department has issued to planning authorities on procedures applicable to repeat planning applications. 
Mr. Iain Wright: The current guidance to local authorities on repeat applications is in the departmental circular 08/2005. This provision, from the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004, extends the existing power to decline to determine planning applications dismissed on appeal to include those repeat applications refused by the planning authority and where there was no appeal to the Secretary of State in the last two years.
17.Joan Ryan: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what recent discussions her Department has had with representatives of the construction industry on likely levels of house-building during the economic downturn. 
Mr. Iain Wright: The Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform has lead responsibility for sponsorship of the construction industry. However, my Department, and our agencies, such as the Homes and Communities Agency, have regular dialogue with those sectors of the industry most directly engaged in meeting our departmental strategic objectives. This includes, but is not restricted to, house builders and developers and their supply chain partners. The dialogue is maintained largely through regular meetings with both individual representatives and representative bodies, such as the Home Builders Federation, as well as participation in round-tables, seminars and other fora. The downturn in house building levels has featured regularly in these discussions, as have many other issues facing the industry. The Government have been keen to explore ways to ensure that the effects of the downturn on house building output can be mitigated, so that vital new homes continue to be constructed, jobs and skills can be protected, and so that everything possible is in place to assist a rapid recovery in the market.
Mr. Khan: Planning policy for the provision of Gypsy And Traveller sites is set out in ODPM circular 01/2006: Planning for Gypsy and Traveller Caravan Sites. Local authorities have a duty to assess the accommodation needs of Gypsies And Travellers and identify enough land to meet the number of pitches set out in the regional spatial strategy. The Homes and Communities Agency will continue to provide funding for the provision of new public sites.
19. Mr. Leech: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many families were re-housed into social housing from social housing registers in the North West in each of the last five years. 
21. Shona McIsaac: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what her policy is on the retrospective levying of business rates in the Humber ports; and if she will make a statement. 
John Healey: The review of ports by the Valuation Office Agency was to ensure that all individual business within and outside of ports are treated in the same way. In the current economic climate the Government understand it could be harder for businesses that are faced with significant unexpected backdated bills of more than 33 months from 1 April 2005 to discharge their liabilities, which is why legislation has been laid before Parliament so that businesses facing such bills in those circumstances will not be required to pay their backdated liability within the financial year at present, and will be able to do so in equal interest-free instalments over eight years.
22. Michael Fabricant: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what estimate her Department has made of changes in the number of (a) repossessed and (b) empty houses in the last 12 months. 
Council of Mortgage Lenders.
Council Taxbase and Council Taxbase Supplementary (CTBl and CTBIS) returns from local authorities.
23. Paul Rowen: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many right-to-buy sales of council houses she expects to take place during 2009-10; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Khan: The information requested is not available. It is up to each individual tenant who qualifies for the right-to-buy to decide whether to purchase their homes, in the light of their personal circumstances.
Mr. Khan: Last October the Secretary of State invited local authorities to submit proposals under the Sustainable Communities Act. Local authorities have until 31 July 2009 to put forward proposals. The Local Government Association and Communities and Local Government will consider the lessons from the first round as it develops, and will publish information on further invitations in due course.
Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what guidance her Department has issued to local planning authorities on the use of compulsory purchase powers to obtain land for new authorised Traveller pitches. 
Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 4 February 2009, Official Report, column 1778W, on council housing: Crosby, how much funding has been allocated to Sefton Borough Council in 2008-09 to reduce the number of council homes that do not meet the Decent Homes Standard. 
Mr. Iain Wright: No funding has been allocated to Sefton metropolitan borough council in 2008-09 to reduce the number of council homes that do not meet the Decent Homes Standard. The council transferred its stock to One Vision Housing (a Registered Social Landlord) under large scale voluntary transfer arrangements in October 2006).
Sarah Teather: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much on average it cost a local authority to build a unit of new social housing to Code for Sustainable Homes Level 5 standard at the latest period for which figures are available. 
Mr. Iain Wright: There are no requirements for new homes funded by Government to be built to code level 5, only level 3. Currently, the only costs analysis we have completed of building to the code are those in Cost Analysis of the Code for Sustainable Homes published in July 2008, written by Cyrill Sweett. The report is available to download at
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