|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
Mr. Hands: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many staff of her Department were recorded absent for non-medical reasons on (a) 2 February 2009 and (b) 3 February 2009; what estimate she has made of the (i) cost to her Department and (ii) number of working hours lost due to such absence; and what guidance her Department issued to staff in respect of absence on these days. 
Mr. Khan: The Department does not record non-medical absences centrally and compilation of this information from local sources (i.e. individual business units) would incur a disproportionate cost. Staff were told via the emergency incident line and internet to contact their line manager to discuss working from home if they could not get safely to and from the office.
Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government with which banks her Department has or has had contracts for the provision of financial advice, for the financial year 2008-09. 
David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many staff in her Department (a) were disciplined and (b) had their employment terminated as a result of a poor sickness record in each of the last 12 months. 
Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar of 29 January 2009, Official Report, column 769W, on eco-towns, if she will place in the Library a copy of the Cragg Ross Dawson research on local attitudes to the proposals for eco-towns. 
Margaret Beckett: I am placing a copy of the Cragg Ross Dawson research in the House Library. This was qualitative research undertaken last July to explore national and local attitudes to the proposals for eco-towns, and to help inform our communications strategy at that time.
Mr. Graham Stuart: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many empty homes there were in each local authority area in Yorkshire and the Humber at the latest date for which figures are available; how many of these homes had been empty on a long-term basis; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Iain Wright: Initiatives to bring empty homes back into use are, rightly, channelled through local authorities who are best placed to assess what measures are appropriate to their local circumstances. In the first instance, we encourage local authorities to work with owners to persuade them of the benefits of bringing their property back into use.
However, where it is clear that owners are not prepared to co-operate with efforts to get their property occupied through agreement, we have provided enforcement powers to deal with them. Key powers are compulsory purchase and enforced sale which were added to by the Housing Act 2004 which introduced a new power for local authorities to make Empty Dwelling Management Orders (EDMOs) in respect of long-term empty homes. An EDMO allows a local authority to take over the management of an unoccupied dwelling in certain circumstances.
We are keen for local authorities to make use of EDMOs, where appropriate, and are supporting the independent Empty Homes Agencys new guidance on EDMOs, which was launched on 10 March. The guidance is internet based and interactive and takes local authorities through the EDMO process step by step. My right hon. Friend the Minister for Housing and Planning provided a foreword for the guidance.
Later this month we are also hosting a seminar at which I will address local authorities encouraging them to take action and to share best practice on tackling empty homes, including the use of EDMOs.
In addition, local authorities and other public sector bodies must do more to resolve the problems within their own housing stock, but this does not mean they should be prevented from pursuing reoccupation of privately owned dwellings.
|Vacant dwellings in Yorkshire and Humber: As at 1 April 2008|
|Local authority (LA) stock||Registered social landlord (RSL) stock||Private sector (PS) stock||Total vacant stock||Of wh ich: PS dwellings vacant more than six months|
|(1) Includes 303 dwellings earmarked for demolition or re-development linked to regeneration or other housing schemes.|
Information on long term (six months plus) empty stock in the social housing sector is not available.
Housing Strategy Statistical Appendix (HSSA) 2008
Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 4 February 2009, Official Report, columns 1284-85W, on homelessness, what definition of the term vulnerable households she uses; and what estimate she has made of the number of vulnerable households in Crosby constituency which will receive assistance under the Mortgage Reserve Scheme. 
Margaret Beckett: The Government Mortgage Rescue aims to support up to 6,000 vulnerable households in England at risk of repossession over the next two years. Under the schemes criteria, a vulnerable household is termed as one that falls within one of three priority need categories and who would be owed a duty to secure accommodation under the homelessness legislation (section 189(1)(a)-(c) of the Housing Act 1996) if they became homeless through no fault of their own.
(1) a person with whom dependent children reside or might reasonably be expected to reside;
(2) a pregnant woman or a person with whom she resides or might reasonably be expected to reside; or
(3) a person who is vulnerable as a result of old age, mental illness or handicap or physical disability or other special reason, or with whom such a person resides or might reasonably be expected to reside.
The £200 million Government Mortgage Rescue Scheme has been operational across the country since 1 January 2009. The Government have not made any estimate of the number of households it expects to benefit from the scheme by individual parliamentary constituency. The scheme is demand-led, with the number of vulnerable households benefiting from the scheme dependant on the number of eligible households approaching their local authority for assistance.
Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 4 February 2009, Official Report, columns 1284-5W, on homelessness, how much of the proposed £200 million spending to prevent homelessness is to be allocated to Sefton; and on what projects the funding will be used. 
Mr. Iain Wright: Sefton will receive £62,000 a year homelessness grant (revenue); a total of £186,000 over the period 2008-11. This money is not ring-fenced therefore it is for local authorities to decide how to use their homelessness grant to effectively deliver their strategies.
The project provides 13 hostel bed spaces for single homeless men, many of whom have an offender background, suffer from the effects of years of rough sleeping, substance misuse and poor mental health. The building in which the service is currently based is dilapidated and not fit for purpose. The Places of Change programme grant will enable BOSCO to transform a poor physical environment into an attractive, welcoming living space, and also to improve established training facilities and opportunities for social enterprise for residents.
Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will bring forward proposals to simplify the mechanism for the allocation of housing and planning delivery grants in light of the downturn in the housing sector. 
Mr. Iain Wright: The Government set out their proposals for the Housing and Planning Delivery Grant (HPDG) in the Housing and Planning Delivery Grant: Allocation Mechanism and Summary of Consultation Responses document which was published in July 2008. This document confirmed the final allocation mechanism and also set out that the Government will closely monitor both the housing market and the impact of HPDG and consider any necessary changes in light of emerging evidence.
We are currently considering the allocation mechanism to ensure that local authorities are incentivised to respond to current market conditions and are well placed to respond effectively to the market upturn. We will undertake public consultation on any proposed changes which we will issue during the spring.
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|