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David Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what recent assessment she has made of the appropriateness of the council tax banding applied to park homes; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Bromley and Chislehurst of 19 January 2009, Official Report, column 1072W, on councillors: Arun, what the Audit Commissions basis was for the use of its statutory powers to obtain the personal bank account details of councillors. 
Your Parliamentary Question on what the Audit Commission's evidential basis was for the use of its statutory powers to obtain the personal bank account details of Arun councillors has been passed to me for reply.
The request is not limited to councillors. All payroll data is treated in the same way whether it is a salary, members' allowance or other remuneration. Payroll data is one of the key sets of data matched under the National Fraud Initiative (NFI). For example, by matching payroll data to Housing Benefit claimants' data, we can identify potential fraudulent claims or overpayments.
NFI data processing looks at whether the bank account number and sort code is the same or different in the data provided. This information is then converted into a flag of either 'Yes' the bank details are the same on each data set or 'No' the bank details are different. It is this flag that is included in the NFI reports that helps those participating in the NFI exercise to prioritise cases where income has, for example, potentially been withheld (e.g. in an undeclared bank account). This data is highly significant in the fight against fraud and, in a previous NFI exercise, this information led to the detection of an additional bank account containing capital in excess of £100,000 that was not declared by the housing benefit claimant.
Although the bank account and sort code are included on the payroll data specification, the name in which the bank account is held is not collected so the Audit Commission cannot make a connection to other account holders or transactions. All the data collected for the National Fraud Initiative is treated with the utmost sensitivity and its use is strictly controlled as set out in the Code of Data Matching Practice, which was laid before Parliament on 21 July 2008. In line with the Code, all original data provided to the Commission will be destroyed and rendered irrecoverable by the Commission at the end of the exercise.
Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Robert Neill) of 19 January 2009, Official Report, columns 1072-3W, on councillors: Arun, whether the Audit Commission plans to conduct similar exercises in other local authorities in the next 12 months. 
Your Parliamentary question on whether the Audit Commission plans to conduct in other local authorities in the next 12 months, exercises similar to that conducted in Arun in connection with the Commissions National Fraud Initiative (NFI), has been passed to me for reply.
The Commission does not plan to conduct NFI national data matching exercises in other local authorities in the next 12 months because the NFI is currently undertaken every two years. This exercise is carried out under powers in Part 2A of the Audit Commission Act 1998. All local authorities were required to provide data, including payroll data, for NFI 2008/09 in October 2008. The next scheduled exercise, NFI 2010/11, will require all local authorities to submit data in October 2010.
A copy of this letter will be placed in Hansard.
Mr. Stewart Jackson:
To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Robert Neill) of 19 January 2009, Official Report, columns 1072-3W, on councillors: Arun, whether the Audit Commission has requested councillors in other local authorities to provide their personal bank account details; and what penalty
applies in respect of non-compliance with such a request from the Audit Commission. 
Your Parliamentary question on whether the Audit Commission has requested councillors in other local authorities to provide their personal bank account details; and what penalty for non-compliance applies in respect of such a request from the Audit Commission has been passed to me for reply.
All local authorities were required to provide payroll data, including but not restricted to councillors bank account details, for NFI 2008/09 in October 2008. This information was required under powers in Part 2A of the Audit Commission Act 1998. Failure to provide the required data without reasonable excuse is an offence for which an individual, on summary conviction, is liable to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale plus an additional fine of up to £20 for each day that the offence continues after conviction. Currently, a level 3 fine can be for an amount up to £1,000.
A copy of this letter will be placed in Hansard.
Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the purpose and function of the McKinsey consultancy services provided to her Department was in relation to the Communities High Level Seminar; and into which categories the £407,000 of expenditure on the consultancy work fell. 
In a first phase of work, they helped: assess opportunities and challenges created by the new framework; identify where to prioritise work to ensure successful delivery; and engage senior leaders (in part through a two-day high-level seminar). Fees for this phase were £125,000 (excluding VAT) or £147,000 (including VAT).
They were subsequently commissioned to carry out a second phase of work, in which they helped: review and strengthen the cross-government programme to implement the framework, including new local area agreements; establish a cross-government Leadership Coalition to lead reform: and provide input into the Government publication An introduction to the local performance frameworkdelivering better outcomes for local people. Fees for this phase were £240,000 (excluding VAT) or £282,000 (including VAT).
John Mason: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what property has been lost or stolen from her Department in the last 12 months; and what the estimated cost was of replacement of such property. 
Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will place in the Library a copy of the register of interests of her Departments special advisers. 
Mr. Khan: The rules and guidance for civil servants, including special advisers, on the declaration of interests and handling conflicts of interest are set out in the Civil Service Management Code and the departmental staff handbook.
Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many and what percentage of letters sent by her Department were given to (a) the Royal Mail and (b) another postal services provider for delivery in the last 12 months; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Khan: During the period 1 March 2008 to 28 February 2009, 78,105 postal items were despatched via Royal Mail. 19 international postal items, (less than 0.03 per cent. of all items) were despatched via Corporate Mailing Services (CMS) which is a private company sub-contracted to our facilities management services provider.
Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) what mechanisms are in place to evaluate the effects of changes to the disabled facilities grant system published in February 2008; 
Mr. Iain Wright:
The Government regard the disabled facilities grant programme as an important means to help disabled and older people continue to live as independently as possible by having their homes adapted. That is why we have increased the budget to enable more older and disabled people to receive the assistance they require. The effect of the annual grant increase will in part be assessed through the collection of data showing the number of grants awarded. We do not collect data on the time it takes an authority to deliver a disabled facilities grant as circumstances will vary from case to case but recognise that due to budgetary pressures delays in delivery can sometimes occur. The increase in
the budget should help to address delays. Other data collected from local authorities will give an indication as to the effect of the wider changes made to the programme such as the relaxation of the grant conditions. We have also set up a group of nine local authorities to evaluate some of the changes to the programme announced in February 2008. The local authorities are assisting with the piloting of the removal of the grant ring fence. The pilot will run for 18 months and a full evaluation will follow prior to any possible implementation.
Mr. Iain Wright: The Government regard the Disabled Facilities Grant programme as an important means to help disabled and older people continue to live as independently as possible by having their homes adapted. That is why we have more than doubled the Government funds available for the programme from £57 million in 1997 to £146 million in 2008 with an increase of £10 million in each of the subsequent years making the budget £166 million by 2010. Details of the grant contributions by Communities and Local Government can be found on the Departments website at:
Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what steps her Department (a) has undertaken and (b) plans to undertake in respect of (i) economic competitiveness and (ii) quality of life for residents in seaside towns in England. 
John Healey: The Department recognises that seaside towns have a distinctive role to play in sub-regional and regional economies. It supports efforts by the regional development agencies (RDAs), which receive the majority of their funding from CLG, to ensure that seaside towns in their regions are helped to achieve their full economic potential. Initiatives such as the New Deal for Communities, Working Neighbourhoods Fund, and the Local Enterprise Growth Initiative are also benefiting some seaside towns.
Local area agreements (LAAs) are helping local authorities, including those with seaside towns, to work alongside partners to improve public services and the quality of life for people living and working in their areas. Multi area agreements (MAAs) are enabling some seaside towns, such as Bournemouth and Poole, to develop stronger approaches to improving local prosperity. The Government Office for the South West is currently working closely with Torbay on plans to set up an Economic Development Company to promote economic growth and regeneration.
The cross-Government working group on coastal towns, led by CLG, in partnership with the RDA Coastal Areas Network, is identifying areas where more can be done and to highlight existing best practice. This includes supporting work by the Coastal Areas Network to help coastal areas address employment and skills challenges.
Margaret Beckett: We expect to publish the Eco-towns Planning Policy Statement (PPS) later this year following consideration of responses to the consultation on the draft PPS, which runs until 30 April 2009.
Julia Goldsworthy: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what changes have been made to her Departments budgets to provide for payment of the financial corrections required by the European Commission in respect of management of European Regional Development Fund programmes. 
Mr. Khan [holding answer 12 March 2009]: Funding for ERDF financial corrections was found by a mixture of slippage, unallocated budgets and windfall receipts on a number of programmes, without loss of planned outputs.
Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answers to my hon. Friend the Member for Ruislip-Northwood (Mr. Hurd) of 26 January 2009, Official Report, column 108W, on fire services: contracts, and of 22 January 2009, Official Report, column 1635W, on Government contracts, who authorised the decision not to include the recommended break clauses in the regional fire control rooms contracts. 
Mr. Khan: There are three main contracts that CLG are responsible for in relation to FiReControl. Of these, the IT contract with EADS Defence and Security and the Facilities Management contract include appropriate non default termination provisions. These are in line with OGC Guidance.
The RCC leases are structured as finance leases, to defer capital cost over the stated intended life of the project. This was done to maximise VFM through the use of a core public sector/government covenant to maximise the investment value of such assets over an extended period, and thereby reduce cost to the public purse. The insertion of break clauses, while feasible, would have reduced or removed the benefits of that covenant yield and, ultimately, increased the cost of the initial asset.
Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what plans she has to implement the Pitt proposals relating to planning on flood plains; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Iain Wright:
The Government's Response to Sir Michael Pitt's Review of the summer 2007 floods was published on 17 December 2008. The response sets out what has already been done, and the further actions being taken, to implement each of the Review's recommendations. This includes recommendations 7
and 8 which relate to planning and flood risk. The Government's response can be viewed at:
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