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Mr. Iain Wright: We are committed to the delivery of affordable housing, and are investing over £8 billion in affordable housing over the three years, 2008-11a 50 per cent. increase on the previous three years. This investment is being made through the Homes and Communities Agency. Our aspiration is to reach 70,000 new affordable homes a year by 2010-11.
The September housing market package of measures was aimed at increasing confidence, stability and fairness in the housing market. This offered up to 10,000 first-time buyers currently frozen out of the mortgage market the chance to get onto the property ladder through a new shared equity scheme, Homebuy Direct; Support for up to 6,000 of the most vulnerable homeowners facing repossession to remain in their home through a mortgage rescue scheme; Improving the support offered through the benefit system to homeowners with mortgages who lose their jobs, at a cost of £100 million over the next two years; working with regional development agencies to support the most critical regeneration schemes with the greatest potential to transform their communities and specifically on social rent, bringing forward £400 million in order to deliver up to 5,500 new social homes over the next 18 months on top of current assumptions.
The pre-Budget announced £775 million of housing and regeneration investment brought forward to help offset the impact of economic shocks on priority programmes and provide additional fiscal stimulus. This included £250 million on Decent Homes programmes to fund improvements and improve energy efficiency in 25,000 council homes; a further £150 million on social rented housing to bring forward delivery of up to 2,000 more social rented homes; £175 million for major repairs to council housing stock, and £100 million to support key regeneration and housing infrastructure projects.
Additionally, the RDAs will consider the scope for bringing forward up to £100 million nationally to provide a stimulus to regional and national economic development. The Government also extended the Mortgage Rescue scheme to include cover for second charge lending and the Support for Mortgage Interest scheme for homeowners who lose their jobs.
These announcements build on those previously made in May and July 2008. We are continuing to work closely with the Homes and Communities Agency in order to secure continued delivery of affordable housing.
Julia Goldsworthy: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what authorisation Valuation Office Agency staff require to enter a domestic property for the purposes of revaluation. 
There is statutory authority in section 26(1) of the Local Government Finance Act 1992 for Listing Officers of the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) to enter on, survey and value domestic property for council tax purposes. All VOA staff undertaking council
tax work carry authorisation to act on the Listing Officer's behalf and must, under section 26(3), produce this when visiting a property. I also refer the hon. Member to the information provided on the Valuation Office Agency website at the following link
Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government when she expects the review by Partnerships UK and Baroness Margaret Ford into identifying and releasing surplus public sector land to be published. 
Mr. Iain Wright: The review by Partnerships UK, with Baroness Ford as specialist adviser, was carried out between October 2008 and January 2009. Rather than being a desk-based research exercise, the purpose of this commission was to explore options for driving forward the surplus public sector land programme through face-to-face discussion with a number of public sector bodies. The final report from this commission summarised the activities carried out during this period.
Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what recent assessment her Department has made of the likely effect of the recession on the finances of local authorities in the next three years. 
John Healey: The Audit Commission report, Crunch Time? found that councils are generally prepared for the impact of the economic downturn and the consequent loss of fees and interest, and increased demand for services. The Government have continued to invest in local services with an extra £8.9 billion as part of the first-ever three-year settlement giving councils the stability and flexibility they need to manage their budgets effectively. Delivering continued efficiency gains is key to enabling authorities to manage the pressures they face which will generate a further £4.9 billion over the CSR07 period. We know that some councils are coming up with innovative ways to save money. We believe that councils are therefore well placed to manage their way through this economic climate.
Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how payments to be made under the (a) Local Authority Business Growth Incentive Grant and (b) Area-Based Grant to Chorley Borough Council for the years 2009-10 to 2011-12 were calculated. 
Area Based Grant comprises the pooling of grants previously paid to local authorities by individual Government Departments as specific grants into a single unringfenced general grant. Each contributing Department is responsible for defining the allocation criteria or formulae for the funding streams they wish to be paid via Area Based Grant.
Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will commission an independent review of the emergency planning and contingency arrangements used by local authorities for the purpose of increasing the effectiveness of such arrangements during extended periods of severe weather. 
My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Transport made a written ministerial statement to the House of Commons on 12 March 2009, Official Report, columns 29-32WS. In it, he announced that he would be asking the UK Roads Liaison Group to review the salt stocks issues raised by the severe weather in February 2009.
Julia Goldsworthy: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what guidance her Department issues to (a) local authorities and (b) local strategic partnerships on the publication of (i) agendas and (ii) minutes of meetings. 
John Healey: Requirements as to the conduct of local authority meetings and access to meeting documents are set out in the Local Government Act 1972 and the Local Authorities (Executive Arrangements) (Access to Information) (England) Regulations 2000 (No. 3272). In addition, following the Local Government Act 2000, we issued general guidancethe 'New Councils Constitution: guidance to English Local Authorities'on the conduct of council business.
While the Department has issued statutory guidance on local strategic partnerships'Creating Strong, Safe and Prosperous Communities: Statutory Guidance' this does not include guidance as to the conduct of local strategic partnership meetings, as in the case of these voluntary partnerships this matter is one for local determination.
Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether there are plans to use funds in the Local Government Pension Scheme to support Partnership for Schools; and if she will make a statement. 
John Healey: Local Government Pension Fund administering authorities are responsible for decisions about the use of pension funds monies within the prudent regulatory framework provided by the Local Government Pension Scheme (Management and Investment of Funds) Regulations 1998 as amended.
Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government for what reasons it was decided to replace comprehensive performance assessment with comprehensive area assessment in respect of local government with effect from 2009. 
John Healey: The 2006 Local Government White Paper set out the Government's reasons for introducing the new local performance framework, one element of which was the introduction of a new comprehensive area assessment in 2009.
CPA reported on the performance of councils, but many priority outcomes important to local people are delivered in partnership with other service providers and not just by councils. Like other parts of the new framework, the approach to assessment and inspection was changed to focus more on outcomes, taking into account citizens experiences and perspectives, and on areas rather than just individual institutions.
Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will make an estimate of local authority expenditure on training courses run by Common Purpose in each of the last five years. 
Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will estimate the net revenue likely to be raised from business rates in (a) England and (b) Wales in 2009-10. 
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 14 January 2009, Official Report, column 1278W, on non-domestic rates: Greater London, whether a guidance manual or handbook has been issued to assist with the sub-location coding exercise of non-domestic rates in each billing authority in Greater London. 
John Healey: The agency has in place a guidance note, for use by its valuation staff, which explains the sub-location concept. The guidance is generic and applies to all billing authorities in England and Wales.
Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the oral answer of 19 January 2009, Official Report, column 600, on the port of Liverpool (business rates), what the estimated change to net aggregate revenue is between 2005 and 2010. 
John Healey: The Department does not hold information on revenues as it is the local authorities who are responsible for billing and collection of rates from individual businesses. However, the latest figures from the Valuation Office Agency indicate that the change to net aggregate rateable value of ports in England from the review of ports is to increase the overall rateable value of ports from £201 million to £211, and in Liverpool from £20.2 million to £20.4million.
The total Port operator's rateable value has decreased by £44 million whereas the rateable value of the port occupiers has increased by £55 million; in Liverpool the port operators rateable value has decreased by £9.7 million, while the port occupiers has increased by £9.9 million.
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 19 January 2009, Official Report, columns 1082-3W, on non-domestic rates: ports, if she will place in the Library a copy of the revised table of aggregate changes in rateable values in ports. 
Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar of 5 February 2009, Official Report, columns 1436-7W, on Partnerships UK, and with reference to the written ministerial statement of 16 July 2008, Official Report, column 17WS, on Housing Challenge document, if she will place in the Library a copy of the contract between her Department and Partnerships UK. 
Mr. Iain Wright: I have placed copies of the original framework agreement with Partnerships UK together with the specification and award letter for this particular call off contract in the Library of the House.
Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government for what reasons Helen Zammett has not received a response to her request for information regarding the reasons for the decision in 2008 to lift the Article 4 direction in relation to Chepstow, 49 Leicester Road, Wanstead. 
Mr. Iain Wright: A response was sent to my hon. Friends letter of 6 May 2008, which forwarded Helen Zammetts letter of 18 April requesting information on the reasons for not confirming this Article 4 Direction. The response enclosed a copy of the Government Office for Londons decision letter of 8 April 2008, which contained the reasons for the decision. Her letter, although addressed to the Secretary of State, was only received via my hon. Friend. Had it been sent directly to the Secretary of State the normal procedure would have been to send her a response. However, in this case that would not have been possible as her letter did not include a return address.
Andrew Stunell: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what consideration she has given to the merits of a moratorium on the construction of (a) new housing and schools close to existing high voltage power lines and (b) high voltage power lines close to existing housing and schools; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Iain Wright: The Government are considering the need for any practical precautionary measures in light of the First Interim Assessment: Power Lines and Property, Wiring in Homes and Electrical Equipment in Homes, delivered to the Public Health Minister by the Stakeholder Advisory Group on Extremely Low Frequency Electromagnetic Fields (SAGE).
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