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Right to Enfranchise Provisions

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (Mr. Iain Wright): I have today published a consultation paper that proposes the non-implementation and repeal of the Right to Enfranchise (RTE) provisions in the 2002 Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act (the 2002 Act).

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The 2002 Act sought through the RTE provisions to prevent what was at that time acknowledged to be a fairly limited problem: qualifying leaseholders being deliberately excluded when fellow leaseholders exercised statutory rights to purchase the freehold of the building containing their flats (called collective enfranchisement). However, it has become clear that implementation of the provisions would introduce a considerable amount of additional burdens, complexity and cost into the process.

The Government’s view is that this would be to the overall detriment of leaseholders in general who are benefiting from the changes that have been made by the 2002 Act and earlier legislation to remove unreasonable barriers to enfranchisement.

Leaseholders will in due course also benefit from the introduction of regulations on accounting for leaseholders monies which will complete the programme of reform introduced under the 2002 Act.

The consultation runs until 3 August 2009 and the Government would welcome responses to their proposals up until that date. Copies of the paper, “A consultation paper on the right to enfranchise (RTE) provisions”, have been placed in the Library of the House.

Gypsy and Traveller Caravan Count

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (Mr. Iain Wright): The Government have today published the “Count of Gypsy and Traveller Caravans on 19 January 2009”.

Copies have been placed in the Library of the House and can be accessed via the Communities and Local Government website at:

Housing and Planning Delivery Grant

The Minister for Housing (Margaret Beckett): I am today announcing the release of a consultation into proposed changes to the allocation mechanism for years 2 and 3 (2009/10 and 2010/11) of Housing and Planning Delivery Grant (HPDG). HPDG was established in 2007 to reward local authorities for improved delivery of housing and other planning outcomes as part of their strategic, place shaping role and to provide more support to communities and local councils who are actively seeking to deliver new homes. The decision to review the grant scheme follows our public commitment to monitor the grant in light of changes in economic circumstances.

Changes to the funding profile

The quantum of funding available for HPDG was set in a different economic context than where we are today. We remain committed to the short and long-term objective of increased housing supply and will continue to invest significant sums through HPDG for local authorities who deliver more homes, with funding doubling from £100 million in year 1 to £200 million in year 3. In addition, there will no longer be a capital element to the grant. However, current economic conditions have created new priorities both for Government and local authorities; we have therefore taken the decision to scale back the
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increase in HPDG and focus on delivering real help to the people who need it—and so have halved the rent increases facing council tenants this year.

Proposed changes to the allocation mechanism

We are also consulting on changes to the way the grant is allocated to ensure it recognises current challenges and encourages positive action by local authorities to facilitate recovery. Key reforms being proposed are:

We are also consulting on proposals for an additional HPDG element in year 3 specifically to incentivise the delivery of affordable housing.


Meaningful community involvement is an integral part of the planning system. The White Paper “Communities in Control: Real People, Real Power” announced up to £4 million additional funding for local planning authorities to promote community participation in planning. This funding is in addition to HPDG; however, we propose to use the HPDG mechanism to distribute this additional funding. The proposed allocation criteria would support those authorities whom we would expect to be undertaking significant community engagement work, either in developing their core strategy or delivering high levels of new housing, and who have already identified community empowerment as a priority for their overall performance.

A copy of the consultation document has been placed in the House Library and is available on the Communities and Local Government website at:

Northern Ireland

Probation Board for Northern Ireland (Business Plan 2009-10)

The Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office (Paul Goggins): I have today published the “Probation Board for Northern Ireland Business Plan for 2009-10”. The plan sets out the board’s key objectives and performance targets for the coming year.

Copies have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Work and Pensions

Agency Targets and Business Plans

The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (James Purnell): I am today able to announce the annual performance targets for 2009-10 for the two executive agencies of the Department for Work and Pensions. The targets I have agreed are set out.

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Further information on the plans of Jobcentre Plus and the Pension, Disability and Carers Service in 2009-10 is contained in their individual “Business Plans” which have been published today. Copies have been placed in the Library.

Jobcentre Plus (2009-10 Targets)

Job Outcome Target (million points)

To achieve a total points score of 9 million based on our priority customer groups.

Interventions Delivery Target

To make sure that specified Jobcentre Plus labour market interventions take place within set timescales in 85% of cases checked.

Employer Engagement Target

At least 92% of employers placing their vacancies with Jobcentre Plus will have a positive outcome.

Customer Service Target

To achieve an 86% customer service level in the delivery of the standards set out in the Customer and Employers Charters.

Fraud and Error

To play a key role to prevent and detect overpayments and underpayments of benefit consistent with the Department’s aspiration to reduce total overpaid expenditure across all benefits to 1.8% and underpaid expenditure to 0.7% by March 2011.

The target is supported by a suite of non-published measures of activities to pay our customers the right benefit at the right time.

Average Actual Clearance Times Tartet(1)

To process claims within specified Average Actual Clearance Times:

Jobseeker’s Allowance

11.5 days

Income Support

10 days

(1)A shadow target for Employment and Support Allowance is under development and will be monitored closely during 2009-10 to inform target-setting for 2010-11.

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Pension , Disability and Carers Service (2009-10 Targets)

Benefit take-up

To deliver at least 255,000 successful new Pension Credit applications.


Pension Credit financial accuracy of new claims and changes of circumstance: 93% first half year; 94% second half year.

State Pension financial accuracy of new claims and changes of circumstance: 98%.

Financial accuracy of Carers Allowance: 98%.

Accuracy of decisions for Disability Living Allowance (DLA): 94%.

Accuracy of decisions for Attendance Allowance (AA): 94%.

New Claims Clearance Times

Clear new applications for Pension Credit (measured from date all evidence is received) within an average of 15 days.

Clear 95% of new claims for State Pension within 60 days.

Clear new claims for Disability Living Allowance within an average of 38 days.

Clear new claims for Attendance Allowance within an average of 16 days.

Clear new claims for Carer’s Allowance within an average of 13.5 days.

Fraud and Error

Reduce the proportion of benefit overpaid due to fraud and error in Pension Credit to 4.5% by March 2011.


At least 93% of calls to be answered by an adviser.

Less than 1% of calls receiving an engaged /busy tone.

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