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Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what recent estimate his Department has made of the number of local authorities whose expenditure on free bus travel has exceeded the value of central Government funding for such travel. 
Formula grant, which comprises revenue support grant, redistributed business rates and principal formula police grant where appropriate, is largely distributed using the socio-economic and demographic characteristics of the authority, together with the number of band D equivalent properties within the authority's area. We apply the same formula to all authorities that provide the same services and we also use the best data that are available on a consistent basis across all authorities. We then ensure that every authority receives at least a minimum percentage increase year-on-year (the 'floor') on a like-for-like basis i.e. after adjusting for changes in funding and function. In order to pay for the cost of the floor, we scale back the increase above the floor for all other authorities.
Within formula grant, there is no specific formula for concessionary fares. It is an unhypothecated block grant i.e. authorities are free to spend the money on any service, provided they meet their statutory duties. For this reason, and due to the method of calculating formula grant, particularly floor damping, it is not possible to say how much grant has been provided for any particular service.
From 2008-09, following the change to national free travel for concessionaires, concessionary travel authorities additionally receive a share of the £212 million concessionary fares special grant from the Department for Transport.
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much funding from (a) revenue support, (b) capital grant and (c) supported borrowing was provided by central Government to (i) East Sussex County Council, (ii) Lewes District Council and (iii) Wealden District Council in (A) 2007-08 and (B) 2008-09. 
Barbara Follett: The following table provides the amount of formula grant, which is made up of Revenue Support Grant and redistributed business rates for non-police authorities, for each of the authorities requested. Formula grant is an unhypothecated block grant. This means that authorities are free to spend the money on any service provided that they meet their statutory duties.
|Local authority||Prior years adjusted formula grant (£ million)||Current year's formula grant (£ million)||Change (£ million)||Percentage change|
Supported borrowing or Supported Capital Expenditure (Revenue) is supported through formula grant. Since formula grant is an unhypothecated block grant, and due to the calculations of formula grant, particularly floor damping, it is not possible to say how much grant has been provided for the support of capital expenditure.
Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much and what proportion of the deposits of each local authority in Icelandic banks have been refunded; when he expects further such repayments to be made; and what his most recent estimate is of the monetary value of (a) deposits that will not be refunded and (b) interest on such deposits. 
Barbara Follett: The Resolution Committee for Landsbanki and Glitnir and the UK administrators of Heritable and Kaupthing, Singer and Friedland Ltd. have published information on likely rates of return and when they expect repayments to be made. Local authorities are in direct contact with these administrators. Reports suggest that the second tranche of repayments for Heritable and Kaupthing, Singer and Friedland Ltd. were made in December 2009.
Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether his Department issues guidance to local authorities on funding for their own television (a) channels and (b) programmes. 
Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what information his Department holds on the level of (a) salary, (b) car mileage allowance and (c) other allowances of the (i) chief executive, (ii) assistant chief executives and (iii) deputy chief executives of each county council in the North West. 
Barbara Follett: The pay of local authority chief executives is a matter for each local authority as the employer. The local authority can have regard to guidance issued by the Joint Negotiating Committee for Local Authority Chief Executives: 'National Salary Framework and Conditions of Service Handbook, September 2009'.
Barbara Follett: The Government will continue to ensure that the Local Government Pension Scheme in England and Wales remains affordable, viable and fair to taxpayers while providing decent pensions for its members. Working closely with all scheme stakeholders, we will be taking forward the announcement made in the pre-Budget report about the savings to be made by public service pension schemes, including the LGPS, from 2012-13 onwards.
Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the cost to the public purse was of employers' contributions to the Local Government Pension scheme in each year since 1997-98. 
Barbara Follett: The information requested is shown in the following table. These figures represent the actual amount of contributions paid by employers participating in the Local Government Pension scheme based on the Local Government Pension Fund (SF3) annual returns submitted to Communities and Local Government by scheme administering authorities in England.
|England (£ million)|
Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what (a) items of statistical data and (b) regular reports local authority pension funds provide to his Department. 
Barbara Follett: A copy of the local government pension fund (SF3) annual return (and its associated guidance notes) that is used to collect statistical data from Local Government Pension scheme administering authorities can be found on the Communities and Local Government website at:
Local Government Pension scheme administering authorities are required under the scheme's regulations to submit to the Secretary of State copies of their statement of investment principles, governance compliance statements and triennial fund valuation reports. On a voluntary basis, pension fund annual reports and funding strategy statements are also submitted to the Department.
Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether his Department collects information from local spending reports on expenditure by local authorities on publicity for their services. 
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether he plans to implement the proposal in his Department's Communities in Control White Paper on reducing the (a) petition threshold for mayoral referendums to two per cent. and (b) time between referendums from 10 to four years. 
Barbara Follett: The Government's Communities in Control White Paper proposed that a consultation should be held on reducing the petition threshold for mayoral referendums-perhaps to 2, 3 or 4 per cent. Our consultation paper "Changing Council Governance Arrangements, Mayors and Indirectly Elected Leaders" invited comments on these proposals by March 2009, and also sought views on the proposal to reduce the time between referendums from 10 to four years where the first one had resulted in no change to governance arrangements. Responses to the consultation showed little support for any of these changes and, having carefully considered all of the comments received, we will be publishing our formal response.
John Healey: The timetable for publication of draft and final National Policy Statements is set out in the Route Map for implementation of the Infrastructure Planning Commission regime. An updated Route Map was published on the Department for Communities and Local Government website on 15 December. A copy is available in the Library.
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what proportion of eligible businesses of each rateable value he expects to claim small business rate relief in (a) 2009-10 and (b) 2010-11. 
Barbara Follett: Local authorities reported there were 392,000 businesses in England in receipt of small business rate relief (SBRR) as at 31 December 2006, the only year for which this information is currently available. A recent estimate of the take-up of small business rate relief based on this information is available on the CLG website at:
We estimate that around 575,000 small businesses are eligible for SBRR and that 68 per cent. of these (392,000) were claiming SBRR on 31 December 2006. We further estimate that about 92 per cent. of the total relief that would be granted if all 575,000 businesses claimed it was actually paid out in 2008-09.
Information on the number of businesses expected to claim small business rate relief in 2009-10 and 2010-11 is not currently available. Data on the rateable value of businesses claiming small business rate relief are not collected by local authorities.
We agree that it is important to make it as easy as possible for eligible small businesses to access the relief. We took action in 2008 to remove the requirement for claimants to re-apply each year, so that a small business only has to apply once in each revaluation period. On 18 September 2009 we announced that we would remove the requirement to re-apply for SBRR at revaluation in 2010, a move which has been welcomed by the FSB. The legislation to remove the requirement is contained in the Non-Domestic Rating (Small Business Rate Relief) (England) (Amendment) (No. 2) Order 2009 which was laid before the House on 9 December.
We understand concerns to ensure that every eligible small business receives the relief by making it wholly automatic, with no requirement to fill in an application form. Unfortunately neither we nor local authorities hold the necessary data to determine which ratepayers are eligible. Automating SBRR would require us to
change the eligibility criteria-meaning that large chains could benefit, and that the supplement paid by other businesses to fund the relief would increase.
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government with reference to the answer to the hon. Member for Putney (Justine Greening) of 10 November 2009, Official Report, column 283W, on non-domestic rates: valuation, how many hereditaments in each billing authority or closest administrative unit there are in each special category code on the draft 2010 Rating List. 
Barbara Follett: I have placed in the Library of the House a table showing the number of hereditaments for England broken down by the full alphanumeric special category code and billing authority on the draft 2010 Rating Lists as at 2 November 2009. These data are consistent with the statistical release titled: "Non-domestic rateable values: 2010 Local Ratings Lists-England and Wales" published on 18 December 2009. A copy of this statistical release is available at the following link:
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