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|Management and maintenance allowances (M and M)|
Rother transferred its housing stock in 1998-99.
Mr. Ian Austin: In our consultation paper in July, we proposed to end the central pooling of housing capital receipts, so that councils can reinvest these as part of our proposals to move to a self-financing system. Since then we have met with a number of interested stakeholders including local authorities and tenant associations. We plan to make a further announcement in the next few weeks which will describe the progress we have made on self-financing, set-out more details on the proposals and provide a summary of responses to the consultation.
Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether his Department has issued guidance to local authorities on the use of charging orders to collect unpaid council tax. 
Barbara Follett: In 1993 the Department of the Environment published a number of Practice Notes to assist local authorities in implementing council tax. Practice Note No. 9 provided non-statutory guidance on the recovery and enforcement of council tax, including the use of charging orders.
The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister jointly published, with the Government Operational Research Service, a Council Tax Collection Good Practice Report in 2004. The report looked at ways of sharing good practice among practitioners, in order to promote
continuous improvement in service delivery and collection. Annexe D of the report covers the use of charging orders.
Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what guidance (a) his Department, (b) the Audit Commission and (c) the Standards Board for England has issued on whether the whistleblowing protection provisions of the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 apply to councillors in their capacity as a member of the local authority in which they wish to disclose confidential information in the public interest. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: Neither this Department, the Audit Commission, nor the Standards Board have issued specific guidance for local authority members about the whistleblowing protection provisions of the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998.
Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the cost was of the investigation of the Standards Board for England relating to six councillors on the Isle of Wight in respect of (a) the tribunal hearing and (b) all other costs. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: Following the transfer of the administration of the First-tier Tribunal (Local Government Standards in England) to the Tribunals Service last year, costs related to tribunal proceedings are a matter for the Ministry of Justice.
The cost to the Standards Board of the investigation into the six cases and presentation of four of the cases at tribunal, which led to all four councillors being found in breach of the councillors' code of conduct and the tribunal imposing sanctions ranging from censure to a two year suspension, is estimated at £328,000.
Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what estimate he has made of the average length of time taken by (a) his Department and (b) its agencies to pay invoices from (i) small and medium-sized enterprises and (ii) all creditors in the last 12 months. 
Barbara Follett: The Prime Minister announced in October 2008 that all central Government Departments would aim to pay invoices within 10 days. Communities and Local Government commenced reporting of 10 day payment performance in November 2008.
In November 2008, 77.89 per cent. of invoices were paid within 10 days. The latest available data are for December 2009, when 92.91 per cent. of invoices were paid within 10 days. This means that payment performance has increased by 15.02 per cent. points over this period.
Mr. Hurd: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many staff in his Department and its agencies (a) have the status of embedded communicators and (b) are members of the Government Communications Network but are not listed in the Central Office of Information White Book. 
Barbara Follett: Embedded communicator is not an officially designated term in the Department so there is no clear definition of who would meet the criteria. However I can confirm that eight members of staff at the Department are members of the Government Communications Network working full-time on communications outside of the Communications Directorate and not listed in the Central Office of Information White Book.
Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government with reference to his Department's press release of 6 January 2010, on new faith advisers, what declaration of political activity was made by each adviser he has appointed; and how many advisers have declared membership of a political party. 
Margaret Moran: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much (a) his Department and (b) local authorities have paid to each external consultant contracted to undertake public consultations in each of the last five years. 
Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much area-based grant was allocated in respect of waste collection and waste disposal in the most recent year for which figures are available; what proportion of the total area-based grant this represented; and what targets and performance indicators there are for local authorities in respect of such funding. 
Ms Rosie Winterton:
Area Based Grant (ABG) is an unringfenced grant and there are no separate allocations for specific purposes. Government funding for local authorities' responsibilities for waste collection and disposal is, in the main, provided through Formula Grant which
comprises Revenue Support Grant and National Non- Domestic Rates. Formula Grant is also unhypothecated, and the use of this funding is, like ABG, for local authorities to determine.
Mr. Soames: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what estimate he has made of the number of empty (a) residential and (b) commercial properties in (i) Mid Sussex constituency and (ii) Mid Sussex local authority area in the last five years. 
The Department is planning to publish experimental official statistics in February on the number of hereditaments benefiting from small business rate relief and the number of empty hereditaments. This statistical release will provide a national estimate for the number of empty non-domestic properties in England.
Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what guidance his Department has issued to local authorities on whether reductions in the number of (a) fire stations, (b) fire appliances and (c) fire-fighters may be classified as efficiency savings for the purposes of (i) annual efficiency statements to his Department and (ii) calculating the value of efficiency savings on council tax bills. 
Mr. Malik: The Department has issued efficiency guidance to fire and rescue authorities and I have arranged for a copy to be placed in the Library of the House. In order to be considered an efficiency gain, all savings must be sustainable and subject to a quality cross-check measure to ensure services to communities are as, or more, effective following implementation of the efficiency measure. A sustainable efficiency gain is "an efficiency gain which exists for the current year and at least two subsequent financial years afterwards". Efficiency savings are reported by fire and rescue authorities in their annual efficiency statements. Since 2008-09 local authority and fire and rescue authority efficiency savings have been published on the billing authority's council tax demand.
Mr. Greg Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) how many combined aerial rescue pump vehicles have been purchased by the fire and rescue service in (a) South Yorkshire and (b) East Yorkshire and Humberside in the last five years; at what cost those purchases were made; and who authorised those purchases; 
(2) how many combined aerial rescue pump vehicles in (a) South Yorkshire and (b) East Yorkshire and Humberside are not in use by fire and rescue services; and for what reasons those vehicles are not in use. 
Mr. Malik [holding answer 4 February 2010]: The procurement of equipment is a matter for individual fire and rescue authorities to decide on and authorise. The Department does not maintain information on individual FRS procurements.
Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government with reference to the answer to the hon. Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Robert Neill) of 15 June 2009, Official Report, column 18W, on departmental procurement, if he will place in the Library a copy of the list of the names and addresses of each organisation that supplied goods or services to the Government Office for (a) the South West, (b) the South East, (c) London, (d) the West Midlands, (e) the East Midlands, (f) the East of England, (g) the North East, (h) the North West and (i) Yorkshire and the Humber in 2008-09. 
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