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23 Mar 2010 : Column 270W—continued


23 Mar 2010 : Column 271W

Green Belt

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Peterborough of 2 March 2010, Official Report, column 1139W, on the green belt, in respect of which broad locations each regional spatial strategy recommends a review of green belt designation. [323996]

Mr. Ian Austin: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave her on 13 October 2009, Official Report, columns 1318-20W.

Home Information Packs

Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 3 February 2010, Official Report, column 359W, on home information packs, if he will place in the Library a copy of the final report of the working group on condition information in the home buying and selling process. [319010]

Mr. Ian Austin: We will place a copy of the final report of the working group on condition information in the home buying and selling process in the Library in due course.

Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 22 February 2010, Official Report, column 269W, on home information packs, on what date the final report of the working group on condition information in the home buying and selling process was submitted to his Department; and when he plans to publish his response to that report. [319828]

Mr. Ian Austin [holding answer 1 March 2010]: The final report of the working group on condition information in the home buying and selling process was submitted to the Department on 17 December 2009. We will set out our response in due course.

Housing: Conferences

Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much was spent by the Homes and Communities Agency on (a) travel and (b) accommodation for employees attending the MIPIM international property conference in (i) 2008 and (ii) 2009. [323247]


23 Mar 2010 : Column 272W

Barbara Follett: The Homes and Communities Agency was formed on 1 December2008 and did not therefore attend the 2008 MIPIM conference. In 2009 the agency spent £2,983 on travel and £29,321 on accommodation.

Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many employees of the Homes and Communities Agency attended the MIPIM international property conference in (a) 2008 and (b) 2009. [323257]

Barbara Follett: HCA was formed on 1 December 2008 and did not attend the MIPIM conference in that year. Seven members of HCA staff attended the MIPIM conference in 2009.

Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much he expects his Department to spend on (a) travel and (b) accommodation for (i) Ministers and (ii) officials attending the MIPIM international property conference in March 2010. [323258]

Barbara Follett: No departmental Ministers or officials are attending the MIPIM conference in March 2010.

Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many (a) Ministers and (b) officials of his Department expect to attend the MIPIM international property conference in March 2010. [323259]

Barbara Follett: None.

Housing: Construction

Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many and what percentage of new (a) affordable and (b) social homes were built to Code Level (i) 1, (ii) 2, (iii) 3, (iv) 4, (v) 5 and (vi) 6 in each of the last three years. [315992]

Mr. Ian Austin: It is not possible to identify affordable and social homes separately.

Under the NAHP, achievement of Level 3 of the Code for Sustainable Homes (the Code) became a required standard for bids for funding to be allocated from April 2008. Homes built in 2006-07 and 2007-08 were therefore largely completed before the Code became a funding requirement. During this time, EcoHomes was the applicable standard. The following table shows the number of schemes meeting the EcoHomes standard in the last three years.

2008-09 2007-08 2006-07
ECO Homes certification Total completions Percentage of total completions Total completions Percentage of total completions Total completions Percentage of total completions

Pass

1,133

2.41

1,544

3.40

3,371

9.28

Good

6,286

13.36

9,003

19.80

13,296

36.62

Very good

25,610

54.43

20,188

44.41

6,623

18.24

Excellent

1,176

2.50

674

1.48

366

1.01

Total completions

47,049

-

45,462

-

36,308

-


23 Mar 2010 : Column 273W

Housing: Regeneration

Dr. Stoate: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what progress has been made by the Home and Communities Agency in its Single Conversation process in north Kent; and if he will make a statement. [323058]

John Healey: The Local Investment Plan (LIP) for North Kent arising from the Single Conversation is due to be finalised by the end of March. It will then be considered by the Thames Gateway Kent Leaders Board. Further information, can be obtained from the Homes and Communities Agency's south-east regional office.

Local Authority Business Growth Incentive Scheme

Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much his Department has allocated to the local authority business growth incentive scheme in each year to date; and whether he expects the scheme to continue after 2010-11. [323308]

Barbara Follett: For the period 2005-06 to 2007-08, £1 billion was allocated to LABGI: £935 million to England and £65 million to Wales. The National Assembly for Wales has been responsible for distribution of its LABGI allocation.

In England, the Government have given the following total sums in LABGI grants each year:

£

2005-06

115,455,797

2006-07

328,003,805

2007-08

92,152,517

2008-09

396,194,175

2009-10

50,000,000


The Government have recently indicated that they intend to distribute LABGI grant totalling £50 million in 2010-11.

Decisions about the future of LABGI will be taken as part of the next spending review.

Local Government Finance

Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much funding his Department applocated per capita to each local authority in England in (a) 2009 real terms prices and (b) cash terms in each year since 1997. [323306]

Barbara Follett: The Public Expenditure Statistical Analyses published at

by HM Treasury show central Government grants to local government. The outturn figures are analysed between Departments but not between local authorities. The level of data analysis requested is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost

Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if he will direct the Audit Commission not to incur expenditure on lobbying activity against proposals to abolish comprehensive area assessments. [323627]


23 Mar 2010 : Column 274W

Ms Rosie Winterton: The Department's Accounting Officer has already written to all the Department's executive public bodies, including the Audit Commission, to remind them of their obligations when appointing public relations or other consultants, including that it will always be an improper use of public funds for NDPBs to employ PR or other consultants to lobby parliament or Government Departments in an attempt to influence Government policy or obtain higher funding. A copy of that letter has been placed in the Library of the House.

Local Government: Bank Services

Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government which local authorities have had requests to capitalise Icelandic banking losses refused; and what the grounds for refusal were in each case. [323156]

Barbara Follett: The list of authorities who applied for capitalisation in 2009-10 on the grounds of exceptional financial difficulties and whose applications were refused is available on the Department's public website at:

It is for each authority to determine whether they wish to indicate the precise circumstances which led them to make an application under the exceptional financial difficulties category.

In each case, the application was refused because it did not meet the criteria for exceptional financial difficulties contained within the guidance to authorities. This is available on the Department's public website at:

Local Government: Standards

Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government with reference to the speech of the Minister for Local Government and Community Cohesion of 28 February 2006, on driving improvement: beyond CPA, what steps his Department has taken to implement double devolution since February 2006. [323228]

Ms Rosie Winterton: Since the then Minister for Local Government and Community Cohesion delivered his speech in February 2006, the Department for Communities and Local Government has published two White Papers and passed two major pieces of legislation, the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007 and the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act 2009 which clearly demonstrate the actions taken to implement "double devolution". A key element of this work has been the introduction in 2008 of the new local performance framework, which aimed to lessen the burden and bureaucracy of assessment on local government, by reducing the number of performance indicators on which councils are measured from around 1,200 to 188-and replacing the old Comprehensive Performance Assessment with the new, lighter touch Comprehensive Area Assessment in April last year. We have already reduced the number of inspection days in councils by a third, while the cost of the independent inspection has been reduced by 30 per cent.


23 Mar 2010 : Column 275W

We have also increased financial freedom and stability to local government through the first ever three-year finance settlement, reduced ring-fencing, and devolved powers to local authorities, enabling them to create parish councils, make and enforce certain byelaws and increasing their choice in democratic processes such as electoral schemes and leadership style. We have strengthened the opportunity for local people to take action for themselves, promoting the transfer of assets from local government to local people where these could be better run for community benefits, and introducing community contracts, where residents and local agencies agree on the priorities for their area and the action both will take to achieve them. We have funded the Participatory Budgeting Unit to support local authorities in activities to involve local people in prioritising specified budgets and have increased councillors' powers to raise issues up the agenda of the local authority by introducing the Councillor Call for Action, which enables any councillor to refer an issue to the overview and scrutiny committee. We have also recently passed legislation that will give citizens greater power to hold local authorities to account and influence local services. This includes a new duty for local authorities to respond to petitions from local people; and the extension of scrutiny arrangements, enabling local people, through their councillors, to influence decisions which affect their day to day lives and give them more say over what their council is doing for them and complementing measures to increase engagement and empowerment in key local services.

The "Strengthening Local Democracy" public consultation last July, and our response published on 5 February, affirms our continuing commitment to principles of devolution at all levels. In addition, "Putting the Front-line first: Smarter Government" published on 9 December sets out how Government will meet new challenges and deliver better public services for lower costs by: driving up standards through strengthening the roles of citizens and civic society; freeing up public services by recasting the relationship between the centre and the front-line and streamlining central Government, saving money through sharper delivery.

Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much his Department has allocated to local authorities in performance reward grants in each year to date; and how much such funding has been allocated for (a) 2010-11, (b) 2011-12 and (c) 2012-13. [323302]

Barbara Follett: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave him on 1 March 2010, Official Report, column 961W. As part of the comprehensive spending review 2007 £340 million was allocated to the current round of performance reward grant funding.

This Department has published guidance on the operation of the reward scheme; it is available on the Department's website:


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