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Local Government: Inspections

Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether he has made an assessment of the effects of Comprehensive Area Assessment regime on the level of inspection and assessment of local authorities; and what estimate was made of the (a) cost of and (b) savings likely to be generated by that regime prior to its introduction. [324504]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The Audit Commission, on behalf of the joint inspectorates responsible for the Comprehensive Area Assessment (CAA), commissioned two independent evaluation reports of the implementation and costs of the first year of the CAA. The reports were published on 17 March 2010 by Shared Intelligence and the Office for Public Management (OPM) respectively. The Shared Intelligence report demonstrates widespread support for the CAA and the move to a more risk-based approach to assessment and inspection. The OPM report indicates that the costs to councils of CAA are lower than they were for CPA by at least 15 per cent.- approximately £4 million. However, the report explains that this is a conservative estimate and the actual reduction is likely to be greater, up to £19 million. There is great variation in the costs which reflect the choices councils make about how much to spend preparing for and responding to inspection. A further 10 per cent. savings reduction is expected from one-off costs of preparation by councils in the first year of the CAA.

As part of this Department's regulatory impact assessment (RIA) of the Local Government White Paper published in 2006, we estimated costs and savings to be made from the introduction of the new CAA regime of approximately £7 million and £23 million respectively, a net reduction of £16 million.

As announced in the Smarter Government Budget progress update, Government are committed to a measurable reduction in the costs of compliance with assessment and inspection for public services. We will also continue to look at how to make assessment and inspection more effective and streamlined.

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Local Government: Pay

Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if he will bring forward proposals to require local authorities to publish the name, title and full remuneration package of each local authority employee earning over £60,000. [324507]

Barbara Follett: New regulations, which come into force on 31 March 2010, amending the Accounts and Audit Regulations 2003 (S.I. 2003 No. 533), will improve the transparency of reporting the remuneration of senior officers in public bodies, including local authorities.

Local authorities will be required to disclose, within their Statement of Annual Accounts, details of the number of staff in receipt of salaries over £50,000, in bandings of £5,000. In addition, these regulations will also require local authority employers to disclose detailed remuneration information, by title, for those officers holding senior positions equivalent to board level, and to name all employees in receipt of salaries over £150,000.

Local Government: Pensions

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Peterborough of 16 December 2009, Official Report, columns 1291-2W, on local government: pensions, what the cash value was of the payment made to local authorities to compensate for the effects of the abolition of advanced corporation tax relief on the Local Government Pension Scheme in each year since 1998; and what measure of inflation has been used to index such funding. [324008]

Barbara Follett: The financial impact of the abolition of advanced corporation tax relief on local authority pension schemes was fully assessed by all the relevant parties, including the Local Government Association and each pension fund authority at the time of abolition and it was found to be £130 million. The spending plans for local government provided in each successive spending review have taken into account factors like the pressures authorities face, along with the scope for efficiency savings.

The Government have provided significant investment in local government with a 45 per cent. real terms increase in funding between 1997 and 2010-11.

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what estimate he has made of the likely effect of the March 2010 revaluation on the level of employer contributions to the Local Government Pension Scheme from March 2011. [324013]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The Local Government Pension Scheme is kept under review to ensure its ongoing affordability and fairness to taxpayers.

The level of employers' contributions to apply from March 2011 will be set later this year by each of the 89 individual pension fund authorities in England and Wales in conjunction with their fund actuaries following the Scheme actuarial valuation as at 31 March 2010. Contribution rates for participating employers will be set at a level to achieve affordability and satisfy the Scheme's regulatory requirement for solvency.

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The Scheme's regulatory provision also require employers' rates to be set at as constant a rate as possible to help participating employers plan and implement their budgets.

Low Incomes

Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many and what proportion of (a) pensioners and (b) children were living in income-deprived households in each (i) local authority and (ii) constituency according to the most recent indices of multiple deprivation data. [324615]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The English indices of deprivation have, since 2004, been produced at lower level super output area (LSOA) level. LSOAs are smaller than constituencies and are designed to remain consistent in size, and over time, to allow more detailed identification of pockets of deprivation. This also overcomes difficulties in producing statistics for electoral wards and parliamentary constituencies which are associated with frequent boundary changes. There are 32,482 LSOAs in England with an average population of 1,500 people.

The income deprivation affecting children index (IDACI) and the income deprivation affecting older people index (IDAOPI) were also produced for each LSOA in England. These can be downloaded from the CLG website:

Summary measures for larger areas, such as local authority districts or parliamentary constituencies, are not produced for the IDACI and IDAOPI.

Non-domestic Rates

Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many and what proportion of eligible firms claimed small business rate relief in each local authority billing area in the latest period for which figures are available. [324506]

Barbara Follett: The Department's report 'Small Business Rate Relief-improving evidence on eligibility and take-up' was published on December 9 2009. It estimates that, of the approximately 1.2 million non-domestic properties in England which fall below the current rateable value (RV) thresholds for SBRR, around 575,000 are occupied by eligible small businesses. This report has been validated by an independent peer review and is available at:

The methodology used in the report only applies to England as a whole. Therefore, it is not possible to estimate the proportion of eligible firms claiming SBRR in each local authority.

However, new experimental statistics on the number of hereditaments in England claiming SBRR published on the Communities and Local Government website on 252 February 2010, show that 462,000 of them were benefiting from SBRR on 31 December 2008.

By applying that figure to the eligibility estimates made for the 2005 rating list it is estimated that around 80 per cent. of eligible hereditaments in England were claiming SBRR in 2008-09-see table 1.

Relief granted to small businesses has been increasing since SBRR was introduced-from £202 million in 2005-06 to £298 million in 2008-09. This represents a
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real terms increase of 34 per cent. Furthermore in 2008-09, 92 per cent. of the total relief that would be paid if all those estimated to be eligible were to claim, was actually being paid-see table 2.

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This statistical release is available at:

Table 1: Take-up of SBRR-numbers claiming

2006-07 2007-08 2008-09

Number of hereditaments actually claiming SBRR (thousand)




Number of hereditaments estimated to be occupied by eligible small businesses (thousand)




Percentage of estimated eligible actually claiming




Table 2: Take-up of SBRR 2005-06 to 2008-09-relief

2005-06 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09

Total relief that would be paid out if all properties estimated to be occupied by eligible small businesses were to claim(1) (£ million)

Relief actually claimed (£ million)





Percentage take-up(2)





(1) For details of how this estimate was derived please see the report 'Small business rate relief-improving evidence on eligibility and take-up: Methodology'.
(2) Percentage of total relief, which would be paid if all eligible small businesses claimed it, that was actually paid.

Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether business rate bills for 2005-10 will be subject to transitional relief. [324510]

Barbara Follett: In 2005 the Government implemented a transitional relief scheme to protect ratepayers from large increases in business rates due to the 2005 revaluation. The 2005 transitional relief scheme ran until 31 March 2009.

Non-domestic Rates: Ports

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if he will bring forward proposals to ensure that fast track and other rating reassessments on port companies which are not completed until after the start of financial year 2010-11 do not include liability for retrospective charges to 2005. [324134]

Barbara Follett: The effective date of alterations to the Rating List is governed by the Non-Domestic Rating (Alteration of Lists and Appeals) (England) Regulations 2009. Where there is a difference between the day a Rating List is altered and the effective date of the alteration, a backdated liability will accrue. The Government do not currently have any plans to amend these regulations.

The review of ports by the Valuation Office Agency was carried out to ensure that all individual business properties within and outside ports were rated fairly to ensure that the burden of contributions to funding local government is shared equitably between businesses around the country.

The Government has listened to the concerns of businesses with significant and unexpected backdated bills, including some within the ports. It has legislated to enable such bills to be repaid over an unprecedented eight years rather than in a single instalment, helping affected businesses to manage the impact on their cash flow during the downturn by reducing the amount they are required to pay now by 87.5 per cent.

Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government when the Valuation Office Agency (a) received an application for and (b) made a decision on the fast-track reassessment of Scotline. [324512]

Barbara Follett: We are unable to comment on individual cases but the Valuation Office Agency is working with ratepayers, or their representatives, to resolve appeals relating to ports under the fast-track arrangements.

Parish Councils: Council Tax

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the average level of parish council precepts on council tax was in 2009-10; and what estimate he has made of that level in 2010-11. [324020]

Barbara Follett: The average level of parish council precepts on council tax in England in 2008-09, the latest date for which an estimate has been made, is £45. This figure is published in Table A3b of 'Local Government Financial Statistics No. 19 2009', a copy of which is available in the Library of the House or on the Communities and Local Government website.

The estimate for 2009-10 will be published in 'Local Government Financial Statistics No. 20 2010' in June 2010. No date has been set for the publishing of the estimate for 2010-11.

Social Rented Housing: Construction

Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many homes were (a) built and (b) purchased by landlords for social rent in each year since 1997. [323185]

Mr. Ian Austin: Information showing additional new build and acquired affordable homes, including homes for social rent, can be found in Live Table 1009 on the Communities and Local Government website at the following link:

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Wolverhampton City Council

Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if he will place in the Library a copy of the Audit Commission's best value inspection report of March 2005 on Wolverhampton City Council. [324500]

Ms Rosie Winterton: This is an operational matter for the Audit Commission and I have asked the chief executive of the Audit Commission to write to the hon. Member direct.

Letter from Gareth Davies, dated 29 March 2010:

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Written Questions: Government Responses

Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government when he plans to answer question 306633, on weekly rent, tabled on 8 December 2009. [319593]

Mr. Ian Austin: I have now replied to the hon. Member's question.

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