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Connexions System

Baroness Blatch asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Ashton of Upholland: Connexions partnerships will generally advertise the existence of the Connexions service within their locality. In addition, through the partnership agreement, partnerships will work with schools, colleges and other appropriate institutions to make the availability of the Connexions service known to parents and their sons and daughters; letting them know that it is available to young people both within their school or institution and via Connexions one stop shops in the high street. Connexions personal advisers also strongly encourage young people to discuss any Connexions support with their parents but respect the right of the young person not to do so.

Partnerships are not obliged to notify parents that their child is actively involved with Connexions—either in one-to-one sessions with a personal adviser or through more general group sessions. The exception to this may be if the personal adviser is working with a young person in a school where it has been agreed that the school's confidentiality policy is followed, which may give the parents the right to know this information.

All information sharing policies drawn up by Connexions partnerhips must be in accordance with the Data Protection Act and other relevant legislation.

Baroness Blatch asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Ashton of Upholland: Connexions personal advisers are drawn from a range of professional backgrounds. To be fully qualified they must possess an NVQ level 4 or equivalent in a relevant professional discipline (eg careers youth work, social work) and have attended a bespoke training programme, either Understanding Connexions or the Diploma for

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Connexions Personal Advisers. Training is delivered by higher education institutions approved by the Connexions service national unit.

Baroness Blatch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many mentors under the Connexions system are in post; and how many of them have been subject to a Criminal Records Bureau check.[HL1668]

Baroness Ashton of Upholland: The latest management information collected from partnerships shows that at the end of December 2002 there were just over 6,000 Connexions personal advisers in post.

Before being allowed any direct contact with young people, all personal advisers must, as a minimum, have been List 99 cleared (a DfES maintained list of people whose employment working with young people has been barred or restricted by the Secretary of State).

Partnerships must also carry out Criminal Records Bureau checks on personal advisers. However, List 99 provides robust clearance on child protection issues while the CRB check is undertaken.

The financial memorandum of Connexions partnerships requires Connexions partnerships to take all reasonable precautions to avoid employing any person convicted of a criminal offence involving an offence against the person, or an offence involving sexual behaviour, except with the prior written consent of the Secretary of State. Where the CRB check reveals other such criminal convictions, it is up to the partnership to decide if it wishes to obtain this consent.

Local Authority Housing Stock: Reletting

Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by Mr McNulty, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, on 30 January (HC Deb, 789W), why the only region that shows an improvement in the relet times for local authority dwellings between 1993–94 and 2001–02 is London; why there has been a 22 per cent average increase in reletting times across all local authorities in England (including London); and why there has been an average increase in reletting times across all rural authorities of 63 per cent; and[HL1506]

    Further to the Written Answer by Mr McNulty, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, on 30 January (HC Deb, 791W), why improvements in relet times for registered social landlord dwellings between 1996–97 and 2001–02 have been achieved only by the South East region; why there has been an average increase in relet times across all local authorities in England of 24 per cent; and why there has been an average increase in relet times across all rural authorities of 38 per cent.[HL1507]

The Minister of State, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (Lord Rooker): We are extremely gratified that local authorities in London have shown a marked improvement between 1993–94 and 2001–02 in the average time it takes to relet their dwellings; and that

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registered social landlords have shown an improvement in average relet times across the South East between 1996–97 and 2001–02.

The figures quoted for the average time taken to relet local authority housing stock should be treated with caution, however. These figures are based on estimates provided by local autorities as part of their annual housing investment programme returns and there are likely to be variations in the way local authorities maintain their lettings records and compile these estimates.

One factor contributing to the increase in average relet times is likely to be the impact of low demand on housing, since the largest increases are in the regions which are experiencing the most acute level of low demand—North West, North East, Yorkshire and Humberside and West Midlands. In these regions we are tackling the problem head on through the establishment of nine sub-regional pathfinder projects to address the most acute problems of low demand. We have recently announced in Sustainable Communities: Building for the future an additional investment of £500 million in the next three years for these pathfinder projects. An important part of returning these areas to sustainability is ensuring that there is a better balance between supply and demand for housing across all tenures (including the social housing stock).

The Government are committed to the adoption by local authorities of customer-focused, choice-based lettings policies. We believe that this is the best way to ensure sustainable lettings and stable and viable communities. We are funding a pilot scheme to test different choice-based lettings approaches and are monitoring their effect on relet times as part of the evaluation of the pilot scheme.

Starter Home Initiative

Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    (a) which organisations were successful in bidding for a part of the starter home initiative funds of £250 million announced in April 2000; (b) how many homes have been built so far; (c) how many of those are in rural areas; (d) what proportion of the total build has used hitherto empty homes; and (e) what proportion of the total has been built on brownfield sites.[HL1638]

Lord Rooker: The list of successful bidders for starter home initiative funding is set out below: Airways Housing Group Aldwyck Housing Association Angevin Specialist Homes Apex Housing Group Beacon Housing Association Bedfordshire Pilgrims Housing Association Boleyn & Forest Housing Association

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Bristol City Council and South Gloucestershire District Council in conjunction with Knightstone and Sovereign Housing Associations Bromford Housing Group Bush Housing Association Cambridgeshire Employers' Consortium in conjunction with Bedfordshire Pilgrims Housing Association (the HA will manage the scheme) Chiltern Hundreds Housing Association Cotswold District Council Devon and Cornwall Housing Association East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust in conjunction with St Pancras Housing Association (the HA will manage the scheme) East Sussex local authorities in conjunction with Moat Housing Association (Moat HA will run the scheme) Guildford Borough Council Hampshire County Council (Swaythling HA will manage the scheme) Hampshire Voluntary Housing Society Keys to the Capital Consortium (comprises Tower Homes, Metropolitan Home Ownership, Notting Hill Home Ownership and Boleyn & Forest Housing) Knightstone Housing Society London Cyrenians Housing Maidenhead & District Housing Association Merlion Housing Group Metropolitan Home Ownership Midsummer Housing Association Moat Housing Association Mount Green Housing Association Northcote Housing Association Notting Hill Home Ownership (NHHO) Oakfern Housing

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Pan Oxford Healthcare Partnership (Northcote HA will manage the scheme) Peabody Trust Raglan Housing Association Ridgehill Housing Association St George plc (NHHO will manage the scheme) Sarsen Housing Association Servite Homes Signpost Housing Association Soha Housing Southampton City Council (Swaythling HA will manage the scheme) Southern Housing Home Ownership Sovereign Housing Association Sutherland Housing Association Swaythling Housing Association Swindon Borough Council (Sarsen HA will manage the scheme) Taywood Homes Ltd (in partnership with Chelmsford Borough Council to manage the scheme) Taywood Homes Ltd (Genesis Housing Group will manage the scheme) Thames Valley Housing Association Touchstone Housing Association Tower Homes Town and Country Housing Group Unitary Ltd (in partnership with Peabody Trust) Wandsworth Council (NHHO will manage the scheme) Western Challenge Housing Association

Of the 2011 key workers helped by the starter home initiative as at 31 January 2003, around 200 purchased new build homes. Of these 20 are in local authorities with rural districts.

Details of schemes utilising hitherto empty homes or brownfield sites are not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

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