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Rent Restructuring

Lord Whitty asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Andrews: Local authorities are not obliged to introduce rent restructuring, but are encouraged to do so through the operation of the housing revenue account subsidy system, which is calculated on the assumption that each authority is following the policy. No central records are kept of those authorities which have declined to introduce rent restructuring.

Lord Whitty asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Andrews: There is no statutory compulsion to introduce rent restructuring, although it is strongly encouraged through the operation of the housing revenue account subsidy system, which is calculated on the basis that the policy is adopted. It is for local authorities to decide whether or not they should do so, based upon local financial circumstances.

The most recent statement on the introduction of rent restructuring was made in a press release on 9 November 2004.

Lord Whitty asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Andrews: The provision of more affordable housing is a key priority and we have a range of policies to deliver this. Sustainable Communities: Homes for All, published in January 2005, sets out the Government's strategy to offer
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everyone a decent home at a price they can afford. It includes action over the next five years to provide more homes where they are needed, while enhancing the environment, and offers new and improved options for hundreds of thousands of social tenants, first-time buyers and key workers who want to own their own home. It also sets out plans to provide better conditions and more choice to those who rent, with decent homes for all social tenants and to revitalise communities suffering from low demand and abandoned housing, and create more mixed communities.

The aim of rent restructuring is to ensure that tenants have a clear and transparent choice of rental properties regardless of whether the landlord is a local authority or a registered social landlord. Social rents are, and will remain, well below market rents.

Residential Care

Baroness Greengross asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Warner: Where a person goes into residential care and receives assistance from social services with the cost, the "liable relative" rules give local authorities discretionary powers to ask the person's spouse to make payments towards the costs. This is now widely regarded as anachronistic, and we are committed to repeal the "liable relative" rules at the earliest opportunity. However, because these rules are in the National Assistance Act 1948, repealing them will require primary legislation.

We estimate the costs of repealing the "liable relatives" rules to be £3 million to £4 million per annum. Changes were made to the charging arrangements in relation to savings credit and, as a result, local authorities gained around £5 million per annum. This enables the local authorities to cover the costs of the repeal of the "liable relatives" rules. We would encourage local authorities to use this money to discontinue use of the "liable relative" rules.

Road Safety Improvements

Lord Lucas asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Lord Davies of Oldham: This information is not available in the form requested. On both road and rail, a wide range of projects contributes to improved safety, but the costs are not individually attributed to safety benefits specifically.

For road safety we continue to develop and implement our road safety strategy. The 2004 casualty figures show we are now over halfway towards our 2010 target of a 40 per cent. reduction in the number of people killed or seriously injured, and over three-quarters of the way towards our 50 per cent. target for children.

The road safety strategy is broad and involves activities ranging from local road safety engineering schemes to education and publicity campaigns. The department does not hold records of the costs of each of these activities, aside from the following:

£14 million per year is spent on THINK! road safety campaigns;

£4.5 million per year is spent on road safety research; and

local highway authorities in England spend £90 million per year on local safety engineering schemes, and £21 million on education, training and publicity. The casualty reduction benefits of local safety engineering schemes in England are estimated at £281 million.

Rail safety statistics have shown a gradual improvement over the years and this country's rail safety record is not out of line with that of other European countries. Neither the Government nor the industry hold information related to the costs of safety improvements. This is because newer rolling stock, signalling and infrastructure is safer than that which it replaces but "safety" is not the prime reason for the replacement. A better trained workforce is safer than otherwise but the "safety" element is not separately costed or evaluated. The only measures required by Government on safety grounds in recent years were the fitting of the train protection and warning system (TPWS), to reduce the incidents of signals passed at danger, and the requirement that Mark 1 (slam door) rolling stock be replaced by the end of November 2005. TPWS fitment was costed at £575 million, with the risk from signals passed at danger falling by 76 per cent. since March 2001.

The rail industry's priorities for safety are set out in the Railway Strategic Safety Plan 2005, produced by the Rail Safety and Standards Board and available on its website

Road User Charging

Lord Berkeley asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Lord Davies of Oldham: In line with their manifesto commitment, the Government are examining the potential of moving away from the current system of motoring taxation towards a national system of road pricing.

Detailed work is now being taken forward to allow decisions to be made on whether we should move to national road pricing. This work will include an examination of when this could happen. The road pricing feasibility study, published by the Department for Transport in July 2004, suggested that the earliest a full national road pricing scheme could be implemented was 2014. We are keen to explore the scope to develop local pilot schemes in advance of any national scheme.

Royal Air Force: Logo

Lord Astor of Hever asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Drayson: The redesigned logo was produced by the Central Office of Information's in-house design team at a cost of £33,000. We are currently developing electronic stationery, business cards and other documents at a total cost of £13,000 and production cost of £10,000. By using desktop computer capabilities, the cost of implementation will be negligible. The new logo will be used on building fascias, signs and so on only when these need routine refurbishment.

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