|Previous Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|
The council will be asked to adopt a resolution on the establishment of a European regional data centre for the long-range identification and tracking (LRIT) of ships. This will be implementation in Europe of a safety of life at sea (SOLAS) regulation, adopted by IMO in 2006. I expect to be able to agree to the resolution.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): My right honourable friend the Minister for Housing (Margaret Beckett) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
For most people, buying or selling a home is the most important financial transaction they will undertake. It is often also one of the most stressful and difficult. Home information packs (HIPs) were introduced to give consumers more information from the outset of that transaction, making the process fairer, faster and more transparent. Existing regulations that allow for a delay in providing a HIP and for transitional insurance cover expire at the end of December. I propose to extend them until 6 April 2009.
This Statement outlines the changes that we propose to make to HIPs to make them work more effectively from that date, both by expanding the content and ensuring that they are available right from the start. The proposals give the industry and prospective sellers time to prepare for the changes.
Following consultation, I am today laying an order amending the regulations so that from 6 April 2009 HIPs must include a property information questionnaire. This will give buyers more useful information to help them to make decisions about whether to view a property and, ultimately, whether to make an offer. The forms have been designed to be quick, easy and straightforward for sellers to complete.
For leasehold properties, the property information questionnaire will include a summary of the leasehold arrangements, replacing previous requirements. I am also laying an order making the temporary leasehold information provision permanent from 1 January 2009. This means that a copy of the lease will continue to be the only extra information required for leasehold properties.
Although take-up of home condition reports has been disappointing, we know that people want to know about the condition of homes before they commit to buy them. I will establish a working group to explore options for making sure that consumers have appropriate information about a propertys condition. This will build on the work carried out by the stakeholder panel to develop market-led models that can be delivered by existing practitioners, including home inspectors.
It is essential that buyers are able to see the information in the HIP as soon as possible. However, with the temporary first day marketing provision, while sellers must order and pay for the HIP, agents may take up to 28 days before making it available.
As a result, some buyers looking to move quickly are making decisions about purchases without ever seeing the HIP. Some sellers are paying for a pack that they never receive. And some estate agents are said to be using this period to avoid complying with the relevant regulations on marketing properties. We are therefore ending this first day marketing provision from 6 April 2009 so that all buyers will get the information that they need as soon as possible.
We recognise the present difficulties in the housing market. But that makes it even more important to remove uncertainties for buyers and sellers, speeding up and smoothing out the process. So this change will mean that sellers will not face unnecessary delays. A recent survey of 16,000 transactions showed that, where a HIP was available, exchanges were, on average, actually completed six days quicker.
The information required for a basic HIP, which a seller will need to start marketing their property, is readily available in three to five days. Sellers will still have up to 28 days to provide certain information that may take longer to compile such as the property search. Nor will this mean extra burdens for estate agentsthey will still be able to advise potential clients about properties that they expect to be coming on to the market soon. Independent research by Europe Economics has already concluded that HIPs do not have an impact on house prices or transactions.
This provision was intended to enable the private sector to conduct property searches in local authorities where access to relevant data was restricted. But in
8 Dec 2008 : Column WS34
My honourable friend the Member for Hartlepool has already laid provisions introducing a new charging regime for local authority property searches data. As charges become fairer, private sector searchers will have easier access and should therefore not need this insurance cover, which will end on 6 April 2009, coinciding with the introduction of the property information questionnaire.
I want to make sure that consumers find property searches as informative and helpful as possible. I have asked Ted Beardsall, former deputy chief executive of the Land Registry, to convene a working group to consider how these might be made simpler and more easy to use.
Consumers should be in no doubt that we will protect their rights and champion their interests where sellers or estate agents try to avoid or neglect their responsibilities and obligations. Estate agents who break the law face sanctions.
We also want to make sure that both buyers and sellers get a good service from professionals working in the industry. They should be clear about the standards of service they are entitled to, how the industry is regulated and where to go if they have concerns or complaints.
So I am pleased that the Office of Fair Trading will be conducting a comprehensive study of home buying and selling, looking at competition between service providers and how consumer interests are served. My department will work closely with the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform to support this study, which should provide important evidence about how effectively the industry is working at present and whether further reform may be needed.
These changes will make sure that consumers are better protected and better informed. Consumers will get the vital information they need when they need it, with a copy of the HIP available upfront and a property search that is fit for purpose. This will give them greater value for money and greater peace of mind. Industry bodies and property professionals will also benefit from greater certainty about how the process should work. The department will be preparing and communicating advice to help consumers and industry to understand and to plan for the changes.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Health (Alan Johnson) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
The National Health Service has benefited from successive generous spending settlements, as investment in the NHS has trebled since 1997. This investment has funded the record increases in staff, hospitals and medical advances that we have seen in recent years.
We have also seen strong financial management across the NHS over the past few years, which has turned a deficit into a healthy surplus. The NHS has exceeded its Gershon efficiency targets, delivering £7.88 billion savings over the last four years. We expect the NHS to continue to deliver at this level and to bring forward further proposals to drive additional efficiencies throughout its operations. We can be confident, therefore, that in the tighter economic climate ahead the NHS is on a firm financial footing and will be well equipped to meet the efficiency challenges of the coming years.
I am pleased to announce today the next round of revenue allocations to primary care trusts (PCTs) for 2009-10 and 2010-11. PCTs will receive an average increase of 5.5 per cent in both years, a total increase in funding of £8.6 billion, bringing the total allocations to PCTs over two years to £164 billion.
This means that by 2010-11 PCTs will receive, on average, £1,612 per person. The comparable figure in 1996-97 was £426 per head. We are putting a greater proportion of the resources available into local communities and closer to patients, with more than 80 per cent of the NHS revenue budget allocated directly to PCTs.
I will be writing this week to every honourable Member in England detailing their relevant PCTs allocations for the two years. I have also included with this Statement a table of the 2009-10 and 2010-11 PCT revenue allocations.
The allocations that I am announcing today are based on a new, more technically robust formula that has been recommended by the independent Advisory Committee on Resource Allocation (ACRA). This improves on the previous formula by:targeting funds at the places with the worst health outcomes;assessing need according to age and other factors together for the first time; anda new market forces factor (MFF), which reduces unhelpful variation.
This years operating framework sets out how we will support the health service to deliver the vision in Lord Darzis High Quality Care for All to put quality at the heart of everything that the NHS does.
Alongside the national priorities, PCTs will set their own local priorities built on evidence about local needs. They will need to work in step with local government through local area agreements that focus on improving health and well-being as well as better healthcare.
To deliver that agenda of improving services for patients in this challenging economic climate, we need to redouble our efforts to improve efficiency in the public sector and to get best value for taxpayers money.
In this context, high-quality care is not a luxury but a necessity. Prioritising the most effective treatments, reducing errors and waste and keeping people healthy and independent for as long as possible are all things that contribute not only to the quality of care, but also to a more efficient and productive health service. High quality and value for money are not competing alternatives; they are one and the same thing.
For example, through the great efforts of the NHS to tackle healthcare-associated infections in recent years, we estimate that the NHS has already saved over £75 million in reduced bed days and drug costs, while improving outcomes for patients. These savings will rise as we continue to drive down infection rates. Better care equals better value.
Recent efforts have underlined the potential for further efficiency gains. As the NHS develops its plans in 2009, it will build on the work of the cross-government operational efficiency programme and the Department of Healths own public value programme.
Already we have estimated that substantial savings can be delivered through driving up the quality of care, reducing waste and better commissioning and procurement, including, through better use of shared business services, improvements in the way in which
8 Dec 2008 : Column WS37
Over the course of the next year, the NHS will plan, bottom-up and in detail, how these productivity opportunities will be realised in 2010-11 and in future years. We want the NHS to bring forward the best package of measures appropriate to each locality.
Of course, a renewed drive for efficiency will be challenging but, even after making an allowance for improved efficiency, with 5.5 per cent allocations in both of the next two years and prudent drawdown of £800 million of the NHS surplus over the same period, we are confident that the NHS can still secure the continuous improvement in care that patients, public and staff rightly demand.
|2009-10 and 2010-11 PCT Revenue Allocations|
|PCT name||2009-10 allocation £000s||2010-11 allocation £000s||Two-year increase £000s||Two-year increase %||2010-11 closing DFT %|
|Next Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|