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Local Government Finance

Mr. Michael J. Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions (1) how many submissions were received by his Department (a) in total and (b) from Worcestershire to the consultation paper on local government finance; [148891]

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Ms Beverley Hughes: We received 16,321 consultation responses in sufficient time to include them in the analysis of responses to the local government finance Green Paper. 14,402 of these were part of a campaign by the Fair Education Funding Forum (F40). Many of these were from schools and parents in Worcestershire. Further analysis of the responses by geographical location is not feasible as some of the addresses are unclear and such analysis could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Mr. Michael J. Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will rank, in descending order, each local authority in the West Midlands on the basis of wealth per head of population. [148889]

Mr. Andrew Smith: I have been asked to reply.

The information requested is not available.

Water Authorities

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions (1) what plans he has to change the responsibilities of water authorities whose customers have had their properties damaged because of the failure of the water authority properly to safeguard their plant and equipment; and if he will make a statement; [149081]

Mr. Robert Ainsworth: Water and sewerage undertakers already have a statutory duty to maintain their systems (including plant and equipment). Their performance is put under scrutiny by the Office of Water Services and, as part of this, checks are made on the serviceability of their networks. The undertakers are also required to have plans in place to deal with any failure in the system.

Where waste water from a company's sewer enters a customer's property, customers are entitled to the return of a years sewerage charges up to £1,000 under the guaranteed standards scheme. If sewer flooding is caused by severe weather (eg widespread flooding), payment is not due. These provisions are in addition to individuals rights under common law.

We have no plans at present to make changes to these responsibilities or make any failure a criminal offence.


Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what plans he has to compensate fully local authorities for the total costs of the recent floods; and if he will make a statement. [148950]

Ms Beverley Hughes: In addition to the emergency assistance available to local authorities under the Bellwin scheme and the extra £51 million to accelerate new flood defence schemes, my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, the chair of the floods task force, recently announced that a further £11.6 million has been made available nationally to pay for the Environment Agency's short-term emergency response and repair costs.

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In order to find a longer-term solution to the current problems, we have already embarked upon a review of the way in which flood defence is funded. All of the relevant Government Departments and agencies are involved in this review, including MAFF, DETR, HMT and the Environment Agency. The review steering group is currently commissioning research to inform the work of the review. Based on the current timetable, the review is expected to report its conclusions in September this year.

Departmental Policies (Morecambe and Lunesdale)

Miss Geraldine Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will set out, including statistical information, the effect on the Morecambe and Lunesdale constituency of his Department's policies and actions since 2 May 1997. [149125]

Ms Beverley Hughes: The constituency of Morecambe and Lunesdale has benefited from a range of Government initiatives since 2 May 1997, including:

Capital allocations for housing

Year£ million

Local transport plans

Year£ million

(9) These figures are for Lancashire country council's transport policies and programmes allocation

(10) This figure is from Lancashire county council's provisional local transport plan settlement

It is not possible to determine exactly how much of these amounts has been spent on the Morecambe and Lunesdale constituency. The constituency has benefited from Lancashire county council's integrated transport policies.

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European funding
The Government have secured European funding for Morecambe under the North West Objective 2 programme for 2000-06. It is not possible to state the amounts involved because the programme has yet to be launched.
Local government finance settlement
The following figures show the Government grants to Lancaster county council and Lancaster city council as part of the local government finance settlement.
The information for general grant (revenue support grant, national non domestic rates, and damping grants) is a follows:

Year£ million
Lancaster city council
Lancashire county council

Housing (Young People)

Mr. Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what provision he has made for housing of people aged 16 to 18 years in England. [149787]

Mr. Robert Ainsworth: We are determined to provide stronger support for people who become unintentionally homeless. We will extend the groups of vulnerable homeless people who have a priority need for accommodation to include 16 and 17-year-olds, and care leavers aged 18 to 21. We will make these changes shortly by order under section 189 of the 1996 Housing Act.

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We are also concerned to improve the provision and management of supported housing for young people. The new supporting people programme will come into effect in 2003-04, providing an integrated policy and funding framework for support services for vulnerable households, including young people. Additionally, we will provide £120 million capital funding for a new safer communities supported housing fund, together with associated revenue support of £17 million, to provide new housing and support for young people at risk, and other vulnerable people.

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