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Fire Service Pensions

Mr. Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions when he expects the review of fire service pension arrangements to be concluded; when the review commenced; and which Government Departments and agencies are engaged in the review. [52114]

Dr. Whitehead: In 1998 the Home Office published a consultation document on options for changes to the Firefighters' Pension Scheme. There was no consensus among Fire Service interests on the costs and benefits which might be included in any new pension scheme. We have no immediate plans to introduce a new scheme but continue to discuss amendments to the current scheme with the Central Fire Brigades Advisory Councils which include representatives of the Scottish Executive, the Northern Ireland Administration, Fire Service employers, unions and staff associations.

Council Tax

Mr. Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will set out the distribution of properties, by council tax band, in (a) Newcastle upon Tyne, (b) the London borough of Wandsworth and (c) the London borough of Richmond; and what the average distribution by band is in each Government office region of England. [52116]

Dr. Whitehead: Information on the number of properties in each council tax band is shown on the valuation list, compiled by the Valuation Office Agency. The latest information available is at 26 March 2002. The number of properties in each council tax band, and the distribution of properties by council tax band, for Newcastle upon Tyne, the London borough of Wandsworth and the London borough of Richmond are shown in the table. The table also gives information for each Government office region of England.

Number and percentage of properties in each council tax band

Band ABand BBand CBand DBand EBand FBand GBand HTotal
Newcastle upon Tyne
Percentage 60.614.313.
Government Office Region
North East
North West
Yorkshire and the Humber
Percentage 46.219.416.
East Midlands
Percentage 39.022.417.710.
West Midlands
Percentage 32.724.91910.
South East
South West


Percentage figures are subject to rounding.

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School Run

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what research he has commissioned into the psychosocial impact on children of parents taking them to school by car. [51980]

Mr. Byers: In October 2000 my Department commissioned a scoping study and literature review to establish what was already known about the effect of travel mode on children's mental health and cognitive and social development. The study reported in April 2001. The executive summary is on the DTLR website at index.htm and has been placed in the Libraries of the House.

Voluntary Sector

Mr. Letwin: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions, pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for South-West Bedfordshire of 25 January 2002, Official Report, columns 1183–85W, on Government funding of the voluntary sector, if he will list the grant schemes and other mechanisms by which (a) his Department, (b) the housing action trusts, (c) English Partnerships and (d) the regional development agencies distribute funding to voluntary sector organisations. [51409]

Dr. Whitehead [holding answer 19 April 2002]: The Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions does not hold information centrally on the grant schemes and other mechanisms by which it distributes funding to voluntary sector bodies. However, information in respect of the bodies specifically mentioned in the hon. Member's question is as follows:

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Housing (East Lancashire)

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what consideration he has given to the proposals submitted to him by local authorities in East Lancashire to tackle the problem of run-down and abandoned housing in the region. [50684]

Ms Keeble: The East Lancashire Housing Forum submitted in December 2001 a proposed programme to tackle the problem of low demand and abandoned housing in the area. The Government is considering the proposal in the context of the spending review, along with the proposal from various northern housing bodies for a housing market renewal fund.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State announced on 10 April that nine areas where the problems of low demand housing are most acute, of which East Lancashire is one, were being invited to work with Government to establish pathfinder projects to tackle low demand. Their aim will be to provide lasting solutions for communities blighted by derelict homes through investment and innovation. They will do this by developing a strategic approach for regenerating their sub-regional housing markets that will bring together key stakeholders, inform future investment, and test out new and innovative approaches to combating low demand.

A key element of the pathfinder projects' approach will be a unified agenda. Experience shows that it is not sufficient to tackle the housing problem alone. Local authorities must work closely together with their

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partners—the police, the health authority, the Regional Development Agency, Housing Corporation and private sector—to rejuvenate our towns and cities.

Low demand and abandoned housing is a major problem. But it also provides a unique opportunity to restructure and rebuild our cities for the twenty-first century. We must now seize that opportunity. The Government will work with local people to deliver the change necessary and bring hope to those communities.

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