Previous Section Index Home Page

Employees' Accommodation

Chris Grayling: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the tax implications for an employee of a company which makes accommodation available for key workers recruited from a different part of the country and working away from their normal home base. [57268]

Dawn Primarolo: Where an employee is supplied with free or cheap living accommodation by reason of his or her employment a tax charge can arise under section 145 of the Income and Corporation Taxes Act (ICTA), subject to the exemptions from charge of that section. But for an employee who is sent away from their normal work place to work at a temporary work place for a period not expected to last more than two years, the cost of accommodation at or near the new work place is exempt under the employee travel rules in section 198 ICTA.


Mr. Burstow: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the (a) number and

20 May 2002 : Column 112W

(b) percentage of (i) pensioners and (ii) pensioner households (A) paying income tax and (B) entitled to the minimum income guarantee. [57201]

Dawn Primarolo: It is estimated that there will be some 4.9 million taxpayers over state retirement pension age in 2002–03 and this is some 45 per cent. of the 10.9 million pensioners. The taxpayer estimates are based on the survey or personal incomes and are consistent with the April 2002 Budget. The population estimates were provided by the Government Actuary's Department.

Based on the family resources survey it is estimated that there are some eight million families where at least one person is over pension age, 4.2 million of these families contain a taxpayer in 2002–03.

Estimates for those entitled to the minimum income guarantee are not available in the format requested. Estimates for the number of single pensioners and pensioner couples in receipt of MIG and those entitled to but not in receipt of MIG are presented in "Income Related Benefits Estimates of Take Up in 1999–2000". A copy of the publication is available in the Library of the House.

Federation of Small Businesses

John Barrett: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what representations he has received from the Federation of Small Businesses regarding the implications of the Budget for small firms. [58121]

Dawn Primarolo: The Government have received a number of representations from a variety of organisations regarding the Budget.

Unincorporated Small Businesses

John Barrett: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the implication of the Budget for unincorporated small businesses. [58120]

Dawn Primarolo: Unincorporated small businesses benefit from a number of Budget 2002 measures including measures to ease the impact of VAT on small business and implementing the recommendations of the Carter review of payroll services.

20 May 2002 : Column 113W



Planning (North-West)

Mrs. Ellman: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions when he intends to publish his response to the recommendations of the panel that conducted the Public Examination of Draft Regional Planning Guidance for the North-West; and if he will make a statement, [58148]

Ms Keeble: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions is today publishing for public consultation proposed changes to the Draft Regional Planning Guidance for the North-West (RPG13). They are based on the recommendations of the independent panel that held a Public Examination into Draft RPG13 in February and March 2001.

Draft RPG was prepared and published by the North-West Regional Assembly (NWRA). Its overall strategy is to establish a broad framework for the preparation of development plans by the North-West's local planning authorities up to 2016. It aims to achieve greater economic competitiveness and growth with associated regional progress; to secure an urban renaissance in the cities and towns of the North-West; to sustain the region's smaller rural and coastal communities; to create an accessible region; to assure the prudent management of the region's environmental and cultural assets; and to secure environmental quality. We support this and, as recommended by the panel, we are proposing changes to ensure that the strategy is more clearly expressed and relates clearly to the policy chapters. It is important that the implications for development plans and other strategies are clear and unambiguous in order to make a real difference on the ground.

A key issue for the region is to bring about the renaissance of the urban areas by encouraging economic growth and regeneration in a sustainable way. To achieve this we are promoting the renewal of the region's urban areas by concentrating resources upon the selective refurbishment, conversion and redevelopment of outworn building stock, and the comprehensive improvement of older and unpopular neighbourhoods. At the same time, we are proposing to include a reduction in the annual rate of provision of totally new housing (unrelated to clearance) by 15 per cent., and increase the proportion of housing provided on previously used (brownfield) land from 65 per cent. to 70 per cent. The proposed changes give added weight to avoiding any premature release of greenfield land which would undermine attempts to promote the use of recycled land and the redevelopment of existing housing areas.

The proposed changes set out projected annual housing provision rates in Table 5.1 and policy on housing provision in Policy UR7. We expect RPG to bring forward an integrated approach to housing renewal at regional and sub-regional level, recognising that the development of sub-regional strategies should look beyond purely housing considerations, and allow for holistic approaches, which include economic, environmental and social elements and mechanisms. We also expect that in developing and

20 May 2002 : Column 114W

implementing sub-regional strategies there will also be a need to have respect for local area/neighbourhood diversity.

Tackling low demand and abandonment lies at the heart of the revised strategy. In underlining the importance of these proposed changes I also wish to draw to attention to the pathfinder initiative "Action to Tackle Housing Abandonment" announced by the Secretary of State on 6 April 2002. Pathfinders will be formed in Greater Manchester (Manchester—Salford, Oldham—Rochdale), Merseyside (Liverpool, Sefton and Wirral), East Lancashire (Blackburn, Hyndburn, Burnley and Pendle). The role of the Regional Assembly, the North-West Development Agency and local planning authorities working with housing and other partners is to pursue a fully integrated response to these issues of low demand, high vacancy rates, falling housing numbers and abandonment, wherever they are to be found. We would welcome views on whether the proposed changes provide an adequate planning framework for tackling low demand and on the sub-regional approach to housing renewal set out by Policy UR6. In particular, we welcome views on whether the proposed changes are sufficient to prevent the unnecessary release of greenfield land for housing. Alternatively, we need to consider whether there should be further changes to reflect the recommendation made by the Transport, Local Government and the Regions Committee that no new planning permissions should be granted for greenfield sites.

The panel recommended the merging of the original Core Strategy/Development Principles and Spatial Development Framework chapters. After careful study we have decided that it would be better to keep the two chapters apart but re-draft them. In so doing I believe that we have kept true to the spirit of what the original draft intended but added a Core Development Principle (on economic competitiveness with social progress), and expressed the Spatial Development Framework with greater clarity. I would particularly welcome views on the proposed priority for urban renaissance resources (set out in Policy SD1) as suggested in the panel's report (R5.6a).

The panel recommended the development of Table 11.1 in Chapter 11 on Monitoring, Implementation and Review. While attempting to set out targets and indicators in the form suggested by the panel there is a need to develop these further and views on this would be particularly welcome. To help progress this in line with the panel's recommendations, there will be a seminar for stakeholders during the consultation period and assistance from the assembly will be invaluable in this matter. As part of that deliberation an action plan will be considered in line with the panel's recommendation (R13.2).

During the Public Examination it was acknowledged that there is a considerable amount of further work that needs to be done and a range of issues that will require an early review of both RPG and the Regional Transport Strategy by the NWRA. Specifically, guidance will need to take into account the findings of a number of studies including those on Air Service; Multi-Modal Transport Studies; Public Transport Accessibility Profiling; Regional Freight; Regional Park and Ride Sites; Renewable Energy Resources; Transport Demand Management; Regional Park Resources; Regional Waste Facility Requirements; Regional Derelict Land Survey; Assessment of distribution and effectiveness of a variety

20 May 2002 : Column 115W

of Waste Minimisation Initiatives across the Region; Review of Urban Potential Studies; and the implications of reviews of PPG 25, MPG6 and the Proposed Policy Guidance on the Extraction of Minerals from the Seabed.

In considering these proposed changes and carrying out future review of RPG13 it is important that account is taken of the principles set out in the Planning Green Paper 1 , in particular the need to make RPG shorter and more strategic; more regionally specific; and more integrated and coordinated with other regional strategies; the increasing importance of introducing sub-regional policies within RPGs will also need to be addressed; and ensuring that the RPG process does not avoid making difficult decisions. Such a review is intended to help develop RPG13 and I am sure that the NWRA will continue to embrace the challenge of helping to implement and develop the Guidance. Consequently, while the proposed changes to the policies in this Draft RPG should be the focus of attention, views are also invited on the changes to the supporting text, including on the extent to which there is any scope for it to be shorter, clearer, and more regionally focused. We intend to revisit this issue following the period of consultation.

There will now be a 13-week consultation period on the proposed changes which will end on Friday 16 August. Copies of the relevant documents have been placed in the Libraries of the House and provided to all of the region's MPs.

Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what plans the Government have for housing development in Lancashire in the next 10 years. [57280]

Ms Keeble: The Secretary of State's Proposed Changes to draft Regional Planning Guidance for the North West indicate that the annual average rate of housing provision for Lancashire, net of clearance, should be 2,690 dwellings.

Next Section Index Home Page