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3 May 2006 : Column 1677W—continued


Mr. Pickles: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what estimate he has made of the number of contracts Capita has with local government organisations. [66307]

Mr. Woolas: The information requested is not held centrally.

Departmental Staff Survey

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister pursuant to the answer of 10 March 2006, Official Report, column 1834W, on the departmental staff survey, when he will place in the Library a copy of the narrative report. [66313]

Jim Fitzpatrick: Eight paper copies of the report were sent to the deposited papers clerk, at the House of Commons Library on the 28 March 2006.

Domestic House Sales

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what estimate the Government has made of the number of domestic properties placed on the market for sale in England in each year since 1997. [66387]

Yvette Cooper: Information on the number of domestic properties placed on the market for sale is not collected centrally. However information on the number of properties so!4 since 1996 is available from the Land Registry and published on the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister website at:

Equal Pay

Dr. Cable: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what steps are undertaken within his Department to ensure that women are obtaining equal pay to men doing work of equal value. [65838]

Jim Fitzpatrick: It is our practice to equality proof annual pay awards and key inputs to pay awards.
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Free Bus Travel

Rosie Cooper: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will take steps to ensure that the money allocated to local authorities to cover the cost of the free bus travel policy announced in the Budget is spent solely for that purpose. [66846]

Mr. Woolas: Government funding for the cost of free bus travel, as for many other services provided by local authorities, is distributed through the unhypothecated formula grant. This enables councils to take their own decisions on local funding priorities, accountable to local people. The Government are considering the implementation of the national scheme for free bus travel, as announced by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the whole issue of the efficiency and effectiveness of current arrangements for bus travel, in the context of the Comprehensive Spending Review 2007.

Home Inspection Packs

Mr. Drew: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the timetable is for the introduction of home inspection packs. [63180]

Yvette Cooper: Home information packs will be introduced on 1 June 2007.

Housing (Lettings and Allocations)

Andrew Stunell: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of choice-based housing lettings policy by local authorities; if he will provide additional guidance on how councils should determine between housing choice and need in their allocation schemes; and if he will make a statement. [64060]

Yvette Cooper: An independent evaluation of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister-funded choice-based lettings (CBL) pilot scheme was carried out and a report published in May 2004. The evaluation report showed that the pilots were successful in offering increased choice to social housing applicants and that applicants largely welcomed the move to CBL, feeling that it gave them greater choice and control and increased the transparency of the lettings process. Local authorities were also very positive about their experience of CBL. In order to build on the evaluation and assess the longer term impacts of CBL, ODPM has commissioned Heriot Watt University to undertake further research which is currently underway and scheduled to complete by summer 2006.

ODPM is committed to producing statutory guidance to local authorities on choice based lettings. This will include advice on how to frame a CBL scheme which offers applicants a choice of accommodation while continuing to meet the statutory obligation to ensure that priority for social housing goes to those in greater housing need. The guidance will also be issued for consultation later this year.

Local Government Finance

Mr. Kidney: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will enable local authorities to retain the additional income raised from abolishing the council tax discount on empty homes. [66273]

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Mr. Woolas: When the Government introduced new powers for local authorities to reduce the council tax discount on long term empty homes in 2003 we concluded that, to ensure that any decision to reduce the discount was made on housing grounds not for financial reasons, the additional resources raised should be distributed nationally. We have no plans to change the current arrangements.

Mr. Kidney: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many local authorities have used the discretionary powers contained in the Local Government Act 2003 to abolish the council tax discount on (a) second homes and (b) empty homes. [66284]

Mr. Woolas: As at 10 October 2005:
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These figures are generated using the CTB1(S) form, which was completed by 353 billing authorities (that is, all authorities with the single exception of Wandsworth, which has therefore been excluded from the figures).

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what funds have been allocated by the Government to each Greater London Borough Council in each of the last eight years. [67030]

Mr. Woolas: The information available is shown in the following table.
Government grant allocated to each greater London borough council from 1998–99 to 2005–06

City of London85,05286,92988,80692,503101,051116,301121,278125,061
Hammersmith and Fulham148,850159,107168,927180,845190,898213,397223,648230,169
Kensington and Chelsea120,870127,582136,376142,022152,609175,652176,988184,014
Tower Hamlets269,788289,204310,219335,064359,807409,164438,278470,231
Barking and Dagenham136,439153,355168,827181,277193,347223,681223,364237,538
Kingston upon Thames75,48380,03786,75294,24596,829109,459115,155124,820
Richmond upon Thames75,75881,93794,629100,260106,081116,903118,025122,849
Waltham Forest192,707210,339229,063248,061263,757278,861294,979295,469

1.Government grant is defined here as the sum of specific grants inside Aggregate External Finance, formula grant (revenue support grant, redistributed business rates and police grant) and Greater London Authority (GLA) grant.
2.Changes in grants between years may be affected by changing local authority responsibilities.
3.The information excludes those grant programmes, such as European funding, where authorities are simply one of the recipients of funding paid towards an area.

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