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Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what information her Department holds on the political affiliation of each member of the interim authority established to run Shrewsbury Town Council between March 2009 and June 2009. 
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many items of data local authorities are required to collect for the purposes of (a) compilation of the national indicator set and (b) data returns to her Department outside the national indicator set. 
John Healey: The data items required to underpin the national indicator set are either collected by individual Whitehall Departments or input directly into the Data Interchange Hub by local authorities. The NIS hand book, available at
Regarding data returns outside of the national indicator set, work is underway within the Department to categorise all data collections and implement a 30 per cent. reduction in data collected by May 2010. This in line with the commitment made in the Local Government White Paper to limit data collection to that which is necessary for reasons such as financial management and policy development. Until this work is further advanced, the number of data returns which local authorities are required to continue to collect could be established only at disproportionate cost.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what guidance her Department has provided to local authorities on severance packages given to local government officials who are sacked for not properly fulfilling their duties. 
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what methodology the Valuation Office Agency uses to calculate the value of microgeneration equipment within (a) a domestic and (b) a non-domestic dwelling. 
John Healey: The basis of valuation for domestic dwellings is market value. For a new dwelling, the degree to which such fixed equipment would affect a band would be an estimation as to what effect, if any, such equipment would have on the market value, and hence banding, of the dwelling. No improvement will affect a valuation band on an existing dwelling unless:
(i) there is a subsequent sale, and
(ii) any such measurable increase is significant enough to move the value to a higher band.
The same principles, however, would apply to the domestic part of a composite dwelling (a part domestic/part non domestic property), where the microgeneration equipment was provided for the domestic portion.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much additional revenue the higher multiplier on large and medium-sized businesses raised in England in (a) 2005-06, (b) 2006-07 and (c) 2007-08. 
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether an impact assessment has been undertaken of the effect on local businesses of the change in the rate of national non-domestic rates effective from April 2009. 
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what estimate has been made of the change in revenue accruing from supplementary business rates as a result of the 2010 rates revaluation. 
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the reasons were for the time taken in (a) publishing and (b) laying before Parliament regulations on (i) empty property and (ii) small business rate relief. 
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what estimate she has made of the effects of the economic downturn on local authority revenues from business rates. 
John Healey: Local authority revenues are unaffected by the amount of income from business rates which fluctuates from year to year. The distributable amount of business rates is one component of Formula Grant. The Government have announced totals for Formula Grant for 2008-09 to 2010-11. Within the total Formula Grant for each year, the amount of Revenue Support Grant varies to compensate for fluctuations in the distributable amount. The Government have delivered the first three year settlement for individual local authorities providing the predictability and stability which allow them to deliver effective services and to plan to deliver continued efficiency gains to help residents and local businesses in the current economic climate.
Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government in what way the Local Authority Business Growth Incentive Scheme is being built systematically into the business rates system. 
John Healey: The Local Authority Business Growth Incentives (LABGI) scheme has operated for three years, taking increases in business rateable value as a proxy for economic growth. The Government have recently consulted on proposals for a revised LABGI scheme for 2009-10 and 2010-11, which will take increases in business rate yield as the proxy. We intend to see the LABGI principle mainstreamed as part of the local government finance system. It will be subject to review and consultation, and to decisions made during future spending reviews.
Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the timetable for publication of the new rateable values for each local business based on the 2010 rating list arising from the 2010 business rates revaluation is; and in which month she expects new bills be sent to local firms. 
John Healey: Valuation officers in England and Wales will publish a copy of the new rating lists that they propose to compile (known as the draft rating lists) on 30 September 2009. The lists proper (known as the compiled rating lists) will be published and will come into effect on 1 April 2010.
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assumptions on the number of non-domestic properties affected by recent changes to empty property business rate relief were made for the purposes of the most recent impact assessment made of those changes. 
John Healey: VOA records show that 70 per cent. of all properties are under the £15,000 exemption threshold announced at the pre-Budget report and if these are unoccupied in 2009-10 they will not pay empty property rates. We have assumed that there will be no significant increase in the number of claimants of empty property relief and that the distribution of empty properties below the rateable value threshold of £15,000 will follow that of all non-domestic properties. We have based our costs of the amendment on the rateable value below this threshold.
John Healey: I refer the hon. Member to answer given by the Minister with responsibility for Housing, my hon. Friend the Member for Hartlepool (Mr. Iain Wright) to the hon. Member for Brent, East (Sarah Teather) on 26 November 2008, Official Report, column 1493W.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) what assessment she has made of the effect on business rate revenue should the retail price index measurement of the rate of inflation fall below zero; 
John Healey: No such assessment has been made. The impact of the retail price index on business rates is determined by a formula in the Local Government Finance Act 1988, schedule 7, which outlines how to calculate the business rate multipliers using the RPI figure.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether a licensed premises is eligible for exemption from empty property business rates in circumstances where the licence has been suspended by a local authority for up to three months, but where occupation of the premises has not been prevented. 
John Healey: Empty property rates apply where a property is unoccupied and those properties that are not liable for empty property rates are set out in section 4 of the Non-Domestic Rating (Unoccupied Property) (England) Regulations 2008.
Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment she has made of the merits of applying transitional relief to lower retrospective increases in business rates levied on businesses in the registered ports. 
John Healey: The current transitional relief scheme allows properties which first came on to the rating list on 1 April 2005 as a consequence of an existing property being split (as is the case with the property in ports) to be allocated a certified rateable value for 31 March 2005 (see regulation 17 of the Non-Domestic Rating (Chargeable Amounts) (England) Regulations 2004.
The purpose of the certified value is to ascertain whether the increase in the rateable value of property which has been split or merged from the 2000 to the 2005 rating lists results in an increase in rates in respect of that property and therefore to ascertain whether there should be an entitlement to transitional relief.
Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the statement of the Minister for Local Government of 19 January 2009, Official Report, column 600, (1) whether changes to the ratings system of businesses in the registered ports will be revenue-neutral; 
(2) what the estimated increase in net revenue in business rates from the changes to rateable values made over the 2005 to 2009 period is; and whether the revenue was taken into account in the business rate revenue estimates prepared for the pre-Budget report 2008. 
John Healey: The purpose of the review is not to raise revenue but to ensure that all rateable property pays its fair amount of rates, from the point the property should be rated, and with all businesses being treated equally.
Individual changes in rateable values of the ports and businesses within the ports are variable; some have increased while others have decreased. I am unable to be specific about the effect on revenue, as calculation of bills and any reliefs that may be due, are matter for individual billing authorities. However, the estimated cost of the Schedule of payments policy allowing certain backdated liabilities to be spread over eight years was set out in the pre-Budget report.
Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the statement of the Minister for Local Government of 19 January 2009, Official Report, column 600, whether the £9 million increase in net rateable value was set as an international objective of the change in the way in which rates on businesses in the registered ports are calculated. 
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government with reference to the answer of 10 January 2008, Official Report, column 773W, on public houses: non-domestic rates, whether (a) darts boards and (b) pool tables will be taken into account when valuing licensed premises as part of the 2010 business rates revaluation. 
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