27 Nov 2001 : Column: 745W
Ms Buck: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions when he expects to (a) receive and (b) publish the Ernst & Young report on the value for money of the proposed PPP for London Underground; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Coleman: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what plans he has to (a) order and (b) publish an independent review of the value for money of the proposed public private partnership of the London Underground; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Jamieson: I refer my hon. Friends to the reply given to my hon. Friend, the Member for Hendon (Mr. Dismore) on 23 November 2001, Official Report, column 493W. Ernst & Young are due to deliver their conclusions before decisions are taken on the value for money of final bids for the Government's modernisation plans for the London Underground. The Secretary of State is still considering the timing of publication.
Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions, pursuant to his answer of 7 November 2001, Official Report, column 289W, if he will place in the Library the PricewaterhouseCoopers and the Ernst & Young studies and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Jamieson: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to my hon. Friend the Member for Regent's Park and Kensington, North (Ms Buck) on 12 November 2001, Official Report, column 503W, and to the answer given today to my hon. Friend, the Member for Hammersmith and Fulham (Mr. Coleman) (PQ 14515) at column 745W.
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Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions when he expects to commence the funding mechanism that will replace the new deal for communities programme; and if he will make a statement. 
Ms Keeble: There will be no third round of NDC but the existing 39 partnerships will continue piloting many of the ideas in the National Strategy for Neighbourhood Renewal. The Government are committed to learning as much as possible from them over the next 10 years and spreading best practice.
Real delivery in turning round deprived areas requires high-quality public services in all neighbourhoods, rather than specific programmes shoring up poor public services in only a few areas. The main focus of Neighbourhood Renewal is to reshape the way mainstream resources are used and the lessons learned from NDC will help identify ways to achieve this.
Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions on what date he instructed parliamentary drafters to draft (a) the Railway Administration Order Rules 2001 and (b) legislation to give him powers to direct the Rail Regulator. 
Mr. Redwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions when he will announce the (a) board of (b) financial backers of and (c) advisers to the proposed not-for-profit company he wishes to take over the assets and liabilities of Railtrack plc. 
Mr. Spellar: A bid team is being established to propose a company limited by guarantee which will put a bid to the Administrator to have transferred to it Railtrack plc's railway assets and its role as Network Operator. Information on the company's board, financial backers and advisers will be announced at the appropriate time.
Mr. Howard: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he has made a revised estimate of the total cost of the rail element of the 10-year transport plan since the administration of Railtrack; and if he will make a statement on alterations to previous forecasts, broken down by the (a) private and (b) public elements of the plan. 
Ms Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what progress he has made in developing (a) comprehensive inventories, (b) risk management strategies and (c) management systems to fund street lighting. 
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Mr. Jamieson: A working group representing DTLR and representatives from local government and industry was set up in September to take forward these issues. The need for a comprehensive inventory has been recognised as an important step and proposals in draft form are being produced in a form which could be readily adopted by local authorities.
Research into a street lighting risk management strategy is being considered. This will be dependent on the collection of accurate information on street lighting stock and condition which is one of the aims of the street lighting inventory.
When inventories are in place showing sufficient information on street lighting stock at a local and national level, DTLR will consider ways in which this information could be used to allocate funding to highway authorities that would allow them to deal with their street lighting backlog.
Ms Keeble: The Government are committed in the 10-year plan for transport to tackling the local road maintenance backlog, including the backlog for street lighting. Over £30 billion is being provided for local road maintenance over the next 10 years, and extra £9 billion above the funding levels in the previous 10 years.
Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what was the average cost in the last 12 months of housing a homeless family in (a) bed and breakfast and hostel accommodation and (b) private leasing of unsold properties from property developers. 
Ms Keeble [holding answer 19 November 2001]: Information reported to the Department by local authorities about expenditure on accommodation provided under homelessness legislation does not identify average unit costs. Available information derived from the report "Homelessness Statistics 19992000 Actuals", published by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) is as follows:
|Bed and breakfast||276.92||246.54|
(1) Based on gross charges before deduction of any rent rebate. The figures for bed and breakfast accommodation represent an average for the year 19992000, while those for hostels reflect charges in the last rent week of March 2000.
(2) Includes any units in privately-owned hostels (e.g. owned by charities or voluntary organisations) used by local authorities to house homeless families.
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Mr. Swire: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will list the methodology changes made since 1997 to the formulae for calculating the standard lending assessment and aggregate external finance figures for (a) Devon county council and (b) east Devon district council; and if he will make an assessment of the net financial effect of these changes. 
Dr. Whitehead: There were 15 changes in the method of determining Standard Spending Assessments (SSAs) for the 199899 Local Government Finance Settlement; and 20 changes for the 19992000 Local Government Finance Settlement.
In 19992000 the Government introduced a new damping grant, Central Support Protection Grant (CSPG), to ensure that no authority received less grant than the year before, and that authorities which had education and personal social services responsibilities received at least 1.5 per cent. more than the year before.
The July 1998 Local Government White Paper announced a three-year review of Revenue Grant Distribution. It said that the Government did not expect to make fresh changes to the method of calculation of SSAs except where there are changes in the functions of councils, or the funding of particular services.
In 200001 there were therefore only limited adjustments to SSAs to accommodate the establishment of the Greater London Authority and related changes, most notably those arising from the alterations to the boundary of the Metropolitan Police District and the Essex Hertfordshire and Surrey police areas. CSPG was retained in 200001.
In 200102 there was only one change in the method of determining SSAs to reflect the transfer of funding for nursery education for four-year-olds. CSPG was replaced for those authorities with education and personal social services responsibilities by floors and ceilings, which guaranteed that no authority would receive less than a 3.2 per cent. increase and that no authority could get more than a 6.5 per cent. increase.
Changes in the method of determining SSAs are contained in circular letters to local authorities, dated 2 December 1997, 2 December 1998, 25 November 1999 and 27 November 2000, copies of which are in the Library. For convenience, copies of the relevant extracts have been placed in the Library.
The following table shows the net percentage change in SSAs against adjusted SSAs for the previous year for Devon and east Devon over the period, together with the percentage change due to changes in methodology. It is inappropriate to compare actual SSA between years because of changes to the services financed by grants allocated using SSAs. Adjusted SSAs enable a like-for- like comparison between years.
|Percentage change against adjusted SSAs||3.2||5.7||5.0||5.0|
|Of which: percentage change due to methodology||-0.7||-0.6||0.0||0.0|
|Percentage change against adjusted SSAs||-1.0||4.3||2.9||5.0|
|Of which: percentage change due to methodology||-0.8||-0.6||0.0||0.0|
It is not possible to perform a similar analysis for aggregate external finance.
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Jim Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions, pursuant to his answer of 16 November 2001, Official Report, column 914W, on the local government finance settlement, what plans he has made regarding the announcement of the provisional local government finance settlement. 
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