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Written Question
Planning Permission
21 Jan 2021, 5:39 p.m.

Questioner: Steve Reed

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, pursuant to the Answer of 11 January 2021 to Question 133882 on planning permission, how long on average the 31 referenced holding directions have been in place.

Answer (Christopher Pincher)

Of the 31 holding directions in place as of the 8 January, 3 are no longer in place. There are currently (as at 19 January 2021) 28 Article 31 Holding Directions in place. Directions are often used in respect of controversial or complex planning applications, and the average length of time these 28 Directions have been in place is 132 days. Directions restrict local authorities from granting planning permission for planning applications. They do not prevent authorities from considering applications and forming a view on them. Ministers will generally not consider requests to call applications in until authorities have formed a view on them.


Written Question
Homelessness: Coronavirus
21 Jan 2021, 5:31 p.m.

Questioner: Charlotte Nichols

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, if he will announce further funding for the Everyone In scheme.

Answer (Eddie Hughes)

Given the new variant of COVID-19, and the new national lockdown, we are redoubling our efforts to ensure that people who sleep rough are kept as safe as possible and that we do everything we can to protect the NHS. This is backed by £10 million to protect rough sleepers and ensure their wider health needs are addressed.

We have asked all local authorities to ensure that even more rough sleepers are safely accommodated, and will be asking that this opportunity is actively used to make sure that all rough sleepers are registered with a GP where they are not already and are factored into local area vaccination plans, in line with JCVI prioritisation for COVID-19 vaccinations.

We have taken huge steps working with local authorities and their partners to protect rough sleepers during the pandemic. This work has not stopped, and through Everyone In, by November we had supported around 33,000 people with nearly 10,000 in emergency accommodation and over 23,000 already moved on into longer-term accommodation.

In total, we are spending over £700 million in 2020/21 on homelessness and rough sleeping.


Written Question
Building Safety Fund
21 Jan 2021, 5:29 p.m.

Questioner: Thangam Debbonaire

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, how much and what proportion of the Building Safety Fund has been paid out to date.

Answer (Christopher Pincher)

The latest Building Safety Fund: Registration Statistics published on 21 January 2021, which includes data on funding allocation, can be found at: www.gov.uk/guidance/remediation-of-non-acm-buildings#building-safety-fund-registration-statistics .


Written Question
Flats: Insulation
21 Jan 2021, 5:29 p.m.

Questioner: Gareth Thomas

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what assessment he has made of the effect of the EWS1 process on the sale of flats in 2020; and if he will make a statement.

Answer (Christopher Pincher)

The Department is aware that the EWS1 process has been used more broadly than intended, which has affected the sale of some flats. The Government is working with industry to support a more proportionate approach to EWS1 use, and awaits the results of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors consultation which will help to make clearer the circumstances when EWS1 valuations are, and are not, to be requested.


Written Question
Buildings: Insulation
21 Jan 2021, 5:28 p.m.

Questioner: Gareth Thomas

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what recent discussions he has had with the Royal Institute for Chartered Surveyors about the EWS1 process; and if he will make a statement.

Answer (Christopher Pincher)

The Department has regular discussions with the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and awaits the results of the RICS consultation, which will help to make clearer the circumstances when EWS1 valuations are, and are not, to be requested.


Written Question
Planning Permission: Coronavirus
21 Jan 2021, 5:27 p.m.

Questioner: Catherine West

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what plans he has to extend planning permissions set to expire during the 2021 covid-19 lockdown.

Answer (Christopher Pincher)

The Business and Planning Act 2020 introduced measures to enable certain planning permissions and listed building consents in England which had lapsed or were due to lapse during 2020 to be extended to 1 May 2021.

The measures provide for the power to extend the eligibility date for permissions and the time period for implementation. This is being kept under review at this time.


Written Question
Housing: Mortgages
21 Jan 2021, 5:27 p.m.

Questioner: Andrew Gwynne

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, pursuant to the Answer of 16 December 2020 to Question 128640 on Flats: Insulation, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that mortgage lenders do not require EWS1 forms for (a) terraced houses, (b) houses with cladding, (c) houses that have been converted into flats, (d) maisonettes and (e) listed buildings.

Answer (Christopher Pincher)

The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) continues to work with wider industry, including lenders, on new guidance for surveyors which should make clearer the circumstances when EWS1 valuations are, and are not, to be requested.

The RICS consultation ends on 25 January 2021: https://www.rics.org/uk/surveying-profession/contribute/consultations/valuation-of-properties-in-multi-storey-multi-occupancy-residential-buildings-with-cladding-1st-edition-guidance-note/ .


Written Question
Housing: Safety
21 Jan 2021, 5:26 p.m.

Questioner: Andrew Gwynne

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, pursuant to the Answer of 11 January 2021 to Question 131202 on Housing: Insulation, what recent assessment he has made of the effect of the January 2020 consolidated guidance 'Building safety advice for building owners, including fire doors' on trends in (a) sales of flats, and (b) sales in the wider housing market.

Answer (Christopher Pincher)

This information is not held. The consolidated advice note is non-statutory advice for building owners about the actions they should take to ensure their buildings are safe.


Written Question
Planning Permission: Forests
21 Jan 2021, 5:25 p.m.

Questioner: Ed Davey

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what plans he has to include provisions to protect woodland in his proposals for planning reform.

Answer (Christopher Pincher)

In Planning for the Future we proposed a quicker and simpler framework for assessing environmental effects: one which does not compromise on environmental standards, and indeed encourages opportunities for environmental enhancements to be identified and pursued early in the development process. Proposals will leave an inheritance of environmental improvements with environmental assets protected, more green spaces provided, more sustainable development supported and new homes that are more energy efficient


Though we are still considering the responses to the White Paper consultation, I can confirm that the protections for landscape, habitat and wildlife will remain in force, including ancient woodland, and ancient and veteran trees, and reforms will support the implementation of the proposals in the Environment Bill. Consultation on the White Paper closed on 29 October 2020. The Government will publish its response following consideration of all the feedback received.


Written Question
Local Government: Meetings
21 Jan 2021, 11:19 a.m.

Questioner: Steve Reed

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, whether he plans to bring forward legislation to allow local authorities to continue meeting remotely after May 2021.

Answer (Luke Hall)

To extend the facility for councils to continue to meet remotely, or in hybrid form after 7 May 2021 would require primary legislation.

There is no option to extend the current regulations under the Coronavirus Act 2020 as section 78 (3) contains the sunset date of 7 May 2021.

There is considerable pressure on the Government’s legislative programme, but the Government is carefully considering next steps in this area.


Written Question
Buildings: Insulation
20 Jan 2021, 5:03 p.m.

Questioner: Thangam Debbonaire

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what criteria the Government will use to determine financial support for leaseholders affected by ACM cladding.

Answer (Christopher Pincher)

Following the Department’s intervention, the remediation of over 50 per cent of privately owned high-rise residential buildings with unsafe ACM cladding is being paid for by building owners and developers, or through warranty or insurance claims, without passing the costs to residents.

For the remaining buildings the Government has stepped in with £600 million in funding in both the private and social sector ensuring that no leaseholders in these buildings will have to pay to replace unsafe ACM cladding. We are working on further financing solutions to fund wider remediation costs.


Written Question
Shared Ownership: Insulation
20 Jan 2021, 5:03 p.m.

Questioner: Simon Clarke

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what steps he is taking to help people with shared ownership of a property who are unable to dispose of the property as a result of remedial action being needed by the landlord owing to the presence of combustible cladding.

Answer (Christopher Pincher)

It is unacceptable for leaseholders, including those in shared ownership, to have to worry about the cost of fixing historic safety defects in their buildings that they did not cause.

Where developers or building owners have been unable or unwilling to pay, we have introduced funding schemes providing £1.6 billion to accelerate the pace of work and meet the costs of remediating the highest risk and most expensive defects – ACM cladding and other unsafe cladding systems like High Pressure Laminates.

The Government is determined to remove barriers to fixing historic defects and identify financing solutions that help to protect leaseholders, including those participating in shared ownership schemes, whilst also helping to protect the taxpayer. The Government has asked Michael Wade to accelerate work on a long-term solution. We will provide an update as soon as we are in a position to do so.


Written Question
Building Safety Fund
20 Jan 2021, 5:02 p.m.

Questioner: Hilary Benn

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, whether state aid forms are still required from leaseholders in respect of applications to the Building Safety Fund now that the UK has left the EU; and if he will make a statement.

Answer (Christopher Pincher)

The EU State aid rules no longer apply in the United Kingdom, except for aid in scope of the Northern Ireland Protocol. Subsidies must instead meet the terms of the United Kingdom/European Union Trade and Co-operation Agreement (TCA) as well as the other Free Trade Agreements we have reached with the rest of the world.

Any changes to schemes or new schemes would need to be in line with the TCA Principles to the extent that these apply. The Government has published guidance on the subsidy control requirements from 1 January which is available on Gov.uk.

The Department is considering the implications of the new subsidy control regime in regard to the Building Safety Fund and the Private Sector ACM Cladding Remediation Fund and will provide an update to applicants shortly.


Written Question
Evictions: Coronavirus
20 Jan 2021, 5:01 p.m.

Questioner: Caroline Lucas

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, if he will amend the The Public Health (Coronavirus) (Protection from Eviction) (England) Regulations 2021 to restore the definition of substantial rent arrears to mean 9 months’ arrears at the date on which the order for possession was granted and which pre-date 23 March 2020.

Answer (Christopher Pincher)

The Government has no plans to amend the definition of substantial rent arrears in the Public Health (Coronavirus) (Protection from Eviction) (England) Regulations 2021 at this present time, but the measures are being kept under review.

The Government believes that it is proportionate to widen the rent arrears exemption to the ban on the enforcement of residential evictions to cases where a court is satisfied that a possession order was granted on the grounds of rent arrears and where more than six months of rent is outstanding. This change is intended to balance the effect of the ongoing restrictions on landlords with the need to continue to protect tenants.

Landlords must provide tenants with notice and obtain a possession order from the courts before bailiffs will enforce an eviction. Landlords are required to provide six months’ notice in all but the most serious circumstances and the courts have put in place new rules and arrangements to respond to the pandemic. For the exemption from the ban on bailiff enforcement to apply, six full months of rent needs to be outstanding and the landlord must have a possession order granted under a rent arrears ground. Bailiffs have also been asked not to carry out evictions where someone is self-isolating or clinically extremely vulnerable.

These protections are on top of the unprecedented financial package the Government has put in place, including support for businesses to pay staff salaries and strengthening the welfare safety net with billions of pounds.


Written Question
Housing: Insulation
20 Jan 2021, 4:59 p.m.

Questioner: Hilary Benn

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what assessment he has made of the (a) adequacy of capacity in the building industry to replace unsafe cladding and (b) potential effect on that capacity of levels of availability of professional indemnity insurance; and if he will make a statement.

Answer (Christopher Pincher)

a) From the outset of the Building Safety Programme, the Department has engaged industry to ensure sufficient capacity exists to meet demand and to have arrangements in place to address any blockages in the supply chain.

We are providing £600 million to speed up the removal of the most dangerous ACM cladding, making homes safer, quicker. We are also providing £1 billion to remove other forms of unsafe cladding.

Where funding alone has not been enough to increase the pace of remediation we have provided direct expert support to projects


b) Government is aware that some construction professionals, and fire safety professionals in particular, are struggling to obtain appropriate professional indemnity insurance (PII). Fire safety professionals must have adequate PII cover to be able to undertake their essential role in helping to remediate multi-storey residential buildings with unsafe cladding.

Government is engaging with the insurance industry to investigate solutions that improve the availability of PII for key professionals.


Written Question
Planning Permission
20 Jan 2021, 4:58 p.m.

Questioner: Steve Reed

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, pursuant to the Answer of 11 January 2021 to Question 133882 on planning permission, which planning applications the 31 referenced holding directions correspond to.

Answer (Christopher Pincher)

Of the 31 holding directions in place as of the 8 January, 3 are no longer in place. There are currently (as at 18 January 2021) 28 Article 31 holding directions in place, which relate to the following planning applications


LPA

LPA Application Reference

Bristol City Council

20/01930/F

East Lindsay District Council

S/090/00615

N/031/01113/20

S/002/01542/20

S/002/01541/20

S/002/00079/20

N/031/01131/20

N/031/01128/20

N/031/01119/20

N/134/00775/20

S/090/01117/20

N/084/00587/20

N/031/1127/20

S/090/01122/20

N/031/01129/20

S/090/00771/20

S/090/01120/20

S/090/00613

N/110/00906/20

Enfield Borough Council

19/01988/FUL

Greater London Authority

PA/14/2425

4172

Halton Borough Council

17/00468/FUL

Hammersmith & Fulham Borough Council

2020/01283/FUL

Havering Borough Council

P1604.17

Luton Borough Council

19/00428/EIA

North Warwickshire Borough Council

PAP/2018/0140

Stevenage Borough Council

19/00743/FPM


Written Question
Regional Planning and Development
20 Jan 2021, 3:14 p.m.

Questioner: David Linden

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, with reference to the contribution of 5 October 2020 of the Minister of State for Regional Growth and Local Government, Official Report, Column 599, when he plans to publish the Devolution and Local Renewal White Paper; and whether that White Paper will apply to Scotland.

Answer (Luke Hall)

Levelling up all areas of the country remains at the centre of the Government’s agenda. We want to devolve and decentralise to give more power to local communities, providing an opportunity for all places to level up. That is why we intend to bring forward the English Devolution and Local Recovery White Paper in due course, detailing how the UK Government will partner with places across the UK to build a sustainable economic recovery.


Written Question
Business Premises: Coronavirus
20 Jan 2021, 3:14 p.m.

Questioner: Alan Campbell

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what plans the Government has to introduce legislative proposals to further protect commercial tenants unable to trade throughout the covid-19 lockdown.

Answer (Luke Hall)

The Government recognises that Covid-19 is having a significant impact on businesses. The Government has announced an unprecedented package of support for business in response to the Covid-19 crisis. The Chancellor announced on 5 January that closed businesses would be eligible for a further one-off payment of up to £9,000. This is the Closed Business Lockdown Payment. An additional £500 million in discretionary funding for local authorities is also being made available. This is in addition to £1.1 billion in discretionary funding that has also been allocated to local authorities to support businesses.

Government has introduced a range of legislative measures to protect commercial tenants.

Section 82 of the Coronavirus Act 2020 provides for a moratorium on forfeitures of commercial leases due to the non-payment of rent accrued during the pandemic. This means that landlords of commercial properties will not be able to evict tenants for not paying rent accrued since March 2020.

The Government has also extended the restrictions on the service of statutory demands and winding-up petitions implemented through the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020 in line with the moratorium’s new expiry date. This prevents creditors petitioning for a company to be wound up on the grounds it cannot pay its debts, unless the court permits and is satisfied that the inability to pay debts is not as a result of Covid-19.

The Government has also extended the restrictions on landlords’ abilities to recover rental arrears through the seizure of tenants’ goods through the use of Commercial Rent Arrears Recovery.

The Government has published a voluntary Code of Practice to encourage constructive dialogue between tenants and landlords; and is clear that those tenants who can pay in full should do so, those who cannot should pay what they can, and those landlords who can grant concessions should do so. We will publish further guidance to support negotiations between landlords and tenants in due course.


Written Question
Local Government: Meetings
20 Jan 2021, 3:11 p.m.

Questioner: Layla Moran

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, whether councils will continue meeting remotely after May 2021.

Answer (Luke Hall)

To extend the facility for councils to continue to meet remotely, or in hybrid form after 7 May 2021 would require primary legislation.

There is no option to extend the current regulations under the Coronavirus Act 2020 as section 78 (3) contains the sunset date of 7 May 2021.

There is considerable pressure on the Government’s legislative programme, but the Government is carefully considering next steps in this area.


Written Question
Local Government Finance: Leicestershire
20 Jan 2021, 3:11 p.m.

Questioner: Luke Evans

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, how much Rural Services Delivery Grant funding he has allocated to Leicestershire in (a) 2018, (b) 2019 and (c) 2020; and what plans he has to increase that funding allocation.

Answer (Luke Hall)

The allocations of Rural Services Delivery Grant to local authorities in Leicestershire in the years 2018-19 to 2020-21 are published here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/core-spending-power-provisional-local-government-finance-settlement-2021-to-2022 . I am pleased to say that under our proposals as part of the provisional local government finance settlement for 2021-22, the national total for Rural Services Delivery Grant will be increased from £81 million to £85 million.


Written Question
Leasehold
20 Jan 2021, 1:26 p.m.

Questioner: Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, when he plans to bring forward legislative proposals on leasehold reform.

Answer (Eddie Hughes)

The Government remains committed to promoting fairness and transparency for homeowners and ensuring that consumers are protected from abuse and poor service


Legislation to set future ground rents to zero will be brought forward in the upcoming session of Parliament. This is the first part of seminal two-part reforming legislation in this Parliament. We will bring forward a response to the remaining Law Commission recommendations, including commonhold, in due course.


Written Question
Homelessness: Coronavirus
20 Jan 2021, 1:25 p.m.

Questioner: Neil Coyle

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, pursuant to the Answer of 11 January 2021 to Question 130094, how many and what proportion of the 29,000 people housed through the Everyone In scheme were subject to No Recourse to Public Funds restrictions.

Answer (Eddie Hughes)

Through Everyone In, by November we had supported around 33,000 people with nearly 10,000 in emergency accommodation and over 23,000 already moved on into longer-term accommodation. 

We are aware that some of these individuals housed during Everyone In will have No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) restrictions. The data and breakdown requested is currently not available.

The rules as to eligibility relating to immigration status, including for those with NRPF, have not changed.

Local authorities must use their judgement in assessing what support they may lawfully give to each person on an individual basis, considering that person’s specific circumstances and support needs.

Local authorities already regularly make such judgements on accommodating individuals who might otherwise be ineligible, during extreme weather for example, where there is a risk to life.

Local authorities may also provide basic safety net support if it is established that there is a genuine care need that does not arise solely from destitution, for example, where there are community care needs, migrants with serious health problems or family cases where the wellbeing of a child is in question.


Written Question
Homelessness: Coronavirus
20 Jan 2021, 1:24 p.m.

Questioner: Neil Coyle

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, how many of the 23,000 people supported into longer-term accommodation through the Everyone In scheme were in each (a) local authority and (b) type of tenancy or accommodation.

Answer (Eddie Hughes)

The Government published a breakdown by local authority of the people supported, including those who have been supported into longer-term accommodation as part of our data release in September. This is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-emergency-accommodation-survey-data-september-2020.

We are funding both interim and long-term accommodation this year to make sure that as many people as possible who have been supported during the pandemic do not return to the streets. On the 29 October, we announced funding of more than £150 million to deliver more than 3,300 units of long-term, supported, move-on accommodation for rough sleepers across the country. We are now working with our delivery partners at Homes England and the Greater London Authority to ensure these schemes are delivered at pace.

We also announced the type of tenancy and accommodation will depend on the individual’s needs. We will help ensure that people can access the services and support that are appropriate to their needs.

This individual approach is why local authorities are best placed to allocate individuals to appropriate accommodation. Interventions should be aimed at rapidly delivering outcomes which meet individuals’ housing and support needs.


Written Question
English Language: Education
19 Jan 2021, 5:27 p.m.

Questioner: Felicity Buchan

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, whether it is his policy that English Language Schools that have been forced to close under the covid-19 restrictions announced in January 2021 are eligible for grant funding coordinated by local authorities.

Answer (Luke Hall)

We have made an additional £500 million available via the Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) announced by the Chancellor on 5 January. This builds on the £1.1 billion already allocated following the second lockdown in November 2020.

This further grant funding is designed to support businesses that are severely impacted by the new Covid-19 restrictions. Local authorities have discretion to use this funding to support businesses in the way they see fit, and to determine which businesses are.

Local authorities must be assured that businesses applying for grants: a) have been mandated to close as a result of national restrictions, b) are solvent, c) are is eligible to pay business rates, and d) that the business in question is able to meet any other criteria laid out in the guidance. Where businesses do not meet this criteria, local authorities have the ability to provide discretionary grant funding via the Additional Restrictions Grant.


Written Question
Local Government: Climate Change
19 Jan 2021, 5:24 p.m.

Questioner: Thangam Debbonaire

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what (a) long term financial support and (b) expert advice he is making available to local councils that have declared climate emergencies to enable them to act on their climate emergency plans.

Answer (Luke Hall)

Half of all English councils have committed to reducing their direct emissions to zero by 2030, enormously supporting the ambition set by the Prime Minister. Local action can accelerate deployment of new technologies and drive significant cost efficiencies through strategic coordination, including vital new energy and transport infrastructure


As we continue to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic we need to ensure that our recovery plans support our climate change response. By building back greener and better, we can achieve our climate goals, protect our biodiversity and natural capital, and sustain climate-resilient economic development, all in a fair and inclusive way


Councils are uniquely positioned to align local needs, opportunities and resources to deliver strategic interventions at all scales. We will continue to work with councils to enable them to build back greener and better locally, through an effective planning framework and devolution


A significant amount of support has been made available for councils to act on climate change, from heat networks to cycle paths to flood defences. To give a few examples:

Finally, MHCLG is supporting clean growth initiatives through existing funding pots, including the Towns Fund and Local Growth Fund, and local institutions are using strategic plans to support the UK’s net zero by 2050 commitment. My officials are working with other Departments including BEIS and DEFRA to ensure that green recovery and clean growth form a key part of our emerging local economic recovery planning.