|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Mr. Ivor Caplin): The key targets have been set for the chief executive of the Armed Forces Personnel Administration Agency (AFPAA) for the financial year 200506. The targets build upon progress made by the agency since it formed on 1 April 1997 and reflect the importance of achieving joint personnel administration implementation whilst maintaining current outputs. Furthermore they provide customers with assurance that, in focusing on joint personnel administration and higher profile services such as pay and pensions, AFPAA will continue to give sufficient attention to the broad range of other outputs.
The Minister for Housing and Planning (Keith Hill): In July 2002 my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister announced that he would be making an additional £350 million available to local authorities over the period 200306 to improve the delivery of planning services. Since then, we have announced that the Planning Delivery Grant (PDG) will continue, with a further £255 million being made available in the period to 2008. We have now decided the basis on which we will distribute the majority of the Planning Delivery Grant of £170 million in 200506 and will be informing recipients of their allocations.
The grant is performance related. Our aim is to enhance the resourcing of the planning system in a way that drives performance improvement and ensures effective delivery of our objectives for sustainable communities. It is specifically targeted towards meeting the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's public service agreements (PSA) 5 and 6. PSA 5 aims to achieve a better balance between housing availability and demand. PSA 6 requires all authorities to have local development frameworks in place (in accordance with agreed local development schemes) and to meet the best value development control targets by the end of 200607.
I can confirm today the amount of grant to be distributed to authorities in 200506 is £162.12 million. It will be paid to local planning authorities at a district and county level, national parks, regional planning bodies, the Broads Authority and the Greater London authority. A small amount of the grant, £4.73 million, will be top-sliced to support a number of national initiatives directly related to improving local authority planning performance. A smaller amount, £3 million, will be allocated to the Planning Inspectorate for their work on local development plan preparation.
Local authorities are rewarded for both improvement towards and achievement of best value development control targets in the period October 2003 to September 2004. Grant allocations are enhanced for local authorities within the high housing demand and growth areas as identified in the Communities Plan in proportion to their contribution towards delivering net additions to the housing stock. Pathfinder authorities receive an allocation of £160,000 in recognition of the low demand for housing in their sub-regions. Local authorities are also awarded £5,000 for each enterprise area within their boundary, up to a maximum of £100,000 for any single authority. Local authorities will be paid by determination under Section 31 of the Local Government Act 2003, copies of which will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses, along with a detailed spreadsheet showing the breakdown of the allocations for individual authorities.
For the first time, local planning authorities will receive payments in recognition of their online planning provision. The "e-planning" allocations will range from £20,658.68 to £100,000 to all authorities satisfying a minimum of 10 out of 21 e-planning criteria, with the highest awards going to those who achieve all 21. Also for the first time, specific allocations will be made for performance on "county matters" applications in
22 Mar 2005 : Column 52WS
relation to minerals and waste, enabling county councils and those other authorities who deal with such applications to receive PDG.
An element of the grant that rewards authorities for submitting a Local Development Scheme (LDS) to Government offices will follow later this year but cannot be included with this allocation as the deadline for LDS submission, 28 March 2005, has not yet passed.
In the first year of the Planning Delivery Grant (200304) grant was paid without condition. In 200405 two conditions were imposed on PDG payments. This year, these conditions will remain, to ensure that the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has the power to act appropriately to partly withhold payment or recover part or all of grant paid where there are concerns over the accuracy or proven inaccuracies in the information on which allocations were made. I may consider withholding up to 10 per cent. of the grant allocated to authorities whose Best Value Performance Indicator 109 (BVPI 109) has been qualified by the auditor until we have established to our satisfaction the reason for the qualification and the reliability of the data on which grant was allocated. Following this I may seek to recover some or all of the monies paid to those authorities.
The second condition relates to performance on appeals, and this year it has been strengthened. Where an authority's performance on appeal is 40 per cent. worse than the national average (33.81 per cent. of appeals upheld against the authority), 10 per cent. of their development control allocation will be abated. Where this performance is 50 per cent. worse than the average, this abatement will increase to 20 per cent. of the development control allocation. This condition underlines the continuing importance we place on quality in decision making.
Grant allocations are not ring-fenced and authorities have complete discretion in the way they spend this money, although this year, 25 per cent. of the total grant paid to any individual authority will be limited to capital spending. The remaining 75 per cent. can be spent by the local authority on resource or capital budgets.
Regional Planning Bodies receive grant to support their work preparing regional spatial strategies and in recognition of the additional work which the strengthened regional planning function involves. In 200506 this totals just under £7 million. The Greater London authority (GLA) receives grant in recognition of its plan making responsibilities. The award is based on the GLA's performance against its business plan, and is given in recognition of work in bringing forward alteration of the waste plan, the housing capacity study, and progress against the annual monitoring report.
Decisions have yet to be taken on the basis of the grant for 200607. However, the requirement to meet PSA 5 and 6 means that the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister will continue to link grant awards to improved planning performance so as to incentivise authorities to reach and exceed the development control handling targets while maintaining high decision quality, incentivise delivery of housing in areas of high housing demand and provide greater e-planning provision. Authorities should be aware that they will need to
22 Mar 2005 : Column 53WS
continue to secure improvement in these areas to receive grant in future years. We will monitor performance in all aspects of Planning Delivery
Grant in order to inform future decisions on this. We will consult on full proposals for allocations before any final decisions are taken. The announcement of the grant for 200607 will be brought forward to later in 2005, following the consultation process. This is in line with other announcements of grant, and will help to increase certainty in budget setting processes.
Planning fees will be increased on 1 April 2005, to enable authorities to move closer to recovery of costs on planning applications. The increases were consulted on in a paper I published on 15 December 2004, Official Report, columns 13537WS. They will average 39 per cent. and raise an estimated £68 million in additional revenue, will be spread proportionately to the types of applications. The fees for a householder extension will rise from £110 to £135, whilst the maximum fee for a major development will rise from £11,000 to £50,000.
Fee increases are part of the package of resources, along with Planning Delivery Grant, that are designed to improve the quality of planning services and support the changes which the government is introducing as part of its reform of the planning system. For some time, it has been the case that the costs of handling planning applications have been significantly higher than the fees associated with them. These increases address the imbalance and provide authorities with a level of resources which we expect to see leading to improvements in the quality of services.
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|