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Consultants

Volume 455: debated on Thursday 25 January 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government which external consultancy (a) firms and (b) organisations her Department has commissioned (i) to conduct research and (ii) to provide advice in relation to (A) council tax and (B) home information packs since 2002. (103842)

Since 2002 my Department or its predecessors has commissioned no external firms or organisations to conduct research or to provide advice specifically on council tax. Research for the balance of funding review did, however, touch on council tax within a wider consideration of the financing of local government. The research commissioned may be found on my Department’s website at:

http://www.local.odpm.gov.uk/finance/balance/rsg.htm

The research is as follows:

University of Cardiff—International lessons on the balance of funding

NOP World—Deliberative public focus groups on the balance of funding

University of Plymouth—Relationship between the balance of funding and voter turnout in local government elections.

The home information pack programme is bringing about major changes to the multi-billion pound home buying and selling industry to the benefit of consumers and the environment. The work has included developing and testing the home condition report and the energy performance certificate; putting in place a quality assurance framework to protect consumers and guarantee standards; developing the necessary systems and explaining the changes to the public and industry stakeholders. This has required a wide range of technical and professional expertise to implement that the Department either does not have or does not have in sufficient quantity.

For details of the organisations and firms employed, I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 8 November 2006, Official Report, columns 1568-89W.