HC Deb 16 June 1997 vol 296 cc24-5W
Mr. Dawson

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to improve services for children who are looked after by local authorities; and by what means young people in care will be consulted about proposed changes. [3401]

Mr. Boateng

The Children Act 1989, and other relevant legislation, gives local authorities the responsibility for looking after children in public care.

The Department supports them in their role in a variety of ways, for example: statutory guidance; professional and practice guidance; and the "Looking After Children" system and materials which provides local authorities who chose to use it with a framework to capture information about the development of individual children to ensure that their needs are properly met within a care plan which involves the child, their families and carers. The Department also commissions and disseminates a range of research.

A reports is expected in the summer from Sir William Utting on safeguards for children living away from home, including those in public care. In considering Sir William's report the Government will take the opportunity of discussing with local authorities and other interests, including those representing children, what further steps might be usefully taken to improve services for children who are looked after by local authorities.

Mr. Dawson

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many children were looked after by local authorities in England and Wales on 1 April 1997 broken down by local authority and type of placement; how many children left care in each authority in 1996–97; and how many of those moved to secure tenancies in(a) the public housing sector and (b) the private housing sector. [3400]

Mr. Boateng

Information on the number of children looked after by each local authority in England at 31 March 1995, including types of placement and the number of children who ceased to be looked after, is given in Tables 1 and 4 in the publication "Children Looked After by local authorities, year ending 31 March 1995, England", copies of which are available in the Library. The corresponding figures for the year ending 31 March 1996 are due to be published in August 1997. Local authorities have until 30 June 1997 to return their data on children looked after at 31 March 1997 to the Department of Health; this information is therefore unavailable at present.

Information on the subsequent accommodation of young people who have ceased to be looked after is not collected centrally.

Statistics on children looked after in Wales are a matter for my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Wales.

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