HC Deb 15 May 2003 vol 405 cc414-5W
Dr. Cable

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what adjustments have been made to central Government financial support for councils to enable them to assume obligations for children in prisons within their boundaries under the Children Act 1989; [112532]

(2) what assessment he has made of the financial implications for local authorities of their responsibilities under the Children Act 1989 for children in prisons within their boundary. [112533]

Jacqui Smith

Prison Service establishments are one of a number of institutions that lead to 'out of area' children creating demands on local services in the areas where the institutions are situated. The duties of councils with social services responsibilities towards children, including those in prisons, are set out in the Children Act 1989 and its associated regulations and guidance. In order to assist councils in making their decisions, the Government are committed to reducing the level of ring fencing. As the Local Government White Paper "Strong Local Leadership—Quality Public Services" noted, too high a level of ring fencing undermines local management and democracy, leading to inefficiency in service delivery.

The Formula Spending Share (F'SS) was last reviewed in 2002 with the new formula being introduced from April 2003, to create the current children's distribution of children's allocations. The FSS will now be stable until 2006–07.