HC Deb 26 April 2004 vol 420 c809W
Mr. Cousins

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if he will set out the sequence of changes in financial allocations to the Newcastle Children's Fund Partnership for 2004–05; whether the clawback of funds in the 2003–04 year has been reversed; what the outline annual planning figures are for the partnership for(a) 2004–05 and (b) 2005–06; and whether underspending in earlier years can be added to future planning totals. [161949]

Margaret Hodge

Newcastle Children's Fund has an allocation of £1,215,059 for 2004–05. This is a small reduction from the original allocation of £1,250,000. The partnership had £65,135 identified as genuine underspend in the 2003–04 mid-year review and this was reallocated by the Department. I am keen to give partnerships as much flexibility as possible within Government Accounting Rules. This means I have restored flexibility to re-profile from one quarter to the next during the year and I am allowing partnerships to carry forward end year underspend.

We are also giving partnerships more flexibility in delivering their commitment on joint working with local Youth Offending Teams to prevent crime. We have moved away from the rigid menu approach, although we are continuing to emphasise the need to focus on effective projects, such as Youth, Inclusion Support Panels and Junior Youth Inclusion Panels. Where partnerships already have a strong focus on tackling antisocial behaviour and youth crime, they will be able to count those activities towards their collaborative working with Yots.

The allocation for 2005–06 will be announced by August 2004. However we recognise that partnerships are keen to get some indication of funding levels for 2005–06, in order to help them plan effectively. The Secretary of State has therefore indicated to partnerships at this stage that the budget for 2005–06 will be no less than £110 million. We hope this provides a clear framework for partnerships to plan and maintain Children's Fund activity right through to the end of 2005–06, the end of the current Spending Review period. Beyond that, the Chancellor, in his Budget statement, has signalled a commitment to the Children's Fund until 2008.