HC Deb 08 March 2004 vol 418 cc1344-6W
Mr. Hoban

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if he will make a statement on(a) the (i) extent and (ii) duration of funding of the Children Fund's partnership with Portsmouth city council and (b) the impact of changes to that funding on existing projects. [152309]

Margaret Hodge

Portsmouth Children's Fund began operating in July 2001 and is approved until March 2006. It was allocated £1,010,000 per annum.

In its first two years the Children's Fund programme had a record of underspend. Efforts to ensure that all the money was spent have now led to a projected overspend. Revised allocations to some partnerships for 2003–04 were agreed following a mid year review of expenditure. This will ensure that the programme lives within its financial limits this year while honouring its commitments. However, Portsmouth's budget for 2003–04 was not revised following the mid year review.

For 2004–05 we have agreed revised allocations to all partnerships totalling £160 million. This is just below the originally announced total of £164.6 million. Portsmouth's revised allocation for 2004–05 is £981,768. We announced these allocations on 27 February and we are currently working with partnerships, through our regional teams, to assess the impact. The Portsmouth programme has welcomed the freedom to bring forward underspend from 2003–04 into 2004–05 to support its programme. I have made some provision available in the form of a contingency fund which partnerships can apply to, if a serious risk to service delivery in key programmes remains an issue.

I will not be taking final decisions on 2005–06 until I have consulted partnerships and discussed the future of the Children's Fund with key partners, in particular, the potential transition to children's trusts. However, I recognise that partnerships are keen to get some indication of funding levels for 2005–06, in order to help them plan effectively. Therefore I have advised partnerships that the budget for 2005–06 will be no less than £110 million. I will announce the final allocation in autumn 2004, following the outcome of the 2004 Spending Review.

Mr. Steen

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what changes have been made to central government funding allocations for the Children's Fund in this financial year, broken down by region; what assessment he has made of the impact such changes will have on services provided by the Children's Fund; and if he will make a statement. [153242]

Margaret Hodge

[holding answer 9 February 2004]: The 2003–04 mid year review of expenditure identified approximately £12.5 million in underpsend from quarters 1 and 2 that could be redirected from Children's Fund partnerships. This figure was collated nationally and has not been broken down by region.

This action was taken to ensure the programme kept within its budget. The Department has assessed the impact of the review, working with representatives from the main voluntary sector organisations involved in the Fund, the LGA and the ADSS as well as with partnerships' ability to meet contractural obligations, we revisited them. Furthermore, we set aside some money to assist where there was a likelihood of premature closure of services.

Underspend taken back in the mid year review has meant revised allocations to some partnerships this year and ensures the programme can live within its financial limits while honouring its commitments.

Mr. Goodman

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what programmes in the Wycombe constituency receive money from the Buckinghamshire Children's Fund. [159260]

Margaret Hodge

[holding answer 5 March 2004]: The following projects are currently receiving money from Buckinghamshire Children's Fund in the Wycombe constituency.

  • Ashill School project to supporting children during playtime;
  • Castlefield play worker project;
  • Green Street-Saturday school for children for Asian community;
  • Acacia Saturday school for African/Caribbean children across Wycombe;
  • Cresswicks Secondary School Heartstone project, which tackles racism;
  • South Bucks Young Carers project;
  • NCH project working with children with disabilities;
  • Bucks University for Young People project-run classes in Wycombe;
  • A crime prevention Youth Inclusion Support Panel and Restorative Justice project are in planning, expected to begin next year.