HC Deb 11 May 2004 vol 421 cc293-4W
Ms Dari Taylor

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) how many(a) Sure Start centres and (b) Early Excellence centres have been created in Stockton, South; [171452]

(2) how many new nurseries have been established in Stockton, South since 1997. [171454]

Margaret Hodge

There are five Sure Start local programmes in Stockton-on-Tees: Sure Start Hardwick, Mile House and Roseworth; Sure Start Newtown, Portrack and Tilery; Sure Start Parkfield and Victoria; Sure Start Mandale Village and Stainsby and Sure Start Billingham. Of these five programmes, two are based within the Stockton, South constituency: Sure Start Mandate Village and Stainsby and Sure Start Parkfield and Victoria, both approved by the Sure Start Unit in December 2002. There are no Early Excellence Centres in Stockton-on-Tees.

Stockton-on-Tees borough council has responsibility for determining local need for nursery provision in Stockton and holding information on current provision. Under the neighbourhood nurseries scheme, 340 new nursery places have been created in Stockton, with 100 of these places being based within Stockton, South.

Stockton-on-Tees borough council is currently developing plans to implement children's centres in the 20 per cent. most disadvantaged wards; Stockton, South will be included in these plans.

Ms Dari Taylor

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many(a) free nursery and (b) pre-school places were available for (i) 3 and (ii) 4-year-olds in Stockton, South in each of the last seven years. [171453]

Margaret Hodge

The information is not available in the form requested.

Figures on the number of free nursery education places taken up by 3 and 4-year-olds in Stockton-on-Tees local education authority area are shown in the table.

The latest figures on provision for 3 and 4-year-olds in England were published in a Statistical Bulletin Provision for children under five years of age in England-January 2003' which is available on the Department's website www.dfes.gov.uk/rsaateway/.

From April 2004, six months ahead of our original target, all 3-year-olds in England whose parents want one, are eligible for a free, part-time early education place.

Ms Dari Taylor

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) how many childcare places have been created in Stockton, South since 1997; [171455]

(2) how many children in Stockton, South have gained from the National Childcare Strategy. [171477]

Margaret Hodge

The Department is unable to provide details of childcare places for Stockton, South. However, from April 1999 to March 2004, Stockton-on-Tees local authority created 3,401 new childcare places helping some 5,838 children. This shows an increase in the stock of childcare places, taking into account turnover, of 1,776, helping some 3,081 children.

Mr. Nicholas Brown

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and what the arrangements are for allocating money from the Children's Fund in Newcastle-upon-Tyne; what criteria are applied; and what the audit arrangements are. [166537]

Margaret Hodge

Children's Fund resource is allocated according to a formula that takes into account the number of children and young people in an area, and also the levels of deprivation in that area.

Children's Fund partnerships in 2003–04 had an over-allocation built in to their budgets. This was to ensure that underspends built up in the programme overall would be used up. However, this has now resulted in a projected overspend in the programme. To keep the programme overall within its financial limits this year the Department for Education and Skills held a mid year review of expenditure. This identified underspends in the programme and as a result revised budgets were agreed to some partnerships for the remainder of 2003–04. Decisions at the mid year review were revisited where they compromised partnerships' ability to meet contractual obligations, or were likely to cause unplanned staff redundancy or premature closure of services.

My Department has identified new resources from outside the Children's Fund which means that the total budget for partnerships this year will be £160 million. This is only slightly below the originally notified total allocation of £164.6 million. As such, the allocation for the Newcastle-upon-Tyne partnership has been reduced from £1.25 million to £1.215 million. I have also agreed that they can carry forward any underspend from previous years, where this can be shown to maintain services that continue to deliver value for money and bring benefit to local communities.

All partnerships must have an accountable body, which is ultimately responsible for the spending of the Children's Fund grant. The accountable body must undertake audit requirements as set out in the terms and conditions of grant, with which all of the Children's Fund partnerships must comply.