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Section 64 Grants

Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make it his policy to require health authorities

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which make Section 64 grants to charities to include a term in their contracts requiring them to be notified of changes in the charities' objects. [104821]

Mr. Hutton [holding answer 17 January 2000]: Health authorities have wide discretion over the terms and conditions they apply in the use by recipient voluntary organisations of Section 64 grants. This is appropriate given the wide variety of circumstances that may arise. In all their financial transactions, health authorities are required to exercise the standards of financial management and control specified in their standing orders and standing financial instructions--which follow the normal conventions for public bodies--and are audited on their performance. Making a specific requirement to be notified of changes in the objects of the organisation would not necessarily provide an additional safeguard, since changes may not necessarily have any bearing on the purpose for which the grant was made.

Foster Care

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what plans he has to regulate the independent foster care home sector in respect of (a) quality of care provided and (b) charges to local authorities; [105911]

Mr. Hutton: We announced in the White Paper "Modernising Social Services" that independent fostering agencies will, in future, be regulated. The intention is that they will have to register with and be inspected by the new National Care Standards Commission. The changes are being introduced in the Care Standards Bill. As an interim measure, we are planning to introduce a voluntary accreditation scheme for independent fostering agencies.

If a local authority decides to place a child with a foster carer operating in the independent sector, it is a matter for that authority to satisfy itself that they are getting quality and value for money from the agency. This requirement is set out at Standard 24 of the recently launched National Standards for Foster Care, which seeks to underpin the provision of high quality foster care for children and young people throughout the United Kingdom.

We are aware that local authorities tend to pay considerably higher weekly rates for foster care when that care is through independent foster agencies, rather than directly through local authority foster carers. At least to some extent, this results from the extra functions provided by agencies and the particular needs of the individual children. We have no control over the rates paid by local authorities to independent fostering agencies or to their own carers. This is, however, an issue that we are looking at in the context of the Quality Protects programme, and in particular in relation to our plans to improve the number and quality of placement options for looked after children.

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We are unable to provide a breakdown between local authority and independent sector foster care charges, as such figures are not collected centrally. We do, however, have information on the overall amount spent on local authority foster placements and for 1997-98 (the latest year we have available) the gross expenditure figure for England was £339 million. £15 million was also spent on children in other community placements.

There is also a Social Services Performance Indicator that showed the reported unit cost of foster care (gross weekly expenditure per child looked after in foster care) as £199 for 1998-99 and £211 for 1997-98.

Officials in the Department have had some discussion with representatives of the independent foster care sector about ensuring good quality standards, and these will be continued in the context of the voluntary accreditation scheme.

Road Traffic Charges

Mr. Syms: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what was the amount of charges collected in 1999 under the Road Traffic (NHS Charges) Act 1999. [106192]

Mr. Hutton: The Road Traffic (NHS Charges) Act 1999 came into force on 5 April 1999. In the initial three months no payments were made to trusts. In the second quarter £2,671,409 was collected and paid to National Health Service trusts in England, Scotland and Wales. In the third quarter this figure rose to £13,823,013, making the total paid to NHS trusts by the end of December 1999 £16,494,422.

Generic Drugs

Mr. Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will list the allocations he proposes to make to each health authority in 2000-01 in respect of additional funding for generic drugs. [106665]

Ms Stuart: £90 million has been made available to help meet the additional costs of generic drugs in 1999-2000. The table shows the additional allocations made to health authorities on 11 January 2000.

Health authority£000
Calderdale and Kirklees1,143
County Durham1,418
East Riding1,062
Gateshead and South Tyneside905
Newcastle and North Tyneside1,167
North Cumbria606
North Yorkshire1,432
Northern and Yorkshire Region total13,457
North Derbyshire737
North Nottinghamshire788
South Derbyshire974
South Humber630
Trent Region total9,703
East and North Hertfordshire831
North Essex1,504
South Essex1,094
West Hertfordshire808
Eastern Region total8,883
Barking and Havering636
Bexley and Greenwich652
Brent and Harrow699
Camden and Islington550
Ealing, Hammersmith and Hounslow1,012
East London and the City1,071
Enfield and Haringey741
Kensington, Chelsea and Westminster423
Kingston and Richmond479
Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham1,150
Merton, Sutton and Wandsworth804
Redbridge and Waltham Forest674
London Region total10,684
East Kent1,057
East Surrey585
East Sussex, Brighton and Hove1,358
Isle of Wight259
North and Mid Hampshire757
Portsmouth and South East Hampshire966
Southampton and South West Hampshire987
West Kent1,533
West Surrey880
West Sussex1,346
South East Region total13,795
Cornwall and Isles of Scilly986
North and East Devon938
South and West Devon1,205
South West Region total8,969
North Staffordshire961
South Staffordshire999
West Midlands Region total9,714
Bury and Rochdale878
East Lancashire1,214
Morecambe Bay654
North Cheshire665
North West Lancashire1,122
Salford and Trafford1,043
South Cheshire1,259
South Lancashire617
St. Helens and Knowsley918
West Pennine1,000
Wigan and Bolton1,303
North West Region total14,795
England Total90,000

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Student Finance

5. Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what representations his Department made to the Scottish independent inquiry into student finance. [104931]

Dr. Reid: My hon. Friend the Minister of State met the Chairman and Secretary of the committee in his capacity as a former education Minister at the Scottish Office.

8. Mr. Nicholas Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what recent discussions he has had with the First Minister regarding the Scottish independent inquiry into student finance. [104934]

10. Mr. Robathan: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what discussions he has had with the First Minister of the Scottish Executive about reserved matters referred to in the Cubie report on education. [104936]

Dr. Reid: I meet the First Minister regularly and we discuss a wide range of issues.

9. Mr. Flight: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Social Security regarding the implications of the report from the independent inquiry into student finance. [104935]

Dr. Reid: I have had no such discussions.

13. Mr. Peter Atkinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement on the submissions made by the UK Government to the Scottish independent inquiry into student finance. [104939]

Mr. Wilson: The Department for Education and Employment made a submission to the Cubie Committee on 18 October. I also met the Chairman and Secretary of the Committee in my capacity as a former education Minister at the Scottish Office.

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