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Clive Efford: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what level of demand he estimates there will be for social care beds in each London borough area over the next three years; what resources will need to be made available to meet that demand; and if he will make a statement. 
Jacqui Smith: I have been asked to reply.
I refer my hon. Friend to the reply which I gave to the hon. Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Lidington) on 1 February 2002, Official Report, columns 62627W. Funding for personal social services will increase by an average of 6 per cent. a year in real terms for each of the next three years.
Clive Efford: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister (1) what action he is taking to improve recruitment rates of foster carers for London boroughs; what has been the change in use of agency foster placements (a) for each borough and (b) for London as a whole in the last
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five years; what steps he is taking to limit the cost of agency foster care placements in London; and what representations he has received on this subject; 
Jacqui Smith: I have been asked to reply.
A table has been placed in the Library which provides total numbers of looked-after children, and the proportion in foster care and in residential care in each London borough for years ending 31 March 1997 to 31 March 2001.
The breakdown of placements between family and friends care, in-house placements, and agency placements is collected on the SSDA 903 statistical return, a one-third sample of anonymised care histories of looked-after children. In 200001 a breakdown of in-house and agency placements has been collected for the first time. However the resulting figures for these particular placement categories are too small to form a reliable basis upon which to estimate activity for individual London boroughs. Therefore such a breakdown has not been included in the table.
A national campaign for recruiting foster carers was carried out in 2000 by the Department.
Local authorities commission placements according to their needs and strategies, and will negotiate with agencies accordingly. It is the responsibility of local authorities to consider and agree the level of payments that it makes to fulfil the needs of those children who require these services.
The role of independent foster agencies will be reviewed in the context of the current "Choice Protects" review, announced on 20 March, and in particular in relation to the Government's plans to improve the number and quality of placement options for looked-after children.
Dr. Cable: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many people claimed housing benefit as a percentage of the (a) population of London and (b) population of the UK in (i) each London constituency and (ii) each London borough in each year since 1995; and if he will make a statement. 
Malcolm Wicks: I have been asked to reply.
The available information is in the tables.
|City of London||0.02||0.02||0.02||0.02||0.02||0.02||0.02||0.02|
|Kensington and Chelsea||0.33||0.33||0.31||0.28||0.27||0.26||0.24||0.24|
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|Barking and Dagenham||0.04||0.04||0.04||0.04||0.04||0.04||0.03||0.03|
|City of London|||||||||||||||||
|Hammersmith and Fulham||0.05||0.05||0.05||0.05||0.04||0.04||0.04||0.04|
|Kensington and Chelsea||0.04||0.04||0.04||0.04||0.03||0.03||0.03||0.03|
1. Housing benefit data for parliamentary constituencies are not available; figures are only available by local authority area.
2. The data refer to households claiming housing benefit which may be a single person, a couple or a family. More than one benefit household can live in one property, for example two or more adults in a flat or house share arrangement.
3. The percentages are rounded to two decimal places.
4. '' indicates that the percentage is statistically negligible.
5. Figures exclude any housing benefit extended payment cases
6. Figures for any non-responding authorities have been estimated.
7. Social security matters in Northern Ireland are the responsibility of the Northern Ireland Assembly.
Housing Benefit Management Information System quarterly 100 per cent. counts taken in February of each year;
Office for National Statistics mid-year population estimates, 1995 to 2000.
24 Jul 2002 : Column 1225W
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