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18 Mar 2003 : Column 670W—continued


Vernon Coaker: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what recent assessment he has made of the quality of services available to the parent carers of children with physical and learning difficulties; and if he will make a statement; [102282]

Jacqui Smith: Disabled children receive a range of care and support from the national health service and social services departments. This includes: medical and nursing support; family support, including short-term breaks and domiciliary care; advice and guidance; residential provision; self-care and independent skills training; drop-in clubs and groups; activities at family centres and transition support services.

As part of the Government's £885 million "Quality Protects" programme, we set national objectives for children's social services. Through inspections monitoring and annual reviews, the Department's social services inspectorate monitors progress by individual authorities towards the achievement of these objectives. They include specific sub-objectives for disabled children, which are a priority area in the "Quality Protects" programme.

Last year's "Quality Protects" management action plans (MAPS) show that local authorities are beginning to improve the services they provide to disabled children, including the provision of more family support services, such as home-based respite care and sitting services, and better planning and delivery of services jointly with health and education. There has also been an increase in the number of families being supported. In late 2001, the children in need survey found that social services were supporting 29,700 disabled children: a 2 per cent. increase on the position in 2000. The introduction of direct payments for parents with disabled children is enabling greater choice and greater control over the way services are delivered. Next year, in 2003–04, the "Quality Protects" money earmarked for disabled children will double: from £15 million to £30 million.

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We are also increasing the provision of short-term breaks through the carers' grant, which was first introduced in 1999 in order to provide breaks for carers, including parents of disabled children. Last year children's social services provided 52,400 carers with short-term breaks funded by this grant: an increase of 21,400 from the previous year. The majority of those receiving a short-term break were parents of disabled children. The grant is increasing on a yearly basis. This year the grant is £85 million. Next year it will rise to £100 million, and by 2005–06 it will have risen to £185 million.

The Government are providing funding to Contact a Family, of £500,00 per annum, to run a national information centre for parents of disabled children. The free 0808 national telephone help and advice line has been widely used. In the year ending 31 March 2002, it had received nearly 9,000 calls. By the end of 2004, it is estimated that this figure will have risen to 21,000 a year.

Ministers and officials hold regular discussions with groups representing parents of disabled children about the development and implementation of policy including the implementation of the "Quality Protects" programme and the development of the children's national service framework (NSF). We have set up an external working group to develop NSF standards for disabled children. This includes two parents of disabled children and representatives from the Council for Disabled Children, Contact a Family, SCOPE, MENCAP and the Association of Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus.

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Untoward Incidents (Health Trusts)

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how many NHS hospital trusts have an action plan to reduce the number of elderly people who fall in hospital; and whether these action plans include introducing bed guards or fall monitors for high-risk patients; [100514]

Jacqui Smith: The Department does not collect information centrally on the number of older people affected by falls during a hospital stay. In-patient central records monitor why a patient has entered a hospital but do not necessarily record subsequent changes to the reason they are being cared for in hospital.

The national service framework for older people, published in 2001, requires all hospitals to recognise, assess and minimise the risks that hospital admission can pose for older people, as part of good management.

The Government have established the national patient safety agency to improve the safety of national Health service patient care by introducing a national reporting and learning system for adverse events and by promoting an open and fair culture.

NHS Estates is also developing guidance for hospital facilities for older people and this will include reference to patient safety, including falls.

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Unemployment Benefit

Hugh Bayley: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many unemployed people in the City of York parliamentary constituency claimed unemployment benefit in each year since 1979. [102636]

Ruth Kelly: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National Statistician. I have asked him to reply.

Letter from Office for National Statistics to Hugh Bayley dated 18 March 2003:

Annual average levels of claimant count in the City of York Parliamentary Constituency


(4) Average of the seven months June to December 1983.

Advertising Costs

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much the Inland Revenue spent on advertising in 2001–02. [102869]

Dawn Primarolo: For figures for 2001–02 I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answer given to the hon. Member for Buckingham (Mr. Bercow) 7 May 2002, Official Report, column 36W.

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Matthew Taylor: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much the Valuation Office Agency spent on advertising in 2002–03. [102868]

Dawn Primarolo: I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answer which the Financial Secretary gave to the hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Laws) on 5 March 2003, Official Report, column 1061W-1063W.

Budget Statement

Pete Wishart: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what steps will be taken to ensure that official support for the Budget statement will be in accordance with the Guidance on Conduct for Civil Servants in UK Departments. [103666]

Dawn Primarolo: Holding the Budget announcement on 9 April is fully consistent with the Guidance on Conduct for Civil Servants in UK Departments. The guidance emphasises that care should be taken during the election period to ensure that Government resources are not used, or seen to be used, for party political purposes. This will be the case in the context of the Budget.

Compliance Costs

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the compliance costs of a Budget date beyond the end of the 2002–03 financial year; and if he will make a statement. [102880]

Dawn Primarolo: Any costs will be negligible.


Mr. Siôn Simon: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he will reply to the letter from the hon. Member for Birmingham, Erdington of 4 February 2003, concerning regulations under section 42 of the Tax Credits Act 2002. [103175]

Dawn Primarolo: I have done so.

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