Previous Section Index Home Page

12 Jan 2004 : Column 570W—continued

Thames Gateway

Sir Sydney Chapman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the average residential density was of housing developments given planning permission since March 2000 in the boroughs that make up the London part of the Thames Gateway, as defined by RPG9a: The Thames Gateway Planning Framework. [146844]

Keith Hill: Information relating to the average residential density of housing development in the boroughs that make up the London part of the Thames Gateway is not held centrally, and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Sir Sydney Chapman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what (a) criteria and (b) milestones have been established for monitoring the implementation of the Government's plans for the Thames Gateway; and who is responsible for carrying out the necessary monitoring. [146845]

12 Jan 2004 : Column 571W

Keith Hill: The Government's plans for the Thames Gateway are set out in "Creating Sustainable Communities: Making It Happen in the Thames Gateway and Growth Areas", published on 30 July 2003. That document makes it clear that the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister will be establishing a Gateway delivery office to work alongside local, regional and national partners to turn strategic plans into operational programmes. The Gateway Office will be responsible for monitoring implementation of the Government's plans. It is anticipated that the Office will be up and running shortly.

Sir Sydney Chapman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister in respect of the new communities that are envisaged in the Thames Gateway, what plans the Government have for the adoption of standards for access to community infrastructure, with particular reference to (a) schools, (b) health care facilities, (c) leisure facilities and (d) open spaces. [146846]

Keith Hill: The information is as follows:

(a)(b)(c) For the Thames Gateway and elsewhere, planning policy (in particular Planning Policy Guidance 13) makes it clear that jobs, shopping, leisure facilities and services should be accessible by public transport, walking and cycling.

In addition, the Social Exclusion Unit's "Making the Connections" report, published in February 2003, sets out a strategy to help people on low incomes access work, food shops and key public services, notably education and health care. This includes the approach of accessibility planning in those areas that produce a Local Transport Plan, where local transport planners and others work together to examine accessibility needs and how to overcome barriers. Accessibility planning is currently being piloted and various accessibility indicators are under consideration.

(d) Well-designed and managed open spaces are an essential ingredient of thriving, inclusive and sustainable communities in the Thames Gateway and elsewhere. Our planning policies (set out in Planning Policy Guidance 17) require a robust assessment of the existing and future needs of communities for open space, guiding their provision and management, and allow local authorities to set local standards to meet the identified needs of their community.

Yorkshire and Humber Housing Board

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister (1) how much has been allocated to the

12 Jan 2004 : Column 572W

Yorkshire and Humber Regional Housing Board for 2003–04; and how much of this is allocated by them to (a) repairs and renovation of council housing and (b) privatisation of council housing; [146422]

Keith Hill: 2003/04 was the last year for which housing capital allocations were made to local authorities on the old basis of recommendations made to Ministers by Government Offices (the Yorkshire and the Humber Regional Housing Board was not therefore involved). As was standard, 80 per cent. of the resources available were allocated using a needs-based formula and 20 per cent. according to performance. Local authorities in Yorkshire and the Humber had an allocation of £65.9 million. This was for authorities to use according to their own priorities, without having to identify specific purposes such as repair and renovation of council housing or supporting stock transfers.

Under the new arrangements (introduced last year in the Communities Plan) the Yorkshire and Humber Regional Housing Board recommended capital allocations to local authorities totalling £76 million for 2004–05 and £81 million for 2005–06. The recommendations, which we accepted, included a fixed sum based on a needs-based formula (95 per cent. in 2004–05 and 70 per cent. in 2005–06 of what they would have received under the old arrangements).

The balance is being used to commission proposals to deliver regional housing strategy priorities, and, in 2005–06, £10 million for 'transformational proposals' of regional significance, which deliver one or more of the regional housing strategy priorities. The Board has said that it will consider applications for gap funding from this £10 million in specific circumstances. Gap funding proposals have been submitted by north-east Lincolnshire and one other local authority. I understand that the Regional Housing Board will be considering at its meeting on 22 January all proposals submitted.

Separate from the above, local authorities in Yorkshire and the Humber also benefited from support for capital investment through the major repairs allowance (current figures are £172 million in each of 2003–04 and 2004–05). This allowance, calculated formulaically, covers the bulk of support for the repair and renovation of council housing.


12 Jan 2004 : Column 573W


Asylum Seekers

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many children seeking asylum who have arrived in the UK are missing from care. [144996]

Margaret Hodge: At 31 March 2003, the most recent date for which information is available, there were 15 unaccompanied asylum-seeking children missing from their agreed placements within local authority care in England. Information is not collected by this Department on the number of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children who are in care in other parts of the UK.

Child Care

Mr. Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) how many extra child care places have been created in each year since 1997; [145266]

Margaret Hodge: The available information is shown in the table.

New child care places(10)

New child care places, England(11)New child care places net of closures, England(11)New child care places net of closures,20 per cent. most disadvantaged wards in England, estimated(12)

(10) All figures relate to financial years and are rounded to the nearest hundred places. Child care places are defined to include: places for pre-school children which last three-and-a-half hours or longer per day, in day nurseries or with childminders; places for children receiving nursery education which, combined with the nursery education, total at least three-and-a-half hours per day; and places for statutory school age children aged up to 14 (16 for those with special educational needs or disabilities) in breakfast or after school clubs or with childminders for any length of time, or in holiday play schemes of three and a half hours or longer per day.

(11) Figures from 1999–2000 onwards are drawn from local authorities' quarterly child care returns. Figures for 1997–98 and 1998–99 relate only to child care places directly funded by Government.

(12) This information was not collected prior to 2001–02. Figures are drawn from local authorities' Early Years Development and Childcare Plans, and reflect their estimated position at 31 March 2002 and 31 March 2003.

12 Jan 2004 : Column 574W

Mr. Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how much funding has been made available for child care for each year since 1997. [145267]

Margaret Hodge: As published in the Department for Education and Skills Departmental Report 2003, expenditure was:

£ million

Sure StartEarly Years and ChildcareTotal


The 2002–03 expenditure quoted reflects actual expenditure as opposed to the estimates contained in the Departmental Report.

The Early Years and Childcare figures include early education funding (Under Fives Block) to local authorities.

Mr. Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many registered child minders there were in England and Wales in each year since 1997. [145268]

Margaret Hodge: Figures are only available for England. Child care is a devolved issue.

Data on the number of registered child minders was recorded by the Day Care Facilities Study from 1997 to 2001. In September 2001 Ofsted took over the registration of places and undertook a 'cleansing' exercise to delete all registered childminders who were no longer operating. This exercise was undertaken throughout 2001–02, therefore there are no figures available for registered child minders for 2002. Ofsted published their March 2003 data in June.

Registered child minders 1997–2003 are as follows:


Although there was a constant decline in childminders year on year to 2003, the number of child minders is now showing a steady increase month on month. Ofsted data at September 2003 shows an increase in the number of operational child minders of 2,000 since March 2003.

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many childcare places there are in England. [145662]

12 Jan 2004 : Column 575W

Margaret Hodge: This is a matter for Ofsted. The HM Chief Inspector, David Bell, will write to the hon. Member and a copy of his letter will be placed in the Library.

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what the Government are doing to extend the availability of affordable, good quality child care. [146259]

Margaret Hodge: The Government have funded a major expansion in child care through their National Childcare Strategy. Since 1997, 808,000 new places have been created, benefiting well over 1.4 million children. Following the more than doubling in child care expenditure agreed as part of the 2002 Spending Review, the number of children benefiting from new places will rise to over 2 million by 2006.

Specific initiatives such as Sure Start local programmes, Neighbourhood Nurseries and our new Children's Centres, are extending high quality child care in disadvantaged communities, increasingly provided alongside early education and health and family support.

Our National Standards set a benchmark of quality below which no registered child care provider should fall and Ofsted inspects against these Standards.

Substantial help with child care costs is provided to lower and middle income families through the child care element of the working tax credit. The Chancellor announced new plans in his Pre Budget Report in December to encourage employer supported child care from April 2005 through tax exemptions of up to £50 per week for employees.

Next Section Index Home Page