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26 Jan 2004 : Column 126W—continued

Children (Right of Contact)

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what discussions he has had with ministerial colleagues regarding an automatic assumption of equal right of contact by parents to children who are subject to marital break-up. [149757]

Margaret Hodge [holding answer 22 January 2004]: I have regular meetings with my ministerial colleagues on the issue of child contact. In particular, I work closely with Lord Filkin, the Minister at the Department for Constitutional Affairs with responsibility for Family

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Justice. I recently hosted a seminar on child contact, where academics presented findings from research to improve Ministerial awareness and understanding.

We continue to view children's interests as being paramount and we want to encourage contact between children and non-resident parents where it is in the best interest of the child and safe for all family members.

Working with my hon. Friends in the Department for Constitutional Affairs, we are considering carefully how the family justice system and related children's services can better meet the needs of all children and their parents following relationship breakdown. We want to ensure that better outcomes are achieved for children by, where possible, helping parents agree contact arrangements without the intervention of the courts. We expect to conclude these considerations in the early part of this year and then to publish the Government's response to the Children Act Sub-Committee's report 'Making Contact Work'.

Children's Fund

Ms Keeble: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) what variations there have been to the Children's Fund allocations for 2003 to 2006 notified in writing to local fund managers in January; [144925]

Margaret Hodge: Allocations to Children's Fund partnerships came to £119 million in 2002–03.

We conducted a mid year review of expenditure in November 2003 for this financial year to identify and take back genuine under spend from the first half of the year.

We wrote to all partnerships on 19 December advising them that the programme had become over-committed. This is because after initial under spends Partnerships are now spending much closer to profile against allocations which deliberately exceeded budget provision because of the history of under spends. The higher spending by partnerships together with the contributions made by the Children's Fund to other initiatives for the 5 to 13-year-old age group.

All this means there will be some reduction in allocations for 2004–05 and 2005–06 in order that the programme can meet all its commitments and stay within its overall limit.

I am not able to confirm allocations for 2004–05 or 2005–06 before the end of January. I can confirm though that the Government remain committed to the valuable work of the Children's Fund and that next year's budget will enable the programme to continue to deliver preventive services for children and young people.

Mr. Pickthall: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what funding will be made available to the Lancashire Children's Fund for (a) 2004–05 and (b) 2005–06. [147041]

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Margaret Hodge [holding answer 12 January 2004]: I am not able to confirm the allocations for Lancashire Children's Fund for 2004–05 and 2005–06 before the end of January. My officials have met with the appropriate representative bodies and wrote to all partnerships on 19 December 2003 explaining the difficulties that had occurred because of over programming coupled with mistaken estimates of partnerships ability to spend. This together with the contribution made to other initiatives means there will be some reduction in allocations for 04–05 and 05–06 in order that the programme can meet all its commitments and remain within its financial limits.

I can confirm though that the Government remain committed to the valuable work of the Children's Fund and that next year's budget will enable the programme to continue to deliver preventative services for children and young people.

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) how many projects are funded by the Children's Fund; and if he will list them and the responsible parent organisation, where applicable; [147729]

Margaret Hodge: There are 149 Children's Fund partnerships in England. These are listed in the annexe together with their lead and accountable bodies. The programme was launched in November 2001 and runs until March 2006. Each partnership is made up of representatives from the voluntary and statutory sector.

Children's Fund partnerships will continue to receive grants for 2004–05 and 2005–06. These grants will enable the partnerships to continue to deliver preventive services for five to 13-year-olds in their area. In the early years of the programme the Partnerships under spent their allocations. To avoid this recurring partnerships were allowed to increase their planned commitment with increased allocations and monies used for other initiatives for five to 13-year-olds. However, it has become clear that the partnerships have been more effective in their spending, to the point that they are

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spending more closely to profile. In order to avoid over-spends, not permitted under Government accounting, the Department is taking action now so as to reduce the levels of over-commitment without damaging the programmes already in place.

A mid year review of expenditure was undertaken in November 2003 to identify and take back genuine under spend from the first half of 2003–04 and to estimate and take back likely under spends from the second half of the year.

The Department did not have a formal process for appealing against mid year review decisions. However, following representations from 11 partnerships, the Department wrote to all 149 on 19 December. We advised them that decisions on taking back under spend would be revisited where they were too harsh and that we would restore funds where partnerships ability to meet contractual commitments were compromised by our decisions. These measures will ensure the mid year review does not mean partnerships have to implement

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redundancies or close services. I expect the process of identifying the total number that need funds restored to be completed by the end of January.

In a letter to all partnerships before Christmas the Department also explained that there was over-commitment in the programme and that there will therefore be some reduction in allocations for 2004–05 and 2005–06 in order that the programme can spend within its limits. Officials are currently assessing the extent of over-commitment in the programme. I expect this work to be completed by the end of January so that we can confirm partnerships' allocations for 2004–05. Until then we have advised partnerships not to commission any new services.

There has not been any closure of Children's Fund partnerships. It is a key characteristic of the fund that decisions on which services to commission are taken locally, not by central Government, against the aims and objectives of the Children's Fund programme. Partnerships themselves may decide which services to retain or close at any time, in response to evolving local circumstances.

PartnershipAccountable bodyRegionWave
BirminghamBirmingham City CouncilWest Midlands1
Blackburn with DarwenBlackburn with Darwen Borough CouncilNorth West1
BlackpoolBlackpool Borough CouncilNorth West1
BoltonBolton Metropolitan Borough CouncilNorth West1
BradfordBradford Metropolitan Borough CouncilYorkshire and Humber1
BristolBarnardos South WestSouth West1
CamdenCamden Local Education AuthorityLondon1
CornwallNCHSouth West1
DoncasterDoncaster Metropolitan Borough CouncilYorkshire and Humber1
GatesheadGateshead CouncilNorth East1
GreenwichGreenwich CouncilLondon1
HackneyThe Learning TrustLondon1
HaltonNCHNorth West1
HaringeyHaringey CouncilLondon1
HartlepoolHartlepool Borough CouncilNorth East1
IslingtonIslington CouncilLondon1
KentFamily Welfare AssociationSouth East1
Kingston upon HullHull City CouncilYorkshire and Humber1
KnowsleyKnowsley Metropolitan Borough CouncilNorth West1
LancashireNCHNorth West1
LeedsLeeds City Council—Social ServicesYorkshire and Humber1
LeicesterNCHEast Midlands1
LincolnshireLincolnshire County CouncilEast Midlands1
LiverpoolLiverpool City CouncilNorth West1
ManchesterManchester City CouncilNorth West1
MiddlesbroughNCHNorth East1
Newcastle upon TyneNewcastle City CouncilNorth East1
NewhamLondon Borough of NewhamLondon1
NorfolkNorfolk County CouncilEast1
NottinghamNottingham Social ServicesEast Midlands1
OldhamOldham Metropolitan Borough CouncilNorth West1
PortsmouthPortsmouth City CouncilSouth East1
RochdaleRochdale Metropolitan Borough CouncilNorth West1
SalfordSalford City CouncilNorth West1
SandwellSandwell Metropolitan Borough CouncilWest Midlands1
SheffieldSheffield City CouncilYorkshire and Humber1
SouthwarkLondon Borough of SouthwarkLondon1
Stockton-on-TeesStockton-on-Tees Borough CouncilNorth East1
SunderlandCity of SunderlandNorth East1
Tower HamletsLondon Borough of Tower HamletsLondon1
Barking and DagenhamLondon Borough of Barking and DagenhamLondon2
BarnsleyBarnsley Metropolitan Borough CouncilYorkshire and Humber2
BournemouthThe Children's SocietySouth West2
BrentLondon Borough of BrentLondon2
Brighton and HoveBrighton and Hove City CouncilSouth East2
CalderdaleCalderdale Metropolitan Borough CouncilYorkshire and Humber2
CheshireCheshire County CouncilNorth West2
CoventryCoventry City CouncilWest Midlands2
CumbriaCouncil for Voluntary Action South LakelandNorth West2
DarlingtonDarlington Borough CouncilNorth East2
DerbyDerby City CouncilEast Midlands2
DerbyshireDerbyshire County CouncilEast Midlands2
DevonPlaylines TrustSouth West2
DurhamDurham County CouncilNorth East2
East SussexEast Sussex County CouncilSouth East2
Hammersmith and FulhamLondon Borough of Hammersmith and FulhamLondon2
Isle of WrightIsle of Wright Local Education AuthoritySouth East2
KirkleesNCHYorkshire and Humber2
LambethLambeth Social ServicesLondon2
LewishamLondon Borough of LewishamLondon2
LutonLuton Borough CouncilEast2
MedwayMedway CouncilSouth East2
North East LincolnshireNorth East Lincolnshire CouncilYorkshire and Humber2
North LincolnshireNorth Lincolnshire CouncilYorkshire and Humber2
North TynesideNorth Tyneside CouncilNorth East2
North YorkshireNSPCCYorkshire and Humber2
NorthamptonshireNorthamptonshire County Council Education Service FinanceEast Midlands2
NorthumberlandNCHNorth East2
NottinghamshireNottinghamshire County CouncilEast Midlands2
PeterboroughPeterborough City CouncilEast2
PlymouthPlymouth City CouncilSouth West2
Redcar and ClevelandRedcar and Cleveland Borough CouncilNorth East2
RotherhamExternal Funding Team, Rotherham Metropolitan Borough CouncilYorkshire and Humber2
SeftonSefton CouncilNorth West2
SolihullSolihull Metropolitan Borough CouncilWest Midlands2
South TynesideSouth Tyneside Metropolitan Borough CouncilNorth East2
SouthamptonSouthampton City CouncilSouth East2
St. HelensNCHNorth West2
Stoke-on-TrentVoluntary Action Stoke-on-TrentWest Midlands2
SuffolkSuffolk County CouncilEast2
TamesideTameside Metropolitan Borough CouncilNorth West2
Telford and WrekinBorough of Telford and WrekinWest Midlands2
TorbayThe Children's SocietySouth West2
TraffordTrafford Borough CouncilNorth West2
WalsallWalsall Metropolitan Borough CouncilWest Midlands2
WalthamLondon Borough of Waltham ForestLondon2
WandsworthWandsworth Borough CouncilLondon2
WestminsterCity of WestminsterLondon2
WirralThe Children's SocietyNorth West2
WolverhamptonWolverhampton City CouncilWest Midlands2
BedfordshireBedfordshire County CouncilEast3
Bracknell ForestBracknell Forest Borough CouncilSouth East3
BuckinghamshireBuckingham County CouncilSouth East3
CambridgeshireCambridgeshire County CouncilEast3
East Riding of YorkshireEast Riding of Yorkshire CouncilYorkshire and Humberside3
EssexEssex County CouncilEast3
HampshireHampshire County CouncilSouth East3
HertfordshireHertfordshire County CouncilEast3
Milton KeynesMilton Keynes CouncilSouth East3
OxfordshireOxfordshire County CouncilSouth East3
ReadingTurner's Court Youth TrustSouth East3
SloughSlough Borough CouncilSouth East3
Southend-on-SeaSouthend-on-Sea Borough CouncilEast3
SurreySurrey County CouncilSouth East3
ThurrockThurrock CouncilEast3
WakefieldWakefield M.D.C Social Services and Health DepartmentYorkshire and Humberside3
West SussexWest Sussex County CouncilSouth East3
West BerkshireWest Berkshire Council, Children's ServicesSouth East3
Windsor and MaidenheadRoyal Borough of Windsor and MaidenheadSouth East3
WokinghamWokingham District CouncilSouth East3
YorkCity of York CouncilYorkshire and Humberside3
BarnetLondon Borough of BarnetLondon3
BexleyBexley CouncilLondon3
BromleyLondon Borough ofLondon3
City of LondonCorporation of London (Education Department)London3
CroydonCroydon Voluntary ActionLondon3
EalingLondon Borough ofLondon3
EnfieldOpportunity Links Ltd.London3
HarrowLondon borough of Harrow Education DepartmentLondon3
HaveringLondon Borough of HaveringLondon3
HillingdonLondon Borough of HillingdonLondon3
HounslowLondon Borough of HounslowLondon3
Kensington and ChelseaRoyal Borough of Kensington and ChelseaLondon3
Kingston-upon-ThamesRoyal Borough of Kingston-upon-ThamesLondon3
MertonMerton Voluntary Service CouncilLondon3
RedbridgeRedbridge Council for Voluntary ServicesLondon3
Richmond-upon-ThamesRichmond Council for Voluntary ServiceLondon3
SuttonLondon Borough of SuttonLondon3
BuryBury MBCNorth West3
StockportStockport Metropolitan Borough CouncilNorth West3
WarringtonWarrington Children's FundNorth West3
WiganSocial Services Wigan CouncilNorth West3
Bath and North East SomersetBarnardos South WestSouth West3
DorsetDorset County CouncilSouth West3
GloucestershireGloucestershire County CouncilSouth West3
North SomersetBarnardos South WestSouth West3
PooleNCH (South West)South West3
SomersetBarnardos South WestSouth West3
South GloucestershireSouth Gloucestershire CouncilSouth West3
SwindonSwindon Borough CouncilSouth West3
WiltshireBarnardos South WestSouth West3
County of HerefordshireHerefordshire CouncilWest Midlands3
DudleyNCH Children's Fund DudleyWest Midlands3
ShropshireShropshire County CouncilWest Midlands3
StaffordshireStaffordshire County CouncilWest Midlands3
WarwickshireNCH WarwickshireWest Midlands3
WorcestershireWorcestershire County Council Youth ServicesWest Midlands3
LeicestershireLeicestershire County CouncilEast Midlands3
RutlandRutland County CouncilEast Midlands3
Bradford City MDCBradford Metropolitan Borough CouncilYorks and Humberside1
Brighton and Hove City CouncilBrighton and Hove City CouncilSouth East2
Bristol (Barnados Fund)Barnardos South WestSouth West1
Cornwall (NCH) (Kerrier)NCHSouth West1
Durham County Council (Easington)Durham County CouncilNorth East2
Greenwich CouncilGreenwich CouncilLondon1
Haringey CouncilLondon Borough of HaringeyLondon1
London Borough of Brent SocialLondon Borough of BrentLondon2
London Borough of SouthwarkLondon Borough of SouthwarkLondon1
Luton Borough CouncilLuton Borough Council (Lifelong Learning)East2
Manchester City CouncilManchester City CouncilNorth West1
North Yorkshire (Scarborough)North Yorkshire County CouncilYorks and Humberside2
Northamptonshire County CouncilNorthamptonshire County Council Education Service FinanceEast Midlands2
Oldham MBCOldham Metropolitan Borough CouncilNorth West1
Portsmouth City CouncilPortsmouth City CouncilSouth East1
Rochdale MBCRochdale Metropolitan Borough CouncilNorth West1
SandwellSandwell Metropolitan Borough CouncilWest Midlands1
Sheffield City CouncilSheffield City CouncilYorks and Humberside1
Solihull MBCSolihull Metropolitan Borough CouncilWest Midlands2
Suffolk County Council (St. Edmundsbury)Suffolk County CouncilEast2
Sunderland CityCity of SunderlandNorth East1
Wirral Metropolitan BoroughThe Children's SocietyNorth West2

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Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what steps he is taking to ensure that the appeals process following mid-year changes to the Children's Fund is available to relevant organisations. [148911]

Margaret Hodge: The Department met representatives from the main voluntary sector organisations involved in the Fund together with the LGA and the ADSS on 18 December. Following that meeting officials wrote to all Children's Fund partnerships on 19 December 2003.

We advised partnerships that where our decisions at the mid-year review had compromised partnerships' ability to their meet contractual obligations, we would revisit them. Furthermore, we set aside money to assist with this and to ensure that there was no premature closure of projects. The Children's Fund regional teams have been discussing the detailed implications with partnerships and I expect the process to be complete by the end of January.

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Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills when he intends to announce resources for the Children's Fund for 2004–05. [148912]

Margaret Hodge: I expect to announce resources for the Children's Fund in 2004–05 at the end of January or early February.

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