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26 Jan 2004 : Column 140Wcontinued
Alan Johnson: This is a matter for the Learning and Skills Council. Mark Haysom, the Council's Chief Executive, will write to the hon. Member with this information and a copy of his reply will be placed in the Library.
Alan Johnson: As a member of the national Skills Alliance the Learning and Skills Council has a major part to play in securing the effective implementation of our Skills Strategy. The Strategy sets a new framework for tackling our long-standing skills gaps.
The amount spent by each local LSC on employer initiatives is an operational matter and I have asked Mark Haysom, the Council's Chief Executive, to write to my hon. Friend with this information and a copy of his reply will be placed in the Library.
Mr. Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what discussions his Department has held with the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister on the appropriateness of transferring responsibility for skills from Learning and Skills Councils to elected regional assemblies. 
Alan Johnson: The Government's national Skills Strategy, published in July 2003, emphasises the need for all relevant agencies to work together collaboratively in support of the skills agenda. We are committed to building strong and effective Regional Skills Partnerships, which will enable Regional Development Agencies, local Learning and Skills Councils, and other key stakeholders to work together to deliver skills, training, business support and employment services. The partnerships will help take forward the priorities identified in the regional economic strategies.
Elected Regional Assemblies also have an important role in training and skills, and in our White Paper 'Your Region, Your Choice' we set out proposals for each Assembly to appoint two members to the Board of each local LSC in its region, and for the national LSC to consult Assemblies on its guidance to local LSCs.
As well as these regional and sub-regional roles, there is a vital national dimension to the planning and funding of learning and skills, discharged by the Learning and Skills Council. The Skills Alliance Delivery Partners Group, which is chaired by the LSC Chief Executive Mark Haysom and includes an RDA representative, is
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Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) if he will give parents of three-year-old children flexibility to use the 10 hours per week nursery voucher; and if he will make a statement; 
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place which may be taken up at a range of providers in the maintained, private, voluntary and independent sectors. From April 2004, six months ahead of the original target, the entitlement will be extended to all three year olds. A free place consists of a minimum of five two and a half hour sessions for thirty-three weeks of the year. It is underpinned by a statutory Code of Practice which encourages local authorities and providers to allow parents to take up their entitlement flexibly.
Around 88 per cent. of three year olds nationally are already receiving some free provision. The latest figures on Under 5's provision in England were published in Statistical Bulletin 'Provision for children under five years of age in EnglandJanuary 2003', a copy of which is available on the Department's website www. dfes.gov.uk/statistics .The number of free nursery education places taken up by three and four year olds in Gloucestershire Local Education Authority area and England was as follows:
|Location||Three year olds||Four year olds|
|Maintained nursery and primary schools(30)||Other maintained and private, voluntary and independent providers(31)||Maintained nursery and primary schools(30)||Other maintained and private, voluntary and independent providers(32)||Total 3 and 4 year olds(33)|
(29) Part-time equivalent number of children.
(30) Includes classes in maintained primary schools only. Gloucestershire does not have any maintained nursery schools.
(31) Part-time equivalent number of children aged three at 31 December in the previous calendar year from the Nursery Education Grant data collection exercise.
(32) Part-time equivalent number of children aged four at 31 December in the previous calendar year from the Early Years Supplementary data collection exercise.
(33) The totals do not add up to their constituent parts due to rounding.
(3) what the cost to public funds is estimated to be per email answered by the charity Parentline; 
(4) what the estimated number of service users is for the email service of the charity Parentline; 
(5) how many parents are expected to benefit from the recent investments made to the charity Parentline. 
Margaret Hodge: Parentline Plus is the operating name of FamilyLives, and was formed through the merger of Parentline UK, Parent Network and the National Stepfamily Association, in winter 1999. Parentline Plus is a registered charity.
|Family Support Grant (ex-Home Office, now Department for Education and Skills)|
|Project to develop materials for Afro-Caribbean communities||145,000|
|Share Parent Plus for activity based materials project||48,000|
|Project to support parents of teenagers||45,000||40,000|
|Telephone parenting support funded with Department of Health||20,000||20,922|
|Parenting Fund (Department for Education and Skills)||n/a||n/a||n/a||(34)762,690|
(34) Family Support Helpline extension, as detailed below
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The Home Office commissioned an evaluation of the Parentline Plus family support helpline. This was carried out between August 2002 and March 2003 by the Thomas Coram Research Unit at the Institute of Education, University of London, and will be published on the Home Office website shortly. The evaluation recognised that Parentline Plus provides a good quality helpline service to over 60,000 callers pa (three quarters of whom were first-time callers), and that further expansion in the helpline service is necessary to meet demand from callers. The charity makes significant use of trained volunteers.
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Staffing and systems at Parentline Plus will be flexible so that call-takers can deal with either telephone calls or emails. This means that the 75,000 telephone call/10,000 email balance may change, to best meet demand. It is therefore not possible to quote the cost per email dealt with. It is not possible to state the exact number of parents benefiting from recent investment, although the number of calls/emails are detailed above.
From the financial year 200001 onwards (the first full financial year applicable), central Government funding (including that from Children's Fund partnerships) to Parentline Plus for other work has been:
|Marriage and Relationship Support Grant (ex- Lord Chancellor's Department, now Department for Education and Skills)|
|Research and development||40,000|
|Youth Justice Board (NDPB reporting to Home Office)||n/a||n/a||n/a|
|Information dissemination, marketing of telephone support service, advice to YJB, equipment for call centres||64,914|
|Improving Behaviour in School Team (Department for Education and Skills)|
|Research project on bullying, with Family Service Units||80,000||40,000|
|Section 64 (ex-Department of Health, now Department for Education and Skills)||n/a||n/a|
|Telephone parenting courses project||20,200||20,700|
|Teenage Pregnancy Unit (ex-Department of Health, now Department for Education and Skills)||n/a|
|Time to Talk project to help parents talk to their children about sex and relationships (also for staff training).||76,944||97,872|
|Delivery of work connected to relationship work and helpline||88,500|
|Sure Start (Department for Education and Skills)||n/a||n/a||n/a||(35)15,000|
|Children's Fund (Department for Education and Skills) (including funding by Children's Fund partnerships)||n/a||n/a|
|Young Runaways helpline project||15,998||31,720|
|Piloting Services and Disseminating/Alone in London||21,456||74,909|
|Parenting courses for parents and carers in local communities across Liverpool.||5,785|
|Wirral Parents' Group and Phoneline project||6,976|
|Essex helpline services.||3,825|
(35) Preliminary work on Change Development Project
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