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29 Mar 2004 : Column 1177Wcontinued
Alan Keen: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many unaccompanied asylum-seeking children have been under the care of the London Borough of Hounslow since 1998; and how many in that time left care having reached 18 years of age. 
Margaret Hodge [holding answer 22 March 2004]: Information on unaccompanied asylum seeking children being 'looked after' (within the meaning of the Children Act 1989) by local authorities was collected for the first time in 2002. On 31 March 2002, there were 15 children (rounded to the nearest five) under the age of 18 years looked after by London Borough of Hounslow. 2003 data will be available at the end of March 2004.
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and career choices is shared between Connexions and schools. Schools provide the underpinning skills young people need to investigate options and manage transitions through learning into work, through a planned programme of careers education in years nine-11 (to be extended to years seven and eight from September 2004). This is complemented by support from Connexions at key decision-making and transition points. All young people aged 1319 have access to Connexions, with the level of support provided in each individual case being differentiated according to need.
In order to assure ourselves that the current arrangements are robustin particular in light of changes to the 1419 phase of education announced in January last yearwe have initiated a review of careers education and guidance which will report in Summer 2004.
Mr. Milburn: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if he will list by local authority area how many children are (a) aged under five years old and (b) aged under eight years, and the number of registered child care places. 
Margaret Hodge: The information requested is shown in the table. Statistics on the number of childcare places registered in England were published on 19 February 2004 in a report by OfSTED "Registered Childcare Providers and Places in England, 31 December 2003". The report is available on the OfSTED website, www.ofsted.gov.uk/publications.
|LEA name||Children aged under five years old||Children aged under eight years old||Number of registered childcare places|
|Redcar and Cleveland||7,300||12,400||2,800|
|Blackburn with Darwen||10,400||17,000||4,100|
|Yorkshire and Humberside||285,300||471,800||120,800|
|East Riding of Yorkshire||15,800||26,700||8,400|
|Kingston Upon Hull, City of||14,200||23,900||4,700|
|North East Lincolnshire||9,200||15,500||2,800|
|Telford and Wrekin||10,200||16,800||5,600|
|East of England||315,300||518,000||156,800|
|City of London||300||400||400|
|Hammersmith and Fulham||10,300||15,500||3,600|
|Kensington and Chelsea||10,000||15,000||4,200|
|Barking and Dagenham||12,300||19,900||3,100|
|Windsor and Maidenhead||8,100||12,900||5,200|
|Brighton and Hove||12,900||20,500||7,100|
|Isle of Wight||6,200||10,700||3,400|
|Bath and North East Somerset||8,800||14,300||4,500|
|Bristol, City of||22,700||35,700||10,100|
|Isles of Scilly||100||200||100|
(5) Mid year estimates 2002.
(6) Registered places are not the number of places occupied, nor the number of children who may benefit from receiving places through providers offering sessions at different times of the day. The number of registered places is likely to be higher than the actual number of registered places as not all providers will immediately inform Ofsted that they have ceased their provision. For about 7 per cent. of providers, the database does not hold the number of registered places. In these cases, the number of places has been estimated and included in the figures shown.
(7) Figures are rounded to the nearest hundred. Due to rounding, data may differ from that published by Ofsted.
(8) Includes childminders, full day care and sessional day care, out of school care and crèches.
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Margaret Hodge [holding answer 18 March 2004]: Sitter services are becoming increasingly popular, particularly in Scotland, and we are actively investigating the role they could play in England. We believe they can be very useful as a means of enabling parents, especially lone parents, to work atypical hours, and for providing parents of disabled children with child care in their home or with respite care. In particular, using a sitter service to provide home-based child care removes the need for the parent to act as employer. The availability of such a service could also make it much easier for 24 hour service sector employers to recruit and retain employees.
Currently, sitter services do not have to be registered under the Children Act. However, as announced in the Budget, we shall be consulting in the early summer on extending the scope of accredited child care through a new light touch voluntary scheme, to be implemented by April 2005. Accreditation would enable eligible parents to gain working tax credit support for their child care costs, such support currently not being available for users of sitter services. Child care carried out in the parents' home will be considered as part of this consultation.
Margaret Hodge: The National Childcare Strategy was established in 1998 to ensure that accessible, affordable and quality child care for children up to the age of 14, and 16 for those with special needs, is available in every area.
We have funded a substantial expansion in child care provision of the public, private and voluntary sectors, with a wide variety of types of child carenurseries, childminders, before and after school provision increasingly delivered alongside early education and other family servicesto ensure diversity and choice for parents. To ensure quality National Standards for Under Eights day care and child minding were introduced from September 2001. They set a national benchmark below which no provider may fall. Responsibility for registration and inspection transferred from local authorities to the Early Years Directorate of Ofsted at that time.
By December 2003, more than 920,000 new child care places had been created since 1997, benefiting over 1.6 million children. This means that we have met our target of creating new places for 1.6 million children by March 2004, and are on track to create places for over 2 million by 2006.
At January 2004, 300,000 lower and middle income families were benefiting from the child care element of the new working tax credit, 120,000 more than benefited under the previous arrangements through working families tax creditand over six times as many as the 47,000 who benefited from the child care disregard under the previous administration's family credit.
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