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15 Mar 2005 : Column 179W—continued

Asian Tsunami

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development (1) how much public funds the Government have pledged to tsunami relief and reconstruction; and if he will make a statement; [221226]

(2) what the Government's policy is on the proportion of Government support to the level of public donations to the tsunami appeal. [221227]

Mr. Gareth Thomas: The public has responded with remarkable generosity to this disaster and I commend the individuals, groups, organisations and communities who have contributed to this overwhelming response. We estimate that the Government will be contributing approximately £50 million through tax relief on public donations made through the Gift Aid Scheme.

The Department for International Development (DFID) has committed £75 million for the immediate relief and recovery needs following the tsunami (over £61 million of which has already been programmed).

We have also agreed debt relief for Sri Lanka through the Multilateral Debt relief initiative, which will amount to approximately £45 million. Together with other G7 donors we have also agreed to defer debt payments during 2005 for tsunami affected countries which request it.

We expect to contribute more money over time for longer-term reconstruction. However, our response will be guided by the findings of needs assessments of the affected countries currently being finalised, and the level of resources which are already available to the affected countries, rather than by linking the Government's contribution to that of the British public. We are continuing to work hard with partner governments and the international community to ensure that support reaches those most affected by the disaster.
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Childcare Vouchers

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what requirement there is on public sector organisations to offer childcare vouchers to their staff; and if she will make a statement. [218190]

Dawn Primarolo: I have been asked to reply.

There is no obligation on any employer to offer childcare vouchers. That includes employers in the public sector. However, the Government actively encourages all employers to support employees with their childcare needs, particularly through the introduction from April 2005 of tax and National Insurance Contributions (NICs) exemptions for up to £50 of childcare costs per week.

Children in Care

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many children were taken into care as a result of a parent being sent to prison in the last year for which figures are available. [221198]

Margaret Hodge [holding answer 10 March 2005]: The information is not collected centrally.

Cross-border Tracking

Mr. Martyn Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what cross-border tracking of children on the at risk register takes place between the relevant authorities in England and Wales. [220325]

Margaret Hodge [holding answer 4 March 2005]: A central child protection register is maintained for each area covered by a social services department in England and Wales. The register lists all the children in the area (including those who have been placed there by another local authority or agency) who are considered to be at continuing risk of significant harm.

When a child on the register moves to another local authority area the authority where the child has been living must notify the receiving local authority of the child's move. The receiving local authority should convene a child protection conference within 15 working days of being notified of the move.

The Information Sharing Indexes currently under development aim to help children moving area by enabling better communication between professionals in different areas so that services in their new area can identify which services the children were receiving in their old area. We are working with the Welsh Assembly to establish data standards to support information transfer between English and Welsh Authorities.

Departmental Policies

Sarah Teather: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what her policy is on access by hon. Members to the chief executives of public bodies for which her Department is responsible to discuss the effects in individual constituencies of policy decisions made on a national basis; and if she will make a statement. [222104]

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Mr. Ivan Lewis: Hon. Members can approach the chief executives of public bodies as they wish, about any issues that are of concern to them and that are relevant to the public body.

Disability Discrimination Bill

Mr. Berry: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what plans the Government have to monitor the compliance of schools with the duty to promote equal opportunities under the Disability Discrimination Bill. [217657]

Margaret Hodge: Our plans for monitoring how schools promote equality of opportunity for disabled people will be implemented in the following ways: our current arrangements for monitoring the quality of provision generally will include inspecting against the duty to promote equality of opportunity for disabled people. Second we will ensure inspections carried out by Office for Standards in Education will inspect this aspect. Third the rights of disabled people will be reflected in the arrangements we are developing as part of the New Relationship with Schools, including school self-evaluation, and finally our powers to support and challenge schools will enable us to monitor complains with the new duty.

Education Funding (Tamworth)

Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what the total expenditure on the Sure Start scheme has been in Tamworth in each year since the scheme has been in operation. [221938]

Margaret Hodge: Sure Start Tamworth is a round 4 Sure Start local programme which received approval in November 2001. It has a capital allocation of £1 million. Its revenue allocations were: £115,000 in 2001–02, £404,000 in 2002–03, £599,000 in 2003–04 and £613,975 in 2004–05. We have just written to the programme announcing its future revenue allocations of £629,324 in 2005–06 and the same amount in 2006–07.

The programme has 619 children aged 4 and under in its catchment area, which covers the wards of Glascote and Belgrave. This area represents the highest level of multiple deprivation within Tamworth. Glascote ward falls wholly within the 20 per cent. band of deprived wards in England and ranks as the fifth most deprived ward in Staffordshire according to the 2000 index of local deprivation.

The programme has used its capital for two builds, the Exley Centre based in Belgrave which has focused on the refurbishment of a Community Centre providing a much needed central point for families in that area. This centre has recently received Ofsted approval to deliver 16 full day-care places. The Glascote Centre based in Glascote Heath is a new build currently registered for 24 full day-care places and providing a base for family support, training, health provision and Jobcentre plus links.

The programme has made strong links with health and employs a midwife and a public health promotion co-ordinator within the programme. This had led to some unique service developments—the programme
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run a very successful food co-operative and provide families with 'healthy meal bags' which can be purchased for minimal costs but provide a family with all of the ingredients for a healthy, nutritious meal. The success of this project has led to the development of the 'Glascote Soup Kitchen' involving families in the preparation and consumption of nutritious meals, also providing an opportunity for parents to drop in and access not only healthy eating advice, but discuss wider issues with Family Support Workers and Health Advisors.

The Programme has also developed a very successful training and volunteer programme—with parents currently engaged at all levels—from basic first aid through to a familiarisation course with Staffordshire University. There are also clear links with Jobcentre plus, with on-going training for Sure Start staff on in-work benefit calculations and back to work support and guided visits (supported by the Child Care Partnership Manager) to the local Jobcentre plus office for parents wishing to return to work.

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