|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many under-fives she estimates will be included in the Sure Start programme in (a) the North East, (b) the Tees Valley and (c) Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland. 
Local authorities are currently developing Sure Start children's centres as part of the Government's strategy to deliver better outcomes for children and families. The following table shows target
19 Jul 2005 : Column 1599W
reach figures for the number of under-fives expected to be supported through the Sure Start Children's Centres being created by local authorities covering (a) the
19 Jul 2005 : Column 1600W
North-East, (b) the Tees Valley and (c) Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland areas by March 2006 and by March 2008.
|Area||Target number of 0 to 4's to be reached through Sure Start Children's Centres by March 2006 (Phase 1)(37)||Target number of 0 to 4's to be reached through Sure Start Children's Centres by March 2008 (Phase 2)(38)|
|Tees Valley (Stockton on Tees LA)||3,666||8,095|
|Middlesbrough South (Middlesbrough LA)||4,268||7,237|
|East Cleveland (Redcar and Cleveland LA)||3,457||6,036|
Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) how many empty places there are in Sure Start nurseries in (a) England, (b) the North East, (c) the Tees Valley and (d) Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland; 
(2) how many under-fives entitled to free places on the Sure Start scheme are on waiting lists (a) in England, (b) in the North East, (c) in the Tees Valley and (d) in Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland. 
Beverley Hughes: All Sure Start Children's Centres provide child care. However, information about empty places or subsidised free places is not collected centrally. Sure Start Children's Centres also provide the free entitlement to child care and early learning for three and four-year-olds whose parents want it consists of a minimum of five two and a half hour sessions per week for 33 weeks of the year (usually divided into three 11 week terms) for six terms before statutory school age, which is the term following their fifth birthday.
The latest provisional figures for January 2005 show that all four-year-old children receive some form of free entitlement. The figure for three-year-olds is 98 per cent. This covers all maintained, private, voluntary and independent providers and represents an estimated 546,400 three-year-olds and 573,500 four-year-olds.
Related information on the number of free nursery education places taken up by three and four-year-olds in Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland parliamentary constituency area is only available for January 2004. These figures are shown in the following table. The equivalent information for the North East Government Office region and the Middlesbrough, Stockton and Redcar and Cleveland local education authority areas is also shown for completeness.
|Position as at January 2004|
|Maintained nursery and primary schools(40)||Other maintained and private, voluntary and independent providers(41)||Total three-year-olds(40)(5508060041)|
|North East Government Office Region||19,300||5,000||24,300|
|Redcar and Cleveland LEA||1,400||90||1,400|
|Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland parliamentary|
|Maintained nursery and primary schools(42)||Other maintained private, voluntary and independent providers(43)||Total four-year-olds(42)(5508060043)|
|North East Government Office Region||26,200||1,800||28,000|
|Redcar and Cleveland LEA||1,600||20||1,600|
|Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland parliamentary|
The latest figures on early years provision for three and four-year-olds in England were published in Statistical First Release 18/2005 Provision for children under five years of age in EnglandJanuary 2005 (provisional)", which is available on the Department's website www.dfes.gov.uk/rsgateway/
Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will take steps to provide support in meeting the cost of Sure Start places for parents whose children are not entitled to free places but who are on low incomes. 
Beverley Hughes: The majority of services available through Sure Start local programmes are free at the point of use. Local programmes are, however, able to charge parents for child care services provided. Given this, the Government are committed to ensuring that high quality places for children under five, where care and education are integrated, are both affordable and accessible to all parents, particularly those living in disadvantaged areas.
To this end, the 10-year child care strategy, published in December 2004, set out our vision for ensuring that every child gets the best start in life and giving parents more choice about how to balance work and family life.
Child care costs are currently subsidised by tax credits which are rightly targeted at lower and middle income families. The working tax credit is designed to help with the costs of registered or approved child care. From April 2005 the maximum child care element of the working tax credit increased from £135 to £175 for one child and from £200 to £300 for two or more children, subject to a maximum portion of child care costs payable of 70 per cent. From April 2006 the maximum will increase from 70 per cent. to 80 per cent. These changes were expected to benefit 20,000 families straight away and many more over time.
From 2006 the 12.5 hour free entitlement to early education for 33 weeks per year will be extended to cover 38 weeks per year for all children aged three or four. From 2007 the free entitlement will begin to increase to 15 hours per week, with all children receiving 15 hours by 2010 on the way to a goal of 20 hours per week. Parents will have the flexibility to use the free entitlement across a minimum of three days. This will result in better choices for all parents who need full day, all year round child care, improved affordability for parents; and more sustainable income for providers.
From April 2007 maternity leave will be extended to nine months with a goal to increase this to 12 months by the end of next Parliament, and with the right for the mother to transfer a portion of her maternity leave to the father. This will enable parents to have greater choice about how to balance their work and family responsibilities.
Beverley Hughes: Under the Childcare Approval Scheme (CAS) initial checks take various forms, predominately a telephone helpline service. Records are not maintained on the number of inquiries that relate to checks through this service. The total number of inquiries handled by the helpline is 12,134 since the service opened on 4 January 2005.
Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills on what basis the decision to require child carers to renew their approval annually under the Sure Start approval scheme was made. 
Beverley Hughes: Many nannies" change employment on a regular basis and at present the enhanced Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) disclosure is only valid on the day it is issued. 90 per cent. of respondents to the consultation supported the proposal that renewal should be annual.
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|