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Extended Schools

19. Mr. Martlew: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills What discussions she has had with local authorities about extended schools. [41080]

Beverley Hughes: Local authorities have a vital role to play in developing extended services as part of their work on Every Child Matters". We meet regularly with
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local authorities. Good progress is being made. All local authorities are establishing strategic plans within their children and young people plans. Schools will have a new legal duty to have regard to those plans when developing extended services. The national remodelling team, which is working with all local authorities, report the good progress that, thus far, 4,400 schools have expressed their willingness to develop extended services.


Dr. Francis: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what steps her Department is taking to enhance the rights of carers. [37909]

Beverley Hughes: This Government are the first to recognise the contribution and concerns of all carers formally and are supporting carers on a number of fronts through the work of several departments.

The Carers and Disabled Children Act 2000 strengthens the rights of carers to an assessment of their own needs as carers and involves a new right to a carer's assessment. It gives local councils mandatory duties to support carers by providing services to carers directly and in the provision of breaks, and as well, supporting carers by providing direct payment for carers' services. These direct payments can be made to families with disabled children and disabled young people aged 16 and 17 who have been assessed as needing services. Direct payments are cash payments made by the local authority to disabled young people or families, to enable them to purchase social care services that best meet their needs. The Health and Social Care Act 2001 made the offer of direct payments mandatory.

The Carers (Equal Opportunities) Act 2004 builds on previous legislation and makes changes to the existing law around carers' services. There is now a duty on councils to inform carers of their right to an assessment of their needs. When assessing carers councils must also take into account whether the carer works or wishes to work, undertakes or wishes to undertake education, training or leisure activities. The Act also facilitates co-operation between authorities in relation to the provision of services that are relevant to carers. DfES worked closely with DH on this legislation.

We are increasing funding for short breaks through yearly increases in the carer's grant. This is leading to increases in services for parents of disabled children. The carers grant is worth £185 million in 2005–06. Approximately 20 per cent. is spent on children's services, including services to disabled children and children and young people under 18 who are care-givers for other members of their family. In the last local government finance settlement, we confirmed our commitment to continue the carers grant until the end of the 2007–08 financial year.

The DfES is also funding a national freephone helpline, run by Contact a Family (a national registered charity) to provide information for parents of disabled children on disability and to support them in contacting other families, developing local and national support groups and acting as a voice to raise awareness and campaign for families.
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Child Disabilities

Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what assessment she has made of the (a) feasibility and (b) merits of a national centre for early intervention for children with disabilities; and if she will make a statement. [40939]

Beverley Hughes: Early intervention is an important part of early years policy and my Department continues to promote the early support programme for young disabled children and their families as an ongoing, central feature of our policy in England. As part of that approach, my Department asked Mencap and other stakeholders to undertake a feasibility study to assess the viability of a National Centre for Early Intervention. I welcome their report. However, because the funding implications of a national centre are significant, I have now requested a robust business appraisal of the cost benefits of such a centre and how it might be funded. Further consideration will then be given to their report as part of the comprehensive spending review.

Childcare Bill

Mr. Prisk: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what estimate her Department has made of the cost to local authorities in (a) England and (b) Hertfordshire of fulfilling the statutory duties included in part 1 of the Childcare Bill. [33515]

Beverley Hughes: The Government have already planned to increase expenditure on early years and child care from £958 million in 2004/05 to £1.8 billion in 2007/08, an increase of 55 per cent. A total of £4.4 billion will be available in 2007/08 when funding for the free early education offer is taken into account.

This substantial increase in funding will provide the framework for support to local authorities as they take forward their responsibilities under the Bill. There is no need for additional money because:

The vast majority of Sure Start funding will be routed through local authorities by 2008 and funding is already in place to deliver these services through the General Sure Start Grant (GSSG).
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Local authorities were advised of their funding allocation in winter 2005. This allocation will include capital and revenue for children's centres and Extended Schools, together with revenue for Sure Start Local Programmes.

Hertfordshire were allocated £38,800,000 for 2006–08including £20,242,000 in revenue. In 2004–06, Hertfordshire received £10,916,000 in revenue, therefore revenue funding has increased by 85 per cent.

Disabled People (Services)

Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what assessment she has made of the continuity in delivery provided by different models of multi-agency transition from child to adult services for disabled people; and if she will make a statement. [37348]

Maria Eagle: The Prime Minister's Strategy Unit report Improving the Life Chances of Disabled People" recommended that

The Secretary of State has endorsed the report. The Department is currently finalising a contract to survey different transition models and to draw up practical guidance for professionals in the field. The work is scheduled for completion by the end of June 2006. It will take account of previous initiatives in this field, such as the Department's longitudinal study of transition planning and outcomes for young people with special educational needs, and of current work, such as the Department of Health-led work on transition to adult services for young people under long-term healthcare. The practical guidance will be disseminated widely on appropriate websites, such as the Transition Information Network.

Adult Education (Ealing)

Stephen Pound: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what steps she is taking to expandvocational education and training for adults in Ealing. [40703]

Phil Hope: The Learning and Skills Council (LSC) London West is responsible for the planning and funding of training to raise the skills of the workforce and potential workforce. It engages throughout the year with providers and employers to ensure that provision matches employer skills demands. There has been considerable recent work in the London borough of Ealing to ensure that said demands are met. This work includes the following:

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Further detailed information is available from Peter Pledger, Executive Director of LSC London West.

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