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30 Jan 2006 : Column 71W—continued

Childminders

Mr. Paul Goodman: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what changes have taken place in the measurement of the number of childminders since 2001. [43671]

Beverley Hughes: From 1999 to 2003 the number of childminders and childminder places created were reported to the Department by local authorities.

Since March 2003 the Department has been able to use more reliable childminder and place data recorded by Ofsted.

Children's Commissioner for Children

Mr. Spellar: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what was the cost of the Children's Commissioner for England in the last year for which figures are available. [45944]

Beverley Hughes: In March 2005 the Government appointed Professor Al Aynsley-Green as England's first Children's Commissioner. From this point, the Commissioner worked on a part-time basis until he formally took up his post on 1 July 2005. The total cost of the Children's Commissioner for England in financial year 2004/05 was £113,018. The Commissioner will prepare a statement of his accounts for the financial year 2005/06 which will be laid before Parliament once the Comptroller and Auditor General have examined and certified the statements.

Dedicated Choice Advisers

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how the entitlement of access of the least well-off parents to the dedicated choice advisers referred to on page 8 of the White Paper, Higher Standards, Better Schools for All will be determined. [46435]


 
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Jacqui Smith: We intend to publish guidance for local authorities on choice advice which will cover a range of issues including the role of the choice adviser, potential delivery models, and targeting the service. This guidance is currently in development and will be published shortly.

Dedicated Schools Grant

Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) on what basis Wirral local education authority was allocated an average dedicated schools grant of £3,514 per pupil; [45857]

(2) on what basis the average Dedicated Schools Grant was £6,708 per pupil in the City of London. [45858]

Jacqui Smith [holding answer 26 January 2006]: The calculation of the Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) in 2006–07 and 2007–08 takes authorities' 2005–06 level of spending as the baseline, rather than their Schools Formula Spending Share (SFSS); it gives all authorities a minimum increase of 5 per cent. per pupil over the baseline in each of the next two years; and then distributes the remaining grant to reflect the Government's key priorities for education.

The Wirral's baseline spending in 2005–06 was £3,279 per pupil, which reflects its spending of 2 per cent. below SFSS. Given the 5 per cent. per pupil increase, in 2006–07 Wirral is receiving an additional £2.78 million to reflect the Government's key priorities for education, plus an additional £0.687 to help move its per pupil funding towards the level indicated by the funding formula. Its average guaranteed unit of funding in 2006–07 is therefore £3,514 per pupil. That gives the Wirral an indicative allocation of DSG in 2006–07 of £171.6 million.

In the City of London's case, its baseline spending in 2005–06 was £6,286 per pupil which reflects its spending of more than 75 per cent. in excess of SFSS in 2005–06. Given the 5 per cent. per pupil increase, plus an additional £27,000 to reflect the Government's key priorities for education, the City of London's average guaranteed unit of funding in 2006–07 is £6,708 per pupil. Its indicative allocation of DSG in 2006–07 is £1.7 million. Given that the City of London only has about 250 pupils, it is not possible to make meaningful comparisons between its unit costs and those of other authorities.

Departmental Expenditure

Pete Wishart: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what the annual expenditure on vehicles has been for (a) her Department and (b) each (i) non-departmental public body, (ii) executive agency and (iii) other public body for which she is responsible in (A) Scotland, (B) Wales, (C) each of the English regions and (D) Northern Ireland in each of the last three financial years; and what the planned expenditure is for 2005–06. [39997]

Bill Rammell: The annual expenditure on vehicles for the Department for Education and Skills in each of the last three years is as follows.
 
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Amount (£)
2002–03263,000.00
2003–04416,250.00
2004–05493,500.00

The increase in expenditure for the period 2003–04 was attributable to; The Department's continuation of the Private User Scheme (PUS), purchase of new vehicles and the number of vehicles over three years old with 60,000+ miles resulting in vehicles being less cost effective and costing more to run.

A similar expenditure for the period of 2004–05 saw the purchase of a number of new cars to replace older and less efficient vehicles within the fleet.

Planned expenditure for 2005–06 is £270,000.00.

Mr. Hands: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will estimate the cost to her Department of sending Christmas cards in 2005. [46481]

Maria Eagle: The Department again sent electronic cards following the launch last year. A small number of printed cards were produced and sent via the governmental inter-departmental service or Royal Mail. No breakdown of the delivery methods is available which would enable an accurate assessment to be made.

All expenditure incurred in the purchase and dispatch of official Christmas cards is made in accordance with the departmental guidance on financial procedures and propriety, based on the principles set out in Government Accounting.

The cost of printing the Department's Christmas card this year was £2,324.

Printed Christmas cards are distributed to Ministers and senior officials on request. A central team was in place to avoid duplication of recipients.

Departmental Pensions Liability

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what the total pensions liability of the Department is. [39921]

Maria Eagle: The Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme is an unfunded multi-employer defined benefit scheme and individual departments' pension liabilities are not available. The Cabinet Office: Civil Superannuation Resource Accounts for 2004–05 showed that the total pension liability at 31 March 2005 was £84.1 billion. As a result of a change in the discount rate used for calculating pension liabilities with effect from 1 April 2005, the total pension liability at 1 April 2005 increased by £10.6 billion to £94.7 billion.

Departmental Targets

Mr. Wills: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what national target she has set for (a) improving children's (i) communication skills and (ii) social and emotional development, (b) schools' development of anti-bullying accreditation schemes, (c) placing of children with adopters within 12 months of the decision that this was in their best interests and
 
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(d) increasing the proportion of leaders of integrated early years education and childcare settings with a Level 4 or above qualification. [45548]

Beverley Hughes: The Sure Start Public Service Agreement (PSA1) covering (a) and (b) is to improve children's communication, personal social and emotional development so that by 2008 50 per cent. of children reach a good level of development at the end of the foundation stage, and reduce inequalities between the level of development achieved by children in the 20 per cent. most disadvantaged areas and the rest of England.

There is no national target for schools' development of anti-bullying accreditation schemes.

The target for placing children with adopters was by 2004–05 to increase to 95 per cent. the proportion of looked after children placed for adoption within 12 months of the decision that adoption is in the child's best interests, up from 81 per cent. in 2000–01, and maintain this level (95 per cent.) up to 2006, by locally applying the timescales in the national adoption standards, taking account of the individual child's needs.

No target has been set for increasing the proportion of leaders of integrated early years education and childcare settings with a level 4 or above qualification. However, proposals in the Children's Workforce Strategy envisage a graduate level early years' professional in every Sure Start Children's Centre by 2010 and in every full day care setting by 2015.


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