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Meg Munn [holding answer 15 February 2006]: Government have introduced a variety of measures to support parents and carers in various aspects of their lives. These include a range of benefits and increased access to pensions that have and will continue to benefit many women.
Many non-working mothers have benefited substantially from measures introduced by the Government since 1997, such as tax credits. Child tax credit provides support to families with children, which is payable alongside child benefit to the main carer (usually the mother), regardless of whether they are in work or not. Budget 2005 announced a commitment to increase the child element of child tax credit at least in line with average earnings up to and including 200708. From April the child element of child tax credit will be worth up to £1,765 a year for each child.
Also the introduction of Home Responsibilities Protection (HRP) and the state second pension have both been successful in helping women who care for their children full-time to secure a better income for their retirement. Around 1.8 million of the 1.9 million carers who will benefit from the state second pension are women.
Phil Hope: The information requested is not available. However a baseline survey of 3,300 maintained schools published in September 2005 showed that 85 per cent. of nursery schools, 59 per cent. of primary schools and 58 per cent. of secondary schools were offering some form of adult education (including family learning and parenting courses). We will have more details following the 2006 schools' census exercise.
Bill Rammell: The overall aim of the Learning and Skills Beacon arrangements is to help improve quality across the learning and skills sector as a whole. Colleges and other providers are awarded Beacon status both to recognise their excellence and to ensure the spread of quality nationally.
Secondly, the LSC and the Department consider the candidate providers, in terms of provider type and region, so as to ensure that there is a reasonable geographical spread and mix by type of provider, thus enabling the maximum impact on the quality of the sector as a whole. There is no upper limit on the number of Beacons in any one area.
After taking account of the first two stages, individual providers are invited to submit proposals on how they will assist improvement and reform nationally. These are considered by an independent advisory panel consisting of a number of key organisations in the sector.
Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many cases are waiting to be allocated to a caseworker in the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS); and what the average length of time was for allocation of new cases to a caseworker in each CAFCASS region in the last year for which figures are available. 
Maria Eagle: This is a matter for the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS). Anthony Douglas, the CAFCASS chief executive, has written to the hon. Member with this information and a copy of his reply has been placed in the House Library.
At 30 November 2005 (our most recent data collection point), 275 or 2.5% of our public law cases were unallocated. Public law includes applications for local authority care and supervision orders and applications for adoption. At 30 November 2005, 1419 or 16.5% of our private law reports were unallocated. This figure is a snapshot provided on a monthly basis. Private law includes applications for parental responsibility, residence and contact, where parents have been unable to reach agreement and Rule 9.5 cases under the Family Proceedings Rules (1991), in which a child involved in a private law case is represented by a Guardian ad Litem. Of the private law reports unallocated, 326 or 3.8% were unallocated less than 10 weeks before filing date, which is our performance indicator agreed with Government for private law.
The allocation of cases, particularly in private law, is now under review as part of our Every Day Matters consultation programme, which has been focusing on all aspects of our professional strategy and performance. A key shift will be towards an early intervention model in those cases, which will benefit most from that. We also now have dispute resolution schemes in place in our local teams, and families who can benefit from this service now receive a prompt and timely service.
We do not collect data for the average length of time for the allocation of new cases to a caseworker by region, though I keep overall performance by region and local teams under constant review through the work of the CAFCASS Performance Board which meets monthly.
I would like to add that CAFCASS is committed to providing a quality service to all its users. CAFCASS believes that the welfare of the child is paramount and any decisions made about a child's future must reflect this principle. This means we give priority to situations in which children face most distress or instability.
Mr. Gauke: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what measures she has taken to improve procurement in the higher education sector; and what savings have been made as a consequence. 
We will be measuring efficiency gains from a range of specific initiatives which contribute to our Gershon efficiency target, including those in the higher education
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sector. These are set out in our Efficiency Technical Note at www.dfes.gov.uk/publications/docs/DfES%20Efficiency%20Technical%20Note.doc In most cases, the gains are recyclable at the front line into other activities rather than being clawed back by the Department. The Department is reporting progress towards our overall efficiency target through existing departmental reporting processes. We reported progress towards our target in the Department's autumn performance report and will report further progress in the departmental annual report which we expect to publish in April.
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