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Beverley Hughes: Connexions Card and education maintenance allowance are different Government projects which were introduced in different years. Elements of both were contracted out under separate tendering processes in line with Government procedure.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what the expected length is of the contract with Capita for (a) the Connexions Card Project and (b) the education maintenance allowance. 
Beverley Hughes: The Connexions Card contract with Capita was signed in July 2001 and is due to expire in December 2008. The education maintenance allowance is a five-year contract signed in July 2003 and is due to expire 31 July 2008, with an option to extend for a further two years.
Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what mechanisms are in place in his Department to monitor payment of external consultants; what guidelines apply to their use; who is responsible for monitoring the cost-effectiveness of using consultants; and if he will make a statement. 
The Department has a number of contract managers and budget officers who are delegated the responsibility for monitoring the payment of external consultants and the cost-effectiveness of using
consultants, both individually and across their budgets as a whole. In addition, the Department holds a set of consultancy framework agreements which are monitored both individually and centrally.
Contract managers and budget officers have access to web-based guidance and practical support on relevant Government policy and regulations and, specifically, on how to identify and establish the need for consultancy support, how to appoint a consultant and how to get the best from consultancy.
Following a review in March 2005 on the engagement and use of consultants by the Departments internal audit division and the National Audit Office (NAO), a good practice guide was published by the NAO. This also forms a part of the Departments internal guidance on consultancy. A copy has already been placed in the House Library.
Sir Gerald Kaufman: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills when he will answer the letter to him dated 6 March from the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton with regard to Adele Reynolds. 
Sir Gerald Kaufman: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills when she will answer the letter to her dated 16 March from the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton with regard to Joane Carr. 
Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will list the departmental initiatives for each year since 2000 which required bids for funding from (a) voluntary organisations and (b) local authorities together with the total resource allocated to each initiative in each year; how many successful bids there were in each year; what proportion this figure represents of the total bids received; and what assessment she has made of the costs of (i) preparing bids for each initiative and(ii) assessing those bids. 
|Table 1: Departmental initiatives requiring bids from local authorities (£000)|
|Name||2000-01||2001-02||2002-03||2003-04||2004-05||Amount spent 2005-06|
|(1) Bids from local authorities were not taken every year.|
(2) This was a two year scheme but in the second year it moved from a bidding process to an allocation of funds by formula.
(3) This scheme that was only run for two years.
(4) Figures for earlier years can only be provided at disproportionate cost because of Machinery of Government changes to Children's Services.
(5) The 14-19 Pathfinder Programme ran for the three years from 2002-03 to 2004-05 but bids were only made in the first two years.
|Table 2: Departmental initiatives requiring bids from voluntary organisations (£000) ( 1,2)|
|Name||2002-03||2003-04||2004-05||Amount spent 2005-06|
|(1) Some grants cover a period greater than one year so money allocated to any one year is different from money bid for by voluntary organisations.|
(2) Figures for earlier years can only be provided at disproportionate cost because of Machinery of Government changes to Children's Services. No figures are available for 2000-01.
(3) This scheme has become the Sure Start VCS Grant in 2005-06.
Information on the number of successful bids in proportion to the number of bids received and the costs of assessing and preparing each initiative are not kept centrally within the Department. To gather all the information required would involve disproportionate cost.
Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills pursuant to the Answer of30 March 2006, Official Report, columns 1165-7W, on departmental policies, what measures are being investigated by his Department for disseminating information about the effects of his Department's policies at local level; what discussions have taken place to ensure political neutrality is maintained; what the target audience will be; and what budget will cover such operations. 
Jim Knight: The Department continues to give a high priority to the release of information about education and skills in all local areas on its own research and statistics(1) website and In Your Area(2) website. Officials in the Department also work closely with the Office for National Statistics and the Department for Communities and Local Government to develop the Department's response to the Neighbourhood Statistics Service by publishing increasing levels of information about local areas on the Neighbourhood Statistics(3) website and other dissemination vehicles. The information released on these websites complies with the National Statistics Code of Practice and is objective and politically neutral. The political neutrality of data is guarded by the Department's chief statistician who reports to the Office for National Statistics on such matters. On the recommendation of the National Audit Office the Department has introduced template driven commentaries to ensure that information about local areas is accompanied by consistent and objective commentary that complies with the National Statistics Code of Practice. Additional steps have also been taken to make it clear to users of the information that the commentary accompanying statistics about local areas refers to the national picture.
The Department provides information required by a wide ranging audience for a variety of uses. Customers include members of the public, academics, practitioners, local authorities, other front line organisations and other government departments. In this regard the Department is continually looking to improve its range of statistical products by reviewing the relevance, quality, timeliness, content and presentation of its statistical products. The content of much of the local information released to data has been developed in response to demand from customers and many of the statistics and geographies displayed are relevant to the information requirements and priorities of the Neighbourhood Statistics and Neighbourhood Renewal programmes. My Department will continue to work closely with customers including the Office for National Statistics and the Department for Communities and Local Government to increase the range of information about education and skills in all local areas.
The release of information about local areas is covered by the Department's administrative budget with additional administrative and programme funding provided by the Office for National Statistics and Department for Communities and Local Government.
David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what percentage of the staff in his
Department is (a) male, (b) female and (c) disabled, broken down by grade. 
|Responsibility level||Male||Female||Declared disabled|
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