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Duchy of Lancaster

Households Below Average Income

4. Jo Swinson: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what assessment she has made of the implications of the households below average income report for 2005-06 for social exclusion. [131497]

Hilary Armstrong: This Government have made significant progress in tackling child poverty. Since 1997 we have lifted 600,000 children out of relative poverty. Our drive to meet the challenges raised in the Households Below Average Income Report will be addressed by the recent Budget measures which are anticipated to lift a further 200,000 children out of poverty.

Social Exclusion

5. Mr. Simon: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what assessment her Department has made of the key risk factors associated with falling into social exclusion. [131498]

Mr. McFadden: While the Government have a strong record on reducing poverty and social exclusion, the Social Exclusion Action Plan, published in September 2006, identified a number of risks for a small proportion of households, which included: substance misuse, mental health problems, offending, being in care, teenage pregnancy and lack of basic skills. The Government also recognises that children in families with multiple problems often go on to experience poor outcomes in later life.

The Social Exclusion Task Force is taking forward a range of initiatives to address these risk factors.

6. Mr. Allen: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what responsibilities she has for promoting early intervention as a means of tackling social exclusion; and if she will make a statement. [131499]

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Hilary Armstrong: The Social Exclusion Action Plan, published in September 2006, identified a number of guiding principles to inform the Government’s approach to tackling social exclusion, including early intervention. The most significant area of current work that links strongly to this principle is the Nurse-Family Partnership pilots, which provide a structured and intensive home visiting programme by health visitors to disadvantaged mothers from pregnancy until the child is aged two.

Third Sector Funding

7. Ann Coffey: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what plans she has to provide micro-grants for small voluntary and community organisations. [131500]

Edward Miliband: In response to the largest ever consultation with the third sector, the Chancellor announced in the Budget a new £80 million fund, spread over four years, to provide core funding to grass-roots community organisations. The fund reflects the vital contribution of small community groups to our society and neighbourhoods.

Charities: Income Tax Cut

8. Bob Russell: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what discussions she has had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the effect on charities of the 2 per cent. cut in the basic rate of income tax from April 2008. [131501]

Edward Miliband: My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer and I have discussed the impact of the cut in the basic rate of income tax on gift aid and the need to build on the progress made since 1997 which has led to an increase in the resources going to charities through gift aid from £134 million to £750 million.

The Charities Aid Foundation estimate that £700 million is potentially available from more tax effective giving and we aim to come forward with measures at the time of the pre-Budget report, prior to the introduction of the basic rate cut next year.

Vulnerable Parents

9. Jessica Morden: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what steps the Government are taking to support vulnerable parents in the first two years of a child’s life. [131502]

Hilary Armstrong: In addition to the universal services provided by health visitors and midwives, the Government have invested over £21 billion on early years and child care services since 1997, with 1,250 Sure Start Children’s Centres already in operation. Moreover, on 2 April 10 health-led parenting pilots went live across England, based on the extremely successful Nurse-Family Partnership scheme. These pilots will provide structured and intensive home visiting to disadvantaged mothers from early pregnancy until the child is aged two.

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Community Assets Ownership

10. Ms Keeble: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what steps she is taking to increase community ownership of public assets. [131503]

Edward Miliband: The Government are committed to expanding the opportunities for communities to manage or own public assets. On 30 March I announced that the Big Lottery Fund will manage the £30 million Community Assets Fund on behalf of the Government. This new fund will seek to improve the ability of local community organisations to take on the management or ownership of local authority assets in England, by offering capital to refurbish them.

The Office of the Third Sector is now consulting on aspects of how the fund will work, to ensure that it will provide long-term benefits for local communities.

Antisocial Behaviour: Families

Anne Snelgrove: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what estimate she has made of the cost of (a) supporting a problem family in the community and (b) early intervention support for such a family. [131170]

Mr. McFadden: There is no archetypal ‘problem family’. We are committed to engaging with families who are excluded because they have multiple problems and the costs associated with supporting a family with multiple problems vary according to the number and type of services being used. Recent HMT analysis of published research suggests that a family suffering from five problems (depression, alcohol misuse, domestic violence, short periods of homelessness and being involved in criminality) are estimated to create costs of between £55,000 to £115,000 per year. Illustrative estimates produced by the Social Exclusion Task Force suggest that a family with parental drug problems and experience of prison, care services and unemployment may use services costing around £117,000 per year.

Early intervention is widely acknowledged as a cost effective approach to supporting families at risk of or experiencing multiple problems. Currently, the most robust assessments of the costs and benefits of early intervention have come from international research. For example, US evaluation of the Nurse Family Partnership model demonstrates that high-quality social support alongside antenatal clinical care for the most at risk families from pregnancy to the age of two has a sustained impact on a wide range of longer term outcomes. Independent evaluations show a per family cost of around US$8,000 over two and a half years which accrues downstream savings equivalent to four times the cost of the actual programme for the most at risk families.

To help build the evidence base on the costs and benefits of early intervention in the UK, the Government are developing and rigorously evaluating a programme based upon the Nurse Family Partnership in 10 areas across England. This programme will go live across 10 areas in April. Furthermore, the Social Exclusion Task Force is
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leading work on analysis of downstream costs associated with social exclusion and savings associated with early intervention.

Departments: Official Hospitality

David Simpson: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what measures are in place to limit the amount of money spent on alcohol for hospitality purposes by her Department. [132209]

Hilary Armstrong: All Cabinet Office expenditure on official hospitality including alcohol is made in accordance with published departmental guidance on financial procedures and propriety, based on principles set out in “Government Accounting” and the “Treasury” handbook on “Regularity and Propriety”, copies of which are available in the Library for the reference of Members.

Education and Skills

Education Maintenance Allowances

Stephen Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what the cost was of education maintenance allowances in (a) 2005-06 and (b) 2006-07; and what the expected cost is in 2007-08. [131576]

Phil Hope: Expenditure on education maintenance allowance in the years requested is shown in the following table.

Full costs ( £ million)

Actual 2005-06


Forecast(1 )2006-07


Expected cost 2007-08


(1 )Final end of year figures on the EMA payments for 2006-07 will not be available until 25 April 2007

Higher Education: Gender

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what studies have been commissioned by his Department on the gender gap in university applications; and if he will make a statement. [132155]

Bill Rammell: The Department has not commissioned any research to look at the gender gap in university applications. Figures from UCAS show that there is a higher number of women applying overall to higher education compared to men—in 2006, of all English domiciled applicants who applied to English HEIs, 55.4 per cent. were female (Source: There are differences between men and women in terms of subjects applied for. More men apply for courses in: Engineering; Mathematical and Computer Science; Technologies; Architecture, Building and Planning; and Physical Science. More women apply for courses in: Education; Medicine; Veterinary Science; Agriculture and Related subjects; European languages; Literature and related subjects; Linguistics; Classics; and Combined Arts.

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We do not clearly know the reasons for the differences in the numbers and patterns of applications between men and women; more broadly prior attainment has been seen as the most significant determinant of HE participation. The Department is, therefore, undertaking internal analysis to look at the gender gap in higher education participation and how it has changed over time.

Higher Education: Practical Training

Mrs. Moon: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what estimate he has made of the number of hours of practical skills based training available in degree courses in higher education in each year between 1996 and 2006. [132095]

Bill Rammell: The information requested is not collected or held centrally. Collecting such information would incur disproportionate costs and be overly bureaucratic.

Higher Education: Student Numbers

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) how many students were studying for a first degree at UK universities in each of the last five years; [132136]

(2) how many (a) UK nationals, (b) non-UK EU citizens and (c) students from countries outside the EU were studying for their first degree in UK universities in each of the last five years. [132157]

Bill Rammell: The latest available information is given in the table.

Students( 1) on first degree courses at UK higher education institution( 2 ) 2001/02 to 2005/06
Students from( 3) :
Academic year UK Other EU countries( 4) Non EU countries Total


























(1) Figures are based on HESA’s Standard Registration Population, which counts the number of students enrolled throughout the year. Includes students on full-time and part-time courses.
(2) Excludes students at the Open University (OU). Up to 2002/03, the OU did not distinguish students on first degree courses from those on other undergraduate courses. The numbers of OU students on first degree courses since then was 82,415 in 2003/04, 85,015 in 2004/05 and 87,585 in 2005/06.
(3) Based on the student’s normal country of domicile.
(4) From 2004/05, includes students from the accession countries.
Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA). Numbers have been rounded to the nearest 5, so components may not sum to totals


Mr. Blunkett: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many individuals (a) have been helped to find courses by learndirect advice services and (b) gained qualifications with the help of learndirect. [131158]

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Phil Hope: Between February 1998 and February 2007 more than 8.5 million calls were made to the learndirect advice line. The learndirect website hosted more than 40 million information and advice sessions.

Users of this service often make more than one call and use the website more than once. An estimated 7 million people have called the learndirect advice line and more than half go on to do a course in the following six months.

The learndirect advice guidance trial, providing free in-depth careers guidance on the telephone, was launched in January 2007. This service provides people with up to three advice sessions over a month-long period. By February 2007 more than 90,000 people had used the learndirect guidance trial.

Learndirect provision is now the size of about 10 FE colleges, with more than 300,000 learners a year. In the academic year 2005-06, learndirect delivered a quarter of the Learning and Skills Council’s target for adult Skills for Life qualifications in England.

Between April 2003 and February 2007, more than 125,000 people have achieved their first Skills for Life (literacy or numeracy) qualification through learndirect. Between August 2005 and February 2007, nearly 3,000 learners have achieved a Level 2 National Vocational Qualification through learndirect. In addition, learndirect ‘Learning through Work’ has enrolled more than 2,500 students. Of these, more than 600 have gained work-based qualifications from level 3 up to level 8, including foundation degrees, honours degrees, and masters.

Students: Finance

Stephen Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what proportion of Higher Education Funding Council for England-funded students are on first full Level 4 degrees. [131580]

Bill Rammell: In full-time equivalent terms, 78 per cent. of all HEFCE funded activity in 2005-06 was attributable to students aiming for a first level 4 degree (i.e. those who entered a first degree or foundation degree without a prior qualification at level 4 degree or above).

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