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Sure Start Programme: Ethnic Groups

Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families (1) what representations he has received from ethnic minority groups on the Sure Start scheme; [149923]

(2) what expenditure there has been on targeting the Sure Start scheme at ethnic minority communities; [149924]

(3) what comparative studies his Department has commissioned on the value of the Sure Start scheme to different ethnic minority communities; [149925]

(4) what discussions officials in his Department have had with counterparts in the Department for Communities and Local Government on the assistance provided by the Sure Start scheme to ethnic minority communities. [149927]

Beverley Hughes: Supporting families from black and minority ethnic families is a key priority for Sure Start local programmes and children's centres. The Department of Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) allocates grant funding to local authorities and decisions on spending this are taken locally. However we encourage them to take positive steps to provide services specially targeted to meet the needs of black and minority ethnic families.

A comprehensive national evaluation of the Sure Start programme is being carried out on behalf of DCSF by the Institute for the Study of Children, Families and Social Issues, Birkbeck, University of London. This looks extensively at the experience of ethnic minority communities in Sure Start local programmes and specifically includes an assessment of the impact of Sure Start local programmes on child, family and parental outcomes from which impacts for children and families from different ethnic minority groups can be identified. The national evaluation uses the 2001 census ethnic group classification with results generally focusing on the following groups: White, Mixed Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Black Caribbean, Black African and Other. An early assessment of the impact of Sure Start local programmes on children, families and communities published in November 2005 found no significant differences in outcomes for children and families from different ethnic minority groups. The next phase of the longitudinal study of impacts is due to be published in spring 2008 and will include an assessment of impacts of the Sure Start programme for different ethnic minority groups. In addition, a focused study on how Sure Start Local Programmes worked with black and minority ethnic groups that identifies good practice in working with BME groups has also been carried out as part of the national evaluation and is available on the DCSF website at:

The revised practice guidance for local authorities and Sure Start children's centres, published last November, took account of the findings in the focused study report and gave advice about how to engage and support families from black and minority ethnic communities. We also issued late last year a performance management framework to help local authorities and children's centres judge how well their services were meeting and improving
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outcomes for families. This included specific advice about monitoring access and outcomes of black and minority ethnic families. In addition, ‘Together for Children’, the consortium appointed to support local authorities during the children's centre roll-out, have produced a toolkit which features advice and case studies on reaching families at greatest risk of social exclusion, including Black and minority ethnic families.

My officials are in contact with their counterparts at the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) about how Sure Start children's centres provide support to minority ethnic communities and DCLG are also represented on the steering group for the national evaluation of Sure Start. My Department has received no representations from ethnic minority groups on the Sure Start scheme.

Sure Start Programme: Standards

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what recent assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the Sure Start programme; and if he will make a statement. [149866]

Beverley Hughes: There is a comprehensive national level evaluation of Sure Start in place, which began in January 2001 and will run until 2008. To date, 24 reports have been published, including four published at the end of June. These can be found at:

Each element of the evaluation explores how effective Sure Start local programmes (SSLPs) are and provides examples of good practice and understanding that can feed into the future development of children’s centres. A number of these studies focus on a specific aspect of work, for example, outreach and home visiting or maternity services, others take a more overarching view such as the reports “Understanding Variations in Effectiveness amongst SSLPs” and “Changes in the Characteristics of SSLP Areas between 2000/01 and 2004/05” that were published last month.

These studies found that SSLPs were most effective when they implemented the programme well across all areas and that particularly important factors were having robust structures for governance and leadership, a welcoming and inclusive atmosphere, and empowerment of providers and users of services. They also found that there had been improvements in Sure Start local programme areas between 2001 and 2005, such as a reduction in the number of children living in workless households that was larger than that for England as a whole, though such changes cannot be directly linked to the work of the Sure Start programme.

Early findings from the evaluation’s Impact Study were published in November 2005 and showed that SSLPs had had some positive impacts on parenting and child outcomes, but that more needed to be done to reach the most disadvantaged groups. A fuller assessment of the impact of Sure Start based on a longitudinal study of children at age three years will be published in spring 2008.

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International Development

Afghanistan: Overseas Aid

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will make a statement on delivery of humanitarian aid in Afghanistan. [149531]

Mr. Malik: According to the United Nations Office for Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA)(1), the following has been contributed to the humanitarian effort in Afghanistan over the last three years:

US $







Prior to 2003, the majority of DFID aid to Afghanistan was focused on immediate reconstruction and humanitarian needs. In 2003-04, the focus shifted to long- term developmental programmes in support of the Government of Afghanistan.

DFID still retains some limited capacity to respond to humanitarian crises. For example, in 2006-07 the UK committed the following humanitarian aid to Afghanistan: £1 million for drought mitigation; £1.2 million to support HALO Trust's de-mining programme; and £30,000 to provide food and other essential items like soap and blankets for 3,000 internally displaced families in Helmand.

Security concerns present difficulties for NGOs and development workers wishing to operate in some areas, particularly the south. This is why the presence of NATO forces, and British troops in Helmand, are essential to create the conditions in which humanitarian aid can be delivered more effectively. The vast majority of Afghans want to see a peaceful, prosperous, democratic country. We will continue to support them.

(1) OCHA website database at:

Departments: Freedom of Information

Mr. Andrew Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will list the requests made to his Department under the Freedom of Information Act (FOI) 2000 in the last six months; and what the (a) FOI case reference number, (b) request summary, (c) request outcome and (d), where appropriate, reason for exemption was in each case. [149030]

Mr. Malik: A list of DFID Freedom of Information requests between January and June 2007 has been placed in the Library of the House.

Developing Countries: Water

Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will make a statement on the effects of climate change on the provision of water in developing countries; and what steps his Department is taking on the matter. [150232]

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Mr. Thomas: Climate change will affect the availability of water through levels of rainfall increasing (around the equator and in higher latitudes), decreasing (in mid-latitudes), becoming more variable from year to year and being more extreme (excessive rainfall in wet seasons and longer and more pronounced droughts in dry seasons). This will make provision of water in developing countries, where access to clean water is already extremely low and management of water for agriculture and other activities is weak, even harder.

The UK is already committed to helping developing countries increase access to clean water. We are doubling funding available for water and sanitation in Africa to £91 million by 2007-08 and then doubling it again to £200 million a year by 2010-11. We have issued a Global Call to Action, calling for increased money for water and sanitation, for it to be spent more effectively and for the right structures to be in place to make this happen.

We are also working to help developing countries take account of the impact of climate change on their ability to provide access to water. The new £800 million Environment Transformation Fund, announced in the last budget, will provide funds for developing countries to adapt to the impact of climate change, including on water. As the largest donor to the UN’s Special Adaptation Funds, at £20 million, we are already helping developing countries take account of adaptation in their planning. We are improving access to relevant climate data for developing countries to plan on the basis of likely water availability. We are funding research into the best local responses to climate change, including to water supply problems, through our £24 million support to African research institutions, and will do the same in Asia and Latin America. We are making sure our own investments, including in the water sector, take account of the impact of climate change, as part of our on-going climate risk assessment exercise in Bangladesh, China, India and Kenya. And the impact of climate change will be central to our new water resource management strategy.

In the longer term, the Government are working to minimise the impact of climate change on developing countries by achieving a post-Kyoto deal which stabilises greenhouse gas emissions below a dangerous level.

Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what funding his Department provides to increase water provision in developing countries. [150233]

Mr. Thomas: Provisional estimates of DFID bilateral expenditure show that DFID spent £46.8 million on water and sanitation in financial year 2006-07.

In addition to direct bilateral expenditure on specific water and sanitation projects, spending on a range of other projects and programmes across DFID's portfolio will contribute to improving water supply and sanitation in developing countries. DFID's total support to the water sector—including through the World Bank, the multilateral development banks and the EC—was estimated to be £242 million in 2005-06, the latest year for which figures are available on this basis.

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Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what estimate his Department has made of the number of people in the world without access to clean drinking water; and whether it is predicted that this figure will rise or fall in future years. [150231]

Mr. Thomas: The number of people lacking access to clean drinking water is estimated to be 1.1 billion.

If current trends continue, the number of people without access to clean water will decrease further by 150 million by 2015, leaving over 900 million without access. In sub-Saharan Africa the situation is much worse, with the number of people without access to clean water increasing by 60 million between 1990 and 2004, taking account of the increase in population of 217 million. On current trends, between 2004 and 2015 the number of people lacking access to clean water in sub-Saharan Africa will increase by a further 47 million, taking account of projected population increases of 200 million.

St Helena: Airport

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what the original budgeted cost for St. Helena airport was; and what the most recent estimated total outturn cost is. [149912]

Mr. Malik: Cost estimates for the St. Helena airport have not been published, as to do so could prejudice the outcome of the current competitive procurement process. DFID continues to update its estimates as additional information becomes available during the development of specifications for the airport and through the tender process.

Western Sahara: Overseas Aid

Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much aid has been provided to western Sahara refugees by his Department; and how much is planned to be provided in 2008-09. [150510]

Mr. Malik: DFID does not have a bilateral aid programme for western Sahara refugees. However, between September 2006 and January 2008 the European Community Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO) is providing a €10 million (£6.8 million) package of relief in the sectors of food, water, sanitation, health, education and shelter through various UN agencies and international NGOs. The UK contribution is 17.3 per cent., which is approximately £1.2 million. DFID also contributed $49 million to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in 2006 for its work with refugees across the world, including from western Sahara. DFID's humanitarian aid package for 2008-09 has not yet been agreed.



6. Andrew Selous: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what steps his Department is taking to improve the literacy and numeracy of prisoners. [150200]

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Maria Eagle: Delivering the basic skills of reading and writing is a key priority, bolstering employability and reducing re-offending as is the achievement of work skills qualifications.

Offender education spend has trebled from £57 million in 2001 to £183 million this year. 36 per cent. of prisoners are engaged in education, up from 30 per cent. 94,200 prisoners improved their literacy, language or numeracy skills by at least one level between 2001-04 and gained 249,104 work skills qualifications in total. The introduction of the Offender Learning and Skills Service planned and funded by the LSC should enable us to build on this issue.

Nick Herbert: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what projection he has made of the prison population in England and Wales on (a) 1 October, (b) 1 January, (c) 1 April and (d) 1 July in each year to April 2012. [150503]

Mr. Hanson: Prison population projections have been published in Home Office Statistical Bulletin 11/06 (July 06). Three scenarios (high, medium, low) have been calculated. All figures relate to the last day of the month. The projected prison populations closest to 1 October, 1 January, 1 April and 1 July in each year to April 2012 are shown in the following table.

End of month High Medium Low

September 2007




December 2007




March 2008




June 2008




September 2008




December 2008




March 2009




June 2009




September 2009




December 2009




March 2010




June 2010




September 2010




December 2010




March 2011




June 2011




September 2011




December 2011




March 2012




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