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12 Jan 2009 : Column 249W—continued

Information for households housed in private sector tenancies allocated by local authorities is not collected centrally.

Sight Impaired

Tom Levitt: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what guidelines her Department follows in respect of making printed materials and forms accessible to people suffering red/green colour blindness. [245711]

Mr. Khan: The Department follows COI Informability advice that the use of red and green together as text/background should be avoided. This includes the use of tints and solid blocks of colour.

As an additional accessibility measure, the Department's website provides Word format files for all new publications and signposts the availability of alternative formats on request.

Small Area Data Programme

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the (a) purpose and (b) remit of her Department's Small Area Data programme is. [245980]

Mr. Khan: Communities and Local Government supports the development and use of a wide range of small area data. Its purpose is principally to provide better information at a neighbourhood level to help tackle deprivation, identify priorities at a neighbourhood level and promote better service delivery and performance management.

The Social Exclusion Unit's report ‘Policy Action Team 18: Better Information’ (2000)

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recognised the critical role of access to statistics for small areas in order for local service providers to better understand the nature and patterns of deprivation in neighbourhoods.

Between 2001 and 2006 the Neighbourhood Renewal Unit within this department (and formerly the Office for the Deputy Prime Minister) worked collaboratively with the Office for National Statistics (and in co-operation with other Departments) on the development of Neighbourhood Statistics Service (NeSS) to meet the requirements of PAT 18. The NeSS programme evaluation can be found at:

CLG continues to work with closely with ONS and across Government to support the development of small area data relating to deprivation and regeneration.

The current remit of CLG's small area data programme covers socioeconomic statistics across Government relating to deprivation, regeneration and renewal. CLG's focus continues to be on enabling local and regional regeneration professionals to improve their strategic planning, monitor progress and target interventions on their most deprived neighbourhoods in support of the Regeneration Framework. The consultation document can be found at:

This includes supporting the local management of data and the development of local information systems

Better availability of small area data helps local strategic partnerships monitor, performance manage and deliver against their local area agreements.

CLG also has direct responsibility for the development and production of small area statistics relating to deprivation (Indices of Multiple Deprivation)

Social Housing (National Register of Social Housing

and Fires (Fire and Rescue Service Incidents published on NeSS).

Social Rented Housing: Evictions

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many care leavers were evicted from social housing in 2007 as a result of rent arrears. [245275]

Mr. Iain Wright: The information requested is not held centrally.

South East Plan

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what plans her Department has to publish the final version of the South East Plan by the end of 2008. [245994]

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Mr. Khan: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave the hon. Member for Guildford (Anne Milton) on 24 November 2008, Official Report, column 1140W. This stated that the Secretary of State expects to publish the south east's regional spatial strategy in the spring of 2009.

Travelling People

Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much the North West Regional Assembly spent on producing its digital versatile disc entitled Gypsy and Travelling Show People. [246369]

Mr. Khan: The “Somewhere to Live” DVD was commissioned to support the on-going Partial Review of Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS) which is focussing on a number of topics including Gypsy and Traveller Pitch Provision and Travelling Showpeople Plot Provision. 4NW, formerly known as the North West Regional Assembly, spent £6,513.10 on the production of this DVD.

Young Muslim Advisory Group

Mr. Paul Goodman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the remit of the Young Muslim Advisory Group is; what the criteria will be for selecting its members; what she expects its running costs to be; what funds have been allocated to the group for the three years from 2008-09; and if she will make a statement. [245539]

Mr. Khan: The members of the Young Muslims Advisory Group (YMAG) were announced on 7 October 2008 following a public recruitment process involving a written application, and attendance at a residential seminar.

The remit of the Young Muslims Advisory Group, as set out in the recruitment advertisement is:

The criteria for selecting the YMAG’s final 22 members are set out as follows:

Communication skills

Teamwork skills

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General skills

The management of the YMAG was awarded to the Office for Public Management through an open tender process. The value of this contract is £250,000 for the two years from September 2008.

International Development

Afghanistan: Children

Ms Abbott: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what proportion of UK aid to Afghanistan is intended to assist children in 2008-09; what steps his Department is taking to deal with unexploded ordnance in Afghanistan, with particular reference to the protection of children; and if he will make a statement. [246541]

Mr. Douglas Alexander: The Department for International Development (DFID) will spend £60 million through the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund. This provides finance, among other things, for teachers’ salaries directly benefiting the 6 million children now in school and health services and support to the health sector (specifically training) which reduces infant mortality.

DFID currently funds and has made a further five year commitment of up to £10 million to the HALO Trust’s demining programmes in Afghanistan. The purpose of these programmes is to return high-priority mined land and suspected hazardous areas to productive use, and to providing children with safe areas to work and play.

Ms Abbott: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps his Department is taking to assist the Afghan government to uphold its commitments under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child; and if he will make a statement. [246545]

Mr. Douglas Alexander: The Department for International Development (DFID) works in partnership with the Government of Afghanistan (GoA) to ensure the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is upheld. This policy is incorporated into DFID’s state-building, growth and livelihoods programmes.

DFID’s contribution to the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF) of £60 million (2008-09) is supporting Afghan children realise their right to education. The ARTF contributes to the salaries of over 100,000 teachers and six million students are now enrolled in school. In 2001 this figure stood at one million, very few of whom were girls, who were denied education under the Taliban.

In 2008 DFID contributed £11 million to the World Food programme to support the provision of wheat to 425,000 households over the winter period, ensuring fewer Afghan children are in danger of sliding further into poverty and malnutrition.

The UK, in partnership with the Afghan Government and international community, is committed to providing a safe and secure environment in which children can freely access schools, clinics and public spaces.

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Afghanistan: International Assistance

Mr. Ellwood: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what systems are in place to co-ordinate all international aid efforts in Afghanistan. [246711]

Mr. Douglas Alexander: The United Nations Assistance Mission to Afghanistan (UNAMA) is mandated with coordinating the international development effort behind the Government of Afghanistan's (GoA) National Development Strategy (ANDS). The ANDS offers renewed opportunity to align and coordinate aid behind GoA priorities. DFID is supporting its implementation with a £2.7 million (2006-09) programme of assistance to support UNAMA and establish a coordination monitoring board.

In the long term, building capacity and using government systems is the most effective way for the GoA to coordinate funding with national priorities and to ensure value for money. DFID is therefore committed to spending at least 50 per cent. of our annual budget through government channels.

Afghanistan: Overseas Aid

Ms Abbott: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps his Department takes to ensure that aid to Afghanistan (a) is used to strengthen local and national civil society and the Afghan government and (b) reaches those most in need, particularly children; what steps his Department takes to ensure that bodies in Afghanistan receiving aid are held accountable for where the aid goes; and if he will make a statement. [246542]

Mr. Douglas Alexander: The Department for International Development is providing £4.5 million over the period 2006-07 to 2008-09 to the Governance and Transparency Fund to strengthen national civil society in Afghanistan. This is providing assistance—delivered through several international NGOs (including Cranfield University, Relief International and Making Integrity Work) working with a wide range of local partners including the Afghan Civil Society Forum, Integrity Watch Afghanistan, the Afghan Institute for Management Training and Enhancement of Indigenous Capacities, the Killid Group.

Delivery of aid through Government of Afghanistan (GoA) channels is the most effective way to build state capacity, ensure value for money, and co-ordinate funding with national priorities. At local level, the National Solidarity Programme (NSP) supports the creation of Community Development Councils (CDCs), which decide, on behalf of their village or community, what is most needed in their area. So far over 21,700 Community Development Councils have been established across Afghanistan with over 45,200 projects under way or completed. NSP is being implemented across the country by 28 local and international NGOs and by UN Habitat.

In addition we are providing £1.5 million in core funding for the Afghanistan Evaluation and Research Unit (AREU), an independent policy research organisation which has a programme of work aimed at measuring the effectiveness of international donor assistance (including that provided by the UK).

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Ms Abbott: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps his Department is taking to protect (a) Afghani people, (b) vulnerable populations in Afghanistan and (c) children in Afghanistan; and if he will make a statement. [246543]

Mr. Douglas Alexander: Strengthened, transparent and accountable policing and justice systems are critical to protect Afghanistan’s population from insecurity and criminality. The UK is working with the US and EU to reform the Afghan police and funding a bilateral mentoring programme in Helmand province. The UK provides over 50 experts for this purpose. We are working with the Government of Afghanistan (GoA) to strengthen both the formal justice sector (through the GoA’s National Justice Programme) and the informal justice system. Improving people’s access to justice and dispute resolution is a critical aspect of this work, through legal aid and training in legal and rights awareness. The UK’s justice adviser in Helmand has for example established a Women and Children’s Justice Group, helping vulnerable groups to have their rights better protected.

Food insecurity in Afghanistan has been particularly acute in 2008-09 due to drought and to global food price increases. Around 4.5 million people are currently vulnerable to food scarcity with women, children, and the poorest disproportionately affected. In 2008 DFID provided the World Food Programme (WFP) with £11 million to respond to the food crisis. WFP deliver food on the basis of a Food Vulnerability Assessment which ranks districts in terms of food vulnerability and informs delivery priorities accordingly.

Additional suffering is caused by mines and explosive remnants of war: it is estimated that 728 km(2) still requires some form of clearance and over 4 million Afghans live in mine-affected areas. DFID funds the HALO trust (an expected £4.6 million in 2008-09) to undertake a demining programme, in order to return hazardous areas to productive use and reduce the threat to the population.

DFID Afghanistan has developed a Gender Equality Action Plan to drive awareness and focus on gender issues within our development programme. The plan covers gender-disaggregated results monitoring, explicitly mapping staff and programme resources against gender objectives, and an internal skills development programme. A significant portion of our effort will be focused on building partnerships within the GoA and with other donors—particularly multilateral institutions—to increase their contribution to addressing gender inequality. DFID will lobby UNDP, the World Bank, and the Ministry of Agriculture to strengthen their approaches to gender issues.

Mr. Ellwood: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many non-governmental organisations are contracted by the Government to work in Helmand province; and what projects they are undertaking. [246710]

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