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Postal Status (Unemployed Claimants)

Ms Roseanna Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment how many people were awarded postal status due to hardship incurred by travel expenses to sign on at the nearest job centre in the last five years, broken down by region. [155094]

Ms Jowell [holding answer 26 March 2001]: Responsibility for the subject of the question has been delegated to the Employment Service agency under its Chief Executive. I have asked him to arrange for a reply to be given.

Letter from Clare Dodgson to Ms Roseanna Cunningham, dated 28 March 2001:


As the Employment Service is an Executive Agency, the Secretary of State has asked Leigh Lewis to reply to your question about the number of people awarded postal status due to hardship incurred in attending Jobcentres. This is something which falls within the responsibilities delegated to Mr Lewis as Chief Executive of the Agency. I am replying as Chief Operating Officer for the Employment Service.

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I am afraid it is not possible to provide a count of the number of people being awarded postal status due to hardship incurred by travel expenses to sign on at the nearest Jobcentre. People are required to attend the Jobcentre each fortnight as part of maintaining their claim for Jobseeker's Allowance. However, depending on circumstances, some people are allowed to maintain their claim by post--those who would have to spend an unreasonable amount of time travelling to the Jobcentre, and those who have a mental or physical disability which restricts their mobility.
Postal status is not usually awarded on the basis of costs incurred for attending the Jobcentre. However, Jobcentre Managers do have some discretion in offering this facility if someone's journey would involve the use of a form of transport which they could not be expected to use on a regular basis, for example, a ferry.
I hope this is helpful.

Higher Education Funding

Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what response he has made to the final report from the Funding Options Review

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Group of Universities UK, with particular reference to their calculation of the funding requirements for higher education. [155164]

Mr. Wicks [holding answer 23 March 2001]: The Government have welcomed the report from the Funding Options Review Group of Universities UK as a helpful contribution to the debate about the funding of higher education. The Government are increasing funding to universities and higher education colleges in England by £1.7 billion over the six years to 2003-04; funding per full-time equivalent student will increase in real terms in 2001-02 for the first time in over a decade. The funding shortfall identified in the Universities UK report is for 2003-04. The Government will address the funding needs of the sector from 2003-04 in the next Spending Review.

Computers

Mr. Jim Murphy: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment when the Computers Within Reach programme will be introduced throughout the United Kingdom. [155249]

Mr. Wills: Computers Within Reach is a Capital Modernisation Fund (CMF) scheme. Such schemes are intended to provide funding for piloting new policy approaches and are not designed to fund full national schemes. It was therefore never intended that the existing CMF funds allocated, £15 million, would be rolled out as a national scheme. We are currently in phase 1 of the scheme working in certain areas of England. The scheme is an England-only rather than a UK pilot.

We will be evaluating the impact of this, and other pilot CMF schemes such as "Wired Up Communities", alongside our existing policies on "digital divide" issues before we make decisions on our next steps.

Veterinary and Medical Students

Mr. Borrow: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what his policy is on the number of choices of course made available to veterinary and medical students applying to higher education. [155354]

Mr. Wicks: The admissions procedures for higher education courses are determined by the higher education institutions themselves and applied by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service. Ministers are precluded by legislation from involvement in admissions although the number of medical places is set by the Government.

Sure Start

Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment for what reasons Warrington was not included in the most recent round of Sure Start projects; and what assessment was made of the levels of deprivation in Warrington, North prior to the decision being taken. [155458]

Yvette Cooper: Sure Start districts are identified on the basis of levels of need and deprivation. Once a district has been selected by the Government, it is for a partnership of local stakeholders within the district to choose the precise catchment area. To date 260 Sure Start areas over four waves have now been identified and invited to develop programmes. Warrington was invited to develop a Sure Start programme as part of the third wave.

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In selecting districts for the fourth wave, an assessment of levels of deprivation and the number of existing Sure Start programmes in Warrington was made alongside assessments for other districts in England. Taking into account these factors, Warrington was not invited to develop a second programme at this stage.

As a result of the 2000 Spending Review, the number of Sure Start programmes will be increased to 500 by 2003-04 and will reach at least a third of poor children under four in England. The next 240 areas, although not yet decided, will be identified using similar criteria to those used previously, namely levels of deprivation and poverty. There is a possibility that Warrington may be selected for a further programme at some time in the future.

Sandra Gidley: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment how much Sure Start money has been allocated to the Romsey constituency. [155861]

Yvette Cooper: None. Sure Start targets children under four living in disadvantaged areas as part of the Government's drive to tackle poverty and social exclusion. Local authority districts are identified by the Government on the basis of their levels of need and deprivation and then invited to develop programmes. The Romsey constituency includes parts of the Test Valley, Eastleigh and Southampton districts. Test Valley and Eastleigh have not been selected for Sure Start. Southampton has been invited twice to develop Sure Start programmes, first in the Trailblazer wave and then, most recently, in the fourth wave. Following invitation, it is for local stakeholders within the district to choose the precise catchment area, and for both Southampton programmes the areas chosen are outside the Romsey constituency.

As a result of the 2000 Spending Review, the number of Sure Start programmes will be increased to 500 by 2003-04 and will reach at least a third of poor children under four in England. The next 240 areas, although not yet decided, will be identified using similar criteria to those used previously ie. levels of deprivation and poverty. In addition, small pockets of deprivation in otherwise generally affluent areas may be targeted.

School Funding

Mrs. Humble: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if he will list the cash resources paid directly to Blackpool, North and Fleetwood schools, by sector, in each financial year since 2 May 1997, indicating the schools that benefited and the sum involved in each case. [155459]

Ms Estelle Morris: Most funding provided by the Department is distributed via local education authorities. Allocations for schools in the Blackpool, North and Fleetwood constituency between the years 1997-98 and 2000-01 under the New Deal for Schools scheme are set out in the table. The Department does not hold information on other support provided to Blackpool, North and Fleetwood schools since 2 May 1997. The Secretary of State wrote to my hon. Friend on 16 February setting out the total funding for her local education authorities (Blackpool and Lancashire) for the years 1996-97 to 2001-02.

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New Deal for Schools (NDS): Allocation for schools in the Blackpool, North and Fleetwood Constituency

Year/School ProjectGrant awarded (£)
1997-98(43)--
1998-99
May have been included in LEA wide project of 189 schoolsInstallation of safety glazing(44)400,000
May have been included in LEA wide project of 17 schoolsReplacement of deteriorating boiler systems(44)637,000
May have been included in LEA wide project of 10 schoolsRepair or deteriorating roofs(44)622,000
Anchorsholme PrimaryTreatment of flat felt roof surfaces with liquid plastics Decothane Gamma 15 system58,200
Claremont PrimaryRe-roofing of ground floor teaching area21,500
Moor Park JuniorCompletion of the over roofing21,500
Norbreck PrimaryUpgrade outside toilets8,600
Montgomery HighDevelopment of hard-standing on site50,410
1999-2000
Included within a 10 school package:Re-roofing project(44)367,500
Montgomery High
Included within a 14 school package:
Great Arley
Thornton-Cleveleys Burn Naze Primary Window repairs and replacement(45)516,000
Fleetwood Chaucer Community Primary
Included within a 13 school package:
Thornton-Cleveleys Burn Naze PrimaryRoof works(45)549,700
Included within a 25 school package:
Thornton Cleveleys Sacred Heart Catholic PrimaryPlayground repairs(45)300,000
2000-01
Included within a six school package:
Cardinal Allen Catholic HighRefurbishment of CDT(45)1,502,992
Included within a three school package:
Montgomery HighReplacement of temporary classrooms(45)570,688
Included within a four school package:
Montgomery HighReplacement windows(45)220,000
Included within a 13 school package:
Great Arley Replacement windows(45)566,350

(43) Nil allocation for schools within this constituency

(44) Local education authorities (LEAs) were not required to specify individual schools included within projects for phase 2 of the NDS programme, so the amount shown is the total project allocation to the LEA. Lancashire or Blackpool local education authorities hold project level information.

(45) Denotes total allocation made to package projects covering more than one school. Lancashire or Blackpool local education authorities will be able to advise the value of projects at schools which have benefited from these allocations.


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Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what recent studies he has conducted into the impact of in-year changes in pupil numbers in the per capita funding of individual schools. [155875]

Ms Estelle Morris: The Financing of Maintained Schools Regulations give local education authorities wide discretion as to the timing and extent of funding changes for in-year pupil number changes. The Regulations are kept under regular review in order to ensure that they enable schools' needs to be met; and furthermore my right hon. Friend has power to approve alternative arrangements if these are needed in particular circumstances. The Department has not conducted any specific studies of the working of in-year pupil number funding changes.


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