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Playing Fields

Mr. Greenway: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what procedures she has in place to monitor the extent to which the proceeds of sale from the disposal of school playing fields are being used for sport and education. [51917]

John Healey [holding answer 23 April 2002]: Section 77 of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998 requires local authorities to obtain the consent of the Secretary of State before disposing of school playing fields.

Applications to dispose of school playing fields are assessed against the following criteria:

Only those applications that meet the criteria, including the finance criterion, are approved. Since July 2001, all applications have been scrutinised by the independent School Playing Fields Advisory Panel to make sure that they comply with the published criteria. The panel comprises representatives from the National Playing Fields Association, the Central Council of Physical Recreation, the education organisation Learning through Landscapes, the National Association of Head Teachers and the Local Government Association.

Millennium Volunteers Projects

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills which Millennium Volunteers projects are based in (a) Buckingham constituency and (b) Buckinghamshire; and what is (i) the nature of the

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project, (ii) the date of establishment, (iii) the funding received and (iv) the level of participation in each case. [51390]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: (a) There are no Millennium Volunteers projects based in the town of Buckingham.

(b) There are two Millennium Volunteers projects based in the county of Buckinghamshire—Aylesbury Youth Action and Milton Keynes borough council.

City Academy

Mr. Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills, pursuant to her answer of 10 April 2002, Official Report, column 136W, on the City Academy, Newcastle, if she will state the dates of the discussions with potential sponsors of City Academy; and if she will list the potential sponsors. [52117]

Mr. Timms: I would refer my hon. Friend to my answer of 10 April. I am not in a position to comment on discussions which may have taken place between local authorities and potential City Academy sponsors, and would reiterate that my Department has received no formal approach regarding a City Academy in the city of Newcastle area.

Vocational Qualifications (Financial Support)

Mr. Watts: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what action her Department is taking to provide financial support to low paid families whose children take vocational qualifications when they leave school. [51302]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: There are two principal sources of support for young people taking vocational qualifications in schools or colleges, both administered by DfES. Further Education Learner Support Funds help students aged 16–19 who are from low income families or who face a particular financial difficulty. Payments are made to eligible students in school 6th forms and FE colleges for course related costs, including transport, child care, residential and hardship funding. In 2002–03, the Department increased overall discretionary support funding for young people in FE to £54 million, an

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increase of £10 million since 2000–01. It is not possible to say how much of this funding was received by young people studying for vocational qualifications.

In addition to the Learner Support Fund, the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) is also available to young people in full-time further education in 56 pilot areas in England. In 2001–02, around £100 million will have been spent in the 56 pilot areas, with anticipated spend for 2002–03 of £156 million. Again, it is not possible to say how much of this funding was received by young people taking vocational courses.

For young people in work-based training, which does not attract a wage, we provide support through the Minimum Training Allowance (MTA). The MTA is currently worth at least £40 per week, although the local Learning and Skills Councils (LSCs) who administer MTA are able to pay higher local rates. In addition to weekly payments, local LSCs are also able to assist young people on MTA in difficult financial circumstances by giving additional help towards costs such as transport and the purchase of learning equipment etc.

In all these cases, payment is made directly to the young person, with the exception of some of the EMA pilots where the option of payment to a parent or guardian is being trialed.

Support for families is administered by the Department for Work and Pensions and the Inland Revenue. Child benefit and any child allowances paid with other benefits and tax credits are paid to families with children under 16, or to families with children over 16 but under 19 who are continuing in full-time non-advanced further education. The new child tax credit, to be introduced in April 2003, continues that practice.

Voluntary Sector (Funding)

Mr. Letwin: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills, pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for South-West Bedfordshire of 25 January 2002, Official Report, columns 1185–86W, on Government funding of the voluntary sector, if she will list the grant schemes and other mechanisms by which (a) her Department and (b) the Basic Skills Agency distributes funding to voluntary sector organisations. [51408]

Mr. Ivan Lewis [holding answer 19 April 2002]: The information requested is as follows. This includes relevant grant schemes and policy and research programmes which involve the distribution of funds to the voluntary sector.

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