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Grant Programmes

Volume 167: debated on Monday 12 February 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science when he will publish the report of the efficiency scrutiny of his Department's specific grant programmes; and if he will make a statement.

I am today publishing the report of the efficiency scrutiny of my Department's two main specific grant programmes, education support grants and the local education authority training grants scheme. The scrutiny was undertaken as part of the efficiency unit's scrutiny programme.I welcome the report's conclusion that both grants are meeting their objectives, and have promoted important and beneficial developments which would not otherwise have happened. The evidence received by the scrutiny provides overwhelming support for the two schemes, and I readily accept the recommendation that they should continue.The main recommendation for change is that we should move to bring the two grants together into a unified scheme. I endorse this in principle. It should promote better co-ordination between the grants, with training needs being considered alongside other forms of support, such as materials and advisory staff. This should be particularly valuable for activities supporting the implementation of the education reforms. It should also offer administrative savings.Ministers will be giving further consideration to the legislative and practical implications of this change, taking account of the views of the local authority associations. We shall also consider, with a view to implementation, the other recommendations for improving the administration and evaluation of the grants. I would hope to begin to take account of them in drawing up proposals for the grant programmes for 1991–92, which I shall be announcing in the spring.Copies of the report have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses. They are also being sent to all local education authorities and other interested bodies.