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Young People

Volume 490: debated on Friday 27 March 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what assessment he has made of the (a) capability and (b) capacity of local authorities to deliver the changes to the machinery of local government required in respect of his Department's policy for 14 to 19 year olds. (267092)

As part of the transfer of commissioning of 16-19 education and training from the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) to local authorities we have asked that local authorities work together in sub-regional groups that reflect the travel to learn patterns of young people.

The Department developed a two stage process to assess the capability and capacity of local authorities as they prepare for the transfer. In stage one, in September 2008, the Department asked local authorities to provide information on the sub-regional group they would be working in. A national panel reviewed the information and provided feedback in October.

The second stage of this process is now underway. The local authorities in each sub-regional group have provided information on how the they will operate, including: governance, resources, capacity and policy and planning to ensure they can undertake their future commissioning roles effectively. These proposals have been submitted to the Department and a national panel has been convened on 8 April to review them, identify any strengths and weaknesses and what support might be required.

Following on from the national panel the Department will be working with Government Offices, the Learning and Skills Council, The Local Government Association, the Association of Directors of Children's Services, the Association of Colleges and the Association of Learning Providers to ascertain what progress has been made, what further capacity and capability issues might have arisen, but also to identify and share good practice.

Subject to the successful passage of the Apprenticeship, Skills, Children and Learners Bill the Department plans to transfer around 1000 Learning and Skills Council staff to local authorities as we recognise they have the expertise, knowledge and appropriate skills required by local authorities.

To support local authorities through this process and help them develop their capacity and capability, the Department funded the REACT (Raising Expectations Action) programme from November 2008. This programme provides a package of support for local authorities to assist help build capacity and understanding through the transition period. It has been developed with the Local Government Association and the Association of Directors of Children's Services.

In addition a wider £20 million commissioning support programme for Children's Trusts was launched in September 2008 which includes a specific strand of support focussed on pre-19 commissioning.