§ Ms Hodge
[holding answer 21 December 2000]: Total Government expenditure on under-fives in England is estimated to increase from £1 billion in 1996–97 to £2 billion by 2003–04. We intend to create 80,000 additional places for three-year-olds during 2001–02.
For three-year-olds, the Government will make £250 million available in direct grant to fund nursery education places and related earl years initiatives in 2001–02. This will increase to £328 million in 2002–03 and to £408 million in 2003–04.
The funding for three-year-olds, paid via direct grant, has been weighted by measures of deprivation and also takes account of previous allocations of places to individual authorities. While we continue to allocate the highest proportion of places to the most disadvantaged areas, we have increased the minimum participation rate in 2001–02 for authorities with lower levels of deprivation to around 40 per cent.
The Government will continue to fund early education places for all four-year-olds. From April 2001, funding for four-year-olds will be allocated through education standard spending (ESS). £122 million has been made available to fund providers who previously received nursery education grant for their four year-olds. Guidance to early years development and child care partnerships makes it clear that the full value of this funding should be passed on to providers at the 2001–02 rate of £1,188 per place.