Written statements

Government Ministers and a small number of other Members of the two Houses can make a written statement to one or both Houses.

Written statements are published below shortly after receipt in Parliament. They also reproduced in the next edition of the Daily Report and of Hansard in the relevant House.

Written statements made before 17 November 2014 were published only in Hansard:

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WS
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Made on: 11 July 2019
Made by: Mr Robert Goodwill (Minister of State for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food)
Commons

July Agriculture and Fisheries Council

Agriculture and Fisheries Council takes place in Brussels on 15 July.

As the provisional agenda stands, the Finnish Presidency will start with a presentation of their work programme for the coming six months.

The main item for agriculture will be on the Post 2020 Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform package, which covers three regulations: the Regulation on CAP Strategic Plans; the Regulation on financing, management and monitoring of the CAP and the Regulation on the Common Market Organisation (CMO) of agricultural products. Member States will exchange views on the environmental and climate-related aspects of the reform package.

The Commission will also present the report from the High-Level Group on the sugar market.

There are currently four items scheduled under ‘any other business’ where the Commission will update the Council about:

  • the state of play on African swine fever;

  • animal welfare during transport in high temperatures during summer months;

  • the progress report on the implementation plan to increase the availability of low-risk plant protection products and accelerate implementation of integrated pest management in Member States; and

  • the outcome of the third African Union – European Union Agriculture Ministerial Conference (Rome, 21 June 2019).

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS1670
WS
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Made on: 27 June 2019
Made by: Mr Robert Goodwill (Minister of State for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food)
Commons

June Agriculture and Fisheries Council

I represented the UK at the Agriculture and Fisheries Council in Luxembourg on 18 June.

The Council discussed the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) budget for 2021-27, and agreed a partial General Approach. The EMFF is part of the wider EU multiannual financial framework 2021-2027, and is intended to ensure the proper implementation of the Common Fisheries Policy’s objectives. While there was disagreement about the level of support for certain aspects of the Fund, such as engine replacement and vessel acquisition, Council approved the partial General Approach with a qualified majority. Although the EMFF will not apply to the UK once we have left the EU, I supported the proposal in line with the position adopted by the majority of Member States.

The Commission then briefed the Council on the progress of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and consultation on fishing opportunities for 2020. While there were a number of successes such as record profits for the industry and improved governance of fisheries through multi-annual plans, the Commission also outlined that challenges remained. 2020 will be the first year that all stocks must meet Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) while the full implementation of the Landing Obligation (LO) continues. In an exchange of views, Member States generally welcomed the Commission communication and restated their commitment to the CFP objectives. I intervened to express the UK’s support for maximising stocks at MSY, but noted that certain exceptions are necessary, such as in mixed fisheries where by-catches must be managed appropriately and in consideration of low volume quota species. I also called for a formal review of the Landing Obligation to inform how compliance can be improved.

In public session the Council discussed a presidency progress report on the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) post 2020 reform package. Open questions across all three CAP legislative files meant that a Council partial General Approach on the texts could not be reached at this stage. Most delegations marked areas where they wanted further debate under the incoming Finnish Presidency. These include the new delivery model which would give Member States more flexibility in the way they use EU funds, achieving environmental outcomes, the exemption of small farmers from conditionality, voluntary coupled support/market orientation, and gender equality.

A number of items were discussed under ‘any other business’:

  • The Lithuanian delegation informed Council of the parlous state of the cod stock in the Eastern Baltic Sea. Lithuania urged the Commission to present an emergency support package for fisheries relying on Eastern Baltic Cod, including direct EMFF support.

  • The Commission informed Member States about the joint recommendations under Article 11 of the CFP Regulation in the field of environmental legislation (Habitats and Birds directives). The Commission highlighted that only a few joint recommendations on fisheries conservation measures had been submitted so far and encouraged Member States to submit further joint recommendations.

  • The Spanish delegation informed Council about the outcome of the congress on the post-2020 CAP green architecture which focused on the environmental and climate change challenges faced by European agriculture.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS1627
WS
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Made on: 20 June 2019
Made by: Mr Robert Goodwill (Minister of State for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food)
Commons

Bovine TB

Today I am updating the House on the implementation of the Government’s strategy to eradicate bovine TB in England by 2038.

Bovine TB remains one of the greatest animal health threats to the UK, causing significant hardship and distress for hard-working farmers and rural communities. Government and industry are therefore continuing to take strong action to eradicate the disease.

Professor Sir Charles Godfray’s independent review of the strategy highlighted a number of potential further actions while noting the difficulties associated with eradicating bovine TB. The review’s conclusions include improving surveillance in cattle herds, the need to continue to address the disease in badgers and for more research and development (R&D). We continue to assess the review’s findings and plan to publish a full response in due course. I am however today providing further information on reinforcing TB testing in the High Risk Area, announcing plans to invite further applications to our badger vaccination grant scheme and confirming the licensing and authorisation by Natural England of three supplementary badger control areas for 2019. Further information is available on gov.uk.

In May 2018 we announced that from 2020 we would introduce six-monthly cattle surveillance testing, with less frequent testing for lower risk herds, in the High Risk Area (HRA) of England to enable earlier detection and eradication of disease, and to prevent it spreading to new areas. Having considered the likely demands that roll out across the whole of the HRA in one step would place on cattle herd owners and the veterinary businesses that carry out the vast majority of the testing we are now working on a phased introduction from 2020. We will provide further details to affected cattle keepers and veterinary businesses in due course.

Vaccination of badgers against TB using BCG can provide a level of protection and can play a role in limiting TB spread to healthy badger populations. Therefore, a third round of applications for the ‘Badger Edge Vaccination Scheme’ (BEVS 2) is now open, with further grant funding available to private groups wishing to carry out badger vaccination in the Edge Area of England. Groups will receive at least 50% funding towards their eligible costs. This builds on the four initial four-year projects we have funded.

Alongside this we are investing in social and economic research to understand farmer behaviours and drivers of: cattle purchase and movement; attitudes to risk-based trading; attitudes to biosecurity, wildlife control and vaccination; and analysis of pros and cons of compensation versus insurance schemes.

In May 2019 fieldwork closed on a self-completion postal survey. Over 1250 responses were received from herd owners across England. This will provide national representative estimates of cattle farmers’ attitudes and behaviours and towards biosecurity, cattle purchasing, and what influences of on-farm decision making. We expect to publish headline findings in July 2019.

In July 2019 fieldwork will commence on a telephone survey of 1500 HRA and Edge Area farms which have suffered a breakdown. The survey will estimate the monetary costs involved in a bovine TB breakdown which herd owners are not compensated for. Including increased staffing and housing costs, and loss of productivity. This will allow accurate analysis of the financial impact of the disease to industry and individual farms. The project will report early 2020.

We are determined to eradicate this devastating disease as quickly as possible.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS1601
WS
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Made on: 13 June 2019
Made by: Mr Robert Goodwill (Minister of State for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food )
Commons

June Agriculture and Fisheries Council

Agriculture and Fisheries Council takes place in Luxembourg on 18 June.

As the provisional agenda stands, the primary focus for fisheries policy will be on the Regulation on the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) for which a preliminary agreement on the proposal, a partial general approach (PGA), is sought in Council. It will constitute the Council’s mandate for negotiations with the European Parliament.

The European Commission will also present its Communication on the state of play of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and consultation on the Fishing Opportunities for 2020, after which Ministers will exchange views.

In the field of agriculture the main focus will be on the Post 2020 Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform package for which the Romanian Presidency has provided a progress report on the negotiations during their Presidency. The progress report will be discussed at Council. The reform package covers the three legislative proposals: Regulation on CAP Strategic Plans, Regulation on financing, management and monitoring of the CAP, and Regulation on common market organisation (CMO) of agricultural products.

There are currently no items scheduled for discussion under ‘any other business’.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS1579
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Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Made on: 14 May 2019
Made by: Mr Robert Goodwill (Minister of State for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food)
Commons

May Agriculture and Fisheries Council

Agriculture and Fisheries Council takes place in Brussels on 14 May.

As the provisional agenda stands, the primary focus for agriculture will be on the Post-2020 Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform package. Ministers will exchange views on the new delivery model in the Regulation on CAP Strategic Plans.

Member States will also exchange views on the agricultural aspects of the Commission’s communication titled ‘Clean Planet for all: strategic long-term vision for a climate neutral economy’.

The Commission will then provide an update on the performance of EU agricultural trade after which Ministers will hold an exchange of views.

There are currently three items scheduled for discussion under ‘any other business’:

  • Information from the Netherlands delegation on the judgement of the Court of Justice on organisms obtained by mutagenesis (case C-528/16).

  • Information from the Spanish and French delegations on the Regulation on the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund.

  • Information by the Belgian delegation on the situation in the fruit sector for apples and pears.
WS
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Made on: 02 May 2019
Made by: Mr Robert Goodwill (Minister of State for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food)
Commons

April Agriculture and Fisheries Council

I represented the UK at Agriculture and Fisheries Council in Luxembourg on 15 April.

The main item on the agenda was the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) post-2020, with a focus on the proposed new green architecture. Ministers highlighted their willingness to commit to higher levels of overall ambition such as spending 30 percent of pillar two funding on climate change actions, and endorsed the new policy design. However, some Member States also pressed for large chunks of the Commission’s proposals to be optional, including some of the Commission’s eco-schemes.

This was followed by a Ministerial lunch debate which focused on the impact of large carnivores and other species on agriculture. The Commission’s position that 100 percent state aid was permissible to compensate for attacks on livestock did not satisfy several Member States, who wanted greater latitude for farmers to shoot wolves and other predators.

Council reconvened with an exchange of views on the Task Force in Rural Africa, with the final report proposing a new alliance between the EU and Africa. I intervened on the item, highlighting the importance of developing countries in the global food supply and giving examples from UK projects that increase smallholder inclusion in the value chain and empower women economically.

Commissioner Hogan also provided an update on the market situation, describing a stable and positive picture overall with concerns in sugar, apples and pears, and olive oil.

A number of other items were discussed under ‘any other business’:

  • The Netherlands informed Council about EU action against Deforestation and Forest Degradation. I intervened, stressing our support for the proposal and encouraged the Commission to prepare an ambitious Communication to step up action against deforestation.

  • Slovakia presented its joint declaration with the Czech Republic and Poland on the Renewable Energy Directive post-2020.

  • The Presidency informed the Council of the outcome of the Research and Agriculture Conference held in Bucharest on 5 April.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS1496
WS
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Made on: 24 April 2019
Made by: Mr Robert Goodwill (Minister of State for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food)
Commons

Contingent liability

It is normal practice when a Government department proposes to undertake a contingent liability in excess of £300,000 and outside the normal course of business, for the Minister concerned to lay a Departmental Minute before Parliament giving particulars of the liability created and explaining the circumstances. The Department should refrain from incurring the liability until fourteen parliamentary sitting days after the issue of the statement.

This Minute relates to the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas), an Executive Agency of Defra, entering into a commercial arrangement with the Kuwait Environment Public Authority (an Authority of the Government of Kuwait) who have asked Cefas to contract with them to provide a marine environment monitoring information system for Kuwait. This is proposed to be a four-year contract of marine science services for which the Kuwaitis will cover all Cefas’ costs, c£40m.

The Kuwait Government wishes to enhance its national environmental management capability to world leading standards and is pursuing a strategy of working with the best international government bodies from strategic partner countries. This Kuwaiti Government objective is being delivered under their Environment Monitoring Information System Kuwait (eMISK) programme which spans Marine, Waste, Terrestrial, Air and Subsurface environments. The Kuwait Environment Public Authority have asked Cefas to tender for the Marine programme and this is supported by both countries at Ministerial level, as set out in the inter-government declarations of the Joint Steering Group.

The benefits of this work to both governments are the significant contributions it will make to the long-term health of the Gulf marine environment. It will also engage the next generation of Kuwaiti scientists in bilateral co-operation with the UK, maintain and develop Cefas’ international capability, and position both Kuwait and the UK in a leading position in this area of science.

The contractual arrangements between the two parties follow standard Kuwaiti national commercial terms and conditions and include two contingent liabilities relating to a performance bond and liquidated damages claims. These liabilities are limited to a maximum of 20% of the c£40m contract value. Professional indemnity insurance will be purchased, using contract funds, to protect the Department against these risks leaving a residual excess value of no more than £250,000. Only uninsurable risks remain which would be due to late delivery or third-party claims.

Cefas and Defra have considered the risks of this indemnity and they believe the likelihood of such indemnities being called upon is very low. Agency or Departmental budgets are expected to fund any liability call. If such budgets are insufficient then for any payment would be sought through the normal Supply procedure.

The Treasury has approved the proposal in principle.

If, during the period of fourteen parliamentary sitting days, beginning on the date on which this Minute was laid before Parliament, a member signifies an objection by giving notice of a Parliamentary Question or by otherwise raising the matter in Parliament, final approval to proceed with incurring the liability will be withheld pending an examination of the objection.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS1479
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Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Made on: 11 April 2019
Made by: Mr Robert Goodwill (Minister of State for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food)
Commons

April Agriculture and Fisheries Council

Agriculture and Fisheries Council takes place in Luxembourg on 15 April.

As the provisional agenda stands, the primary focus for agriculture will be on the Post-2020 Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform package. Ministers will exchange views on the green architecture elements in the Regulation on CAP Strategic Plans.

Council will also exchange views on the agricultural aspects of the Commission’s strategic long-term vision for a climate neutral economy, the market situation, and the Task Force in Rural Africa, an expert group set up by the European Commission.

There are currently four items scheduled for discussion under ‘any other business’:

  • information from the Presidency on research and agriculture.

  • information from the Commission on the Declaration on Smart and Sustainable Digital Future for European Agriculture and Rural Areas.

  • information from the Slovakian delegation on the Renewable Energy Directive post-2020.

  • information from the Netherlands delegation on the EU Action against Deforestation and Forest Degradation.

WS
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Made on: 02 April 2019
Made by: Mr Robert Goodwill (The Minister of State for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food)
Commons

March Agriculture and Fisheries Council

I represented the UK at the Agriculture and Fisheries Council in Brussels on 18 March.

The main item on the agriculture-focused agenda was the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) post-2020, covering three legislative files:

  • the Regulation on CAP strategic plans,
  • the Horizontal Regulation, which is a regulation on the financing, management and monitoring of the CAP
  • the Regulation on common market organisation (CMO) of agricultural products.

Member States highlighted that further discussions were needed in areas such as the delivery model, wine labelling and greening. I intervened to introduce myself and expressed the UK’s interest to share thinking on our domestic arrangements as they develop. During the discussion Ministers also debated the outcome of the congress titled ‘CAP Strategic Plans – Exploring Eco-Climate Schemes’ which took place in Leeuwarden, Netherlands on 6-8 February 2019, as well as the future of coupled income support in the CAP.

Council also held an exchange of views on the bioeconomy. Commissioner Hogan gave an overview of the implementation of the EU’s new strategy while Member States exchanged examples of areas where the bioeconomy is being developed in their countries. I intervened on the item, welcoming the EU Bioeconomy Strategy and pointing to the UK’s national bioeconomy strategy which was published in December 2018.

A number of other items were discussed under ‘any other business’:

- Slovenia informed Council about small-scale coastal fisheries and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund.

- The Netherlands informed Council about a decision by the Technical Board of Appeals of the European Patent Office regarding the possibility to patent the results of classical plant breeding.

- The Commission provided an update about the outcomes of the workshops organised by the Commission Task Force for Water and Agriculture on 27 November 2018 in Sorø, Denmark and on 5-6 February 2019 in Bucharest, Romania.

- Poland provided an update on the potential impact on the meat market considering new trade challenges. As the discussion reflected on the possible impact of the UK leaving the EU, I intervened to set out the reasoning behind our recently published temporary tariff regime for no-deal.

WS
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Made on: 14 March 2019
Made by: Mr Robert Goodwill (Minister of State for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food )
Commons

March Agriculture and Fisheries Council

Agriculture and Fisheries Council takes place in Brussels on 18 March.

As the provisional agenda stands, the primary focus for agriculture will be on the Post-2020 Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform package. Ministers will exchange views on the Regulation concerning CAP strategic plans, the Horizontal Regulation, and the Regulation on the common market organisation (CMO) of agriculture products.

Council will also hold an exchange of views on bioeconomy.

There are currently three items scheduled for discussion under ‘any other business’:

  • information from the Netherlands delegation on the outcome of the congress “CAP Strategic Plans - Exploring Eco-Climate Schemes” (Leeuwarden, 6-8 February 2019)

  • information from the Netherlands delegation on the decision by the Technical Board of Appeals of the European Patent Office regarding the possibility to patent the results of classical plant breeding

  • information from the Commission on the outcome of the workshops organised by the Commission’s Task Force on Water and Agriculture (Sorø, 27 November 2018 and Bucharest, 5-6 February 2019).

[Although not confirmed, we expect an additional item to be added to the agenda under ‘any other business’:

  • information from the Slovenian delegation on small-scale coastal fisheries and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund,

  • information from the Polish delegation on the meat market situation]

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS1379
WS
Department for Education
Made on: 20 December 2017
Made by: Mr Robert Goodwill (The Minister of State for Children and Families )
Commons

Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Update

In March 2017, government committed to introduce a two-year national trial to expand the powers of the First-tier Tribunal (SEND) to make non-binding recommendations on the health and social care aspects of Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans alongside the educational aspects.

I am pleased to announce the Special Educational Needs and Disability (First-tier Tribunal Recommendation Power) Regulations 2017 for the national trial on the single route of redress have been laid in Parliament today and will come into force on 3 April 2018. The national trial will run for two years and we will consider next steps following an evaluation, including whether evidence supports its continuation.

Separately, government has considered its position on powers, provided via the Children and Families Act 2014 to pilot, and subsequently introduce, a right for children under 16 to appeal themselves to the First-tier Tribunal (SEND). After careful consideration, we have decided not to pilot this measure at the current time.

Children are at the centre of the SEND system with person-centred planning and co-production a key part of the Children and Families Act 2014. Local authorities in England are already under a duty to present the child’s views to the Tribunal. The Children and Families Act 2014 has already introduced the right for young people (aged 16 or over) to appeal. Although giving children under 16 the right to appeal would strengthen their voice, there is limited evidence of demand from families or children in England for this right, and in Wales, where the right was established in 2015, there has not been a single appeal from a child.

Government will keep the issue under consideration, including monitoring the position in the devolved administrations and how the current system is working for young people aged 16 and over.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS372
WS
Department for Education
Made on: 14 December 2017
Made by: Mr Robert Goodwill (The Minister of State for Children and Families)
Commons

Advice and guidance for schools and colleges

Today the Government is launching a public consultation on proposed changes to its Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSIE) statutory guidance. All schools and colleges in England must have regard to this guidance when carrying out their duties to safeguard and promote the welfare of children.

KCSIE sets out the legal duties that schools and colleges must comply with, together with good practice guidance on what schools and colleges should do in order to keep children safe. The guidance is extensive, covering what staff should know and do to safeguard children, the management of safeguarding in schools and colleges, safer recruitment and responding to allegations of abuse against staff.

It is important that this guidance is regularly updated to reflect current concerns and best practice. KCSIE was last updated in September 2016 and the time is right to update this guidance again. The consultation document explains a number of proposed changes to KCSIE. The aim is to help schools and colleges better understand what they are required to do by law and what we strongly advise they should do in order to safeguard and promote the welfare of children.

The consultation will last for 10 weeks, closing on 22 February 2018. Following the public consultation, we expect to publish revised guidance, for information, early in the summer term 2018 and for this to come into force in September 2018, at the start of the new school year.

The proposed changes include providing further guidance on sexual violence and sexual harassment between children in schools and colleges. As well as consulting on these changes the government is also today publishing more detailed departmental advice on this issue.

Children and young people must be protected from sexual violence and sexual harassment, and schools and colleges are under a legal duty to safeguard their pupils.

The detailed advice we have published today should help schools and colleges take swift and proportionate action to keep children safe and support victims of abuse.

The advice sets out what sexual violence and sexual harassment look like, the legal responsibilities of schools and colleges and effective safeguarding practice and principles to support schools and colleges in their decision making process when there is a report of sexual violence or sexual harassment.

The issue of sexual violence and sexual harassment in schools was the subject of an inquiry by the Women and Equalities Committee. As part of its response to the Committee’s recommendations, the Department for Education set up an advisory group to review existing departmental guidance, including KCSIE and behaviour and bullying guidance. The Department has worked with the advisory group and other expert stakeholders to draft the advice document and is grateful to them for their contributions.

The consultation document, containing full details of the proposals and inviting responses and the departmental advice can be accessed via gov.uk. Copies of the consultation document and departmental advice will also be placed in the House Libraries.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS351
WS
Department for Education
Made on: 04 December 2017
Made by: Mr Robert Goodwill (Minister of State for Children and Families)
Commons

Childcare update

Today the Government is launching a public consultation on its proposed approach to revising the eligibility criteria for the early education entitlement for disadvantaged 2 year olds in light of the roll out of Universal Credit.

Universal Credit is replacing a number of qualifying benefits for the two-year-old entitlement, including Jobseeker’s Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance, Child Tax Credit, Working Tax Credit and Income Support.

The early education entitlement for two-year-olds was introduced nationally in September 2013 and subsequently extended in September 2014 to include low income working families. We want it to continue to be the case that a wider group of less advantaged children can benefit from high quality early education.

Subject to the outcome of this consultation, we propose to introduce a net earned income threshold of £15,400 per annum for those in receipt of Universal Credit. This threshold would increase the number of children benefitting – around 8,000 more children taking up this entitlement once Universal Credit is fully rolled out and in steady state. We do not propose to change any of the other eligibility criteria for the two-year-old entitlement.

Two-year-olds do not lose their entitlement once it has started so no child who has commenced their entitlement would lose it as a result of the introduction of the new earnings threshold.

If, following the public consultation and subject to the will of the House, the Government decides to take forward its proposals, we expect the revised regulations to come into force in April 2018, in time for the summer term.

The ‘Eligibility for the free early education entitlement for disadvantaged two-year-olds under Universal Credit’ consultation will commence today and run for six weeks. The consultation document, containing full details of the proposals and inviting responses, will be published on the Department for Education’s website. Copies of the consultation document will also be placed in the House Libraries.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS304
WS
Department for Education
Made on: 16 November 2017
Made by: Mr Robert Goodwill (Minister of State for Children and Families)
Commons

Schools and Early Years update

Today the Government is launching a public consultation on its proposed approach to revising the entitlement criteria for free school meals and the early years pupil premium, in light of the national roll out of Universal Credit.

Universal Credit is replacing a number of qualifying benefits for free school meals, such as Job Seeker’s Allowance, Child’s Tax Credit and Income Support.

Subject to the outcome of this consultation, we propose to introduce a net earned income threshold of £7,400 per annum for those in receipt of Universal Credit. A typical family earning around £7,400 per annum would, depending on their exact circumstances, have a total household income between £18,000 and £24,000 once benefits are taken into account. A threshold of £7,400 will increase the free school meals cohort by approximately 5% once Universal Credit is fully rolled out and in steady state. This equates to approximately 50,000 additional pupils being eligible to receive a nutritious free school meal than currently.

Furthermore, to ensure that no child who currently benefits from a free school meal loses this entitlement as a result of this criteria change, we aim to protect current beneficiaries’ eligibility up until the end of the roll-out of Universal Credit. From that point on, all children should retain this protection for the rest of their current phase of education.

The economic eligibility criteria for the early years pupil premium are the same as for free school meals. We believe that this consistency is important so that the most disadvantaged families benefit from this additional funding across the whole age range. As such, we propose to apply the same threshold as mentioned above for free school meals to the early years pupil premium, and to mirror the protection arrangements for current beneficiaries during the UC roll-out period.

If, following the public consultation and subject to the will of the House, the Government decides to take forward its proposals, we expect the revised regulations to come into force in April 2018.

The ‘Eligibility for free school meals and early years pupil premium under Universal Credit’ consultation will commence today and run for eight weeks. The consultation document containing full details of the proposals and inviting responses will be published on the Department for Education’s website. Copies of the consultation document will also be placed in the House Libraries.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS259
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Department for Education
Made on: 01 November 2017
Made by: Mr Robert Goodwill (The Minister of State for Children and Families )
Commons

Safeguarding Announcement

I am pleased to publish this statement about the safeguarding of unaccompanied asylum-seeking and refugee children jointly with my Right Honourable Friend Brandon Lewis MP, Home Office Minister of State (Immigration and International).

Today the Department for Education and the Home Office are publishing three documents relating to the care of Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking and Refugee Children.

The new safeguarding strategy for unaccompanied asylum seeking and refugee children

This new safeguarding strategy sets out the additional actions the Government will take to safeguard and promote the welfare of unaccompanied asylum seeking and refugee children that recognises the increasing numbers and specific needs of these children in the UK.

The strategy includes commitments to:

  • increase placement capacity, improve the skills and confidence of foster carers, and review funding available to local authorities;

  • improve information and advice available to children and families who are reunited through the Dublin Regulation;

  • support professionals caring and working with these children through revised guidance, information and resources;

  • improve processes for transfer of children from Europe and supporting local authorities to assess and provide support for both them and their families.

Alongside the safeguarding strategy, we are publishing two related documents: the Government’s response to the consultation to revise the statutory guidance; and the updated guidance, now called: Care of unaccompanied migrant children and child victims of modern slavery, for local authorities on the care of unaccompanied asylum seeking and trafficked children - first published in 2014. This updated guidance acknowledges the safeguarding challenges that local authorities and partners continue to deal with to give these children stability. I will place a copy of these documents in the House Libraries.

Events around the recent migration crisis have meant that it was necessary to update the guidance to be of maximum use to local authorities who are caring for a bigger and more varied cohort of children. A number of respondents during the public consultation requested that there should also be further recognition of the needs and vulnerabilities specific to unaccompanied children and the measures required to keep them safe and the guidance has been expanded accordingly. The updated statutory guidance also reflects the legislative developments such as the Modern Slavery Act 2015, and policy developments such as the National Transfer Scheme for unaccompanied asylum seeking children.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank all the local authorities, non-governmental organisations and carers who have helped us develop the safeguarding strategy. They will play an integral part in delivering its commitments and we continue to be immensely grateful.

We would also like to express our deep thanks and gratitude to Edward Timpson for all of his work supporting vulnerable children. We are pleased that we can fulfil the commitment to publish this strategy, set out in a joint Written Ministerial Statement in November 2016, in our new roles as Minister of State for Children and Families and Minister of State (Immigration and International).

UASC Safeguarding Strategy 2017 (PDF Document, 612.43 KB)
UASC Statutory Guidance 2017 (PDF Document, 667.65 KB)
This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS214
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Department for Education
Made on: 06 September 2017
Made by: Mr Robert Goodwill (The Minister of State for Children and Families)
Commons

Childcare Update

On 1 September 2017, 30 hours of free childcare for working parents of three and four year olds went live nationally in England, saving families up to £5,000 per year per child. Alongside the childcare support the Government provides through Tax-Free Childcare and Universal Credit, this additional free childcare is easing working families’ budgets, helping them to balance the cost of childcare with work.

The Government investment programme will deliver a record £6 billion per year in childcare by 2020, which includes an extra £1 billion per year to deliver the free entitlements. In addition, a further £100 million in capital funding has been committed to help providers create additional 30 hours places.

More than 200,000 30 hours codes have been issued to eligible parents wishing to take up a place this autumn, which exceeds our target for this term. These families join the existing 15,000 families who are already benefitting from 30 hours free childcare in the twelve early delivery areas.

An independent evaluation of four of these early delivery areas, published on 31 August, found that 30 hours incentivised many parents to increase their working hours or move into work, and parents were overwhelmingly positive about the offer. The report can be found here: www.gov.uk/government/publications/early-rollout-of-30-hours-free-childcare-evaluation. These findings build on the evaluation of the first eight delivery areas, which found that 23% of mothers and around one in ten fathers are working more as a result. The evaluation also shows that more than three quarters of parents reported greater flexibility in their working life as a result of 30 hours, enabling them to spend more time together at home with their children, reducing stress and improving family finances. Importantly, the report found that more than eight out of ten childcare providers who are offering the existing 15 hours entitlements also went on to offer 30 hours. This demonstrates that the sector has responded very positively to the additional demand for childcare places from working families.

During the autumn, I will be closely monitoring delivery to ensure continued improvements to the offer for parents and providers. The Childcare Choices website has now received over 1 million visits since launching in March, and the Department for Education will continue to work with local authorities to ensure parents have high quality information about accessing the offer.

I will continue to work closely with Her Majesty’s Treasury Ministers to ensure that parents are able to access the HMRC-run childcare service smoothly. The majority of parents have successfully applied using the childcare service. Some parents experienced difficulties accessing the service through the system by the 31 August application deadline but those parents who are eligible, and applied before the deadline, will have a code to allow them to access our 30 hours free childcare.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS112
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