On 30th July 2019 the Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, received a written answer from Government, in reply to three questions about children and vulnerable EU nationals and the EU Settlement Scheme:
The Lord Bishop of Durham: (i) HL17344 To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is the status of the guidance issued on 3 April to all local authorities and health and social care trusts in regard to the EU Settlement Scheme and looked-after children and care leavers; and whether it is mandatory for local authorities to follow that guidance.
(ii) HL17345 To ask Her Majesty’s Government what evidence was collected on the children who were non-UK European nationals accommodated under section 20 of the Children Act 1989, their family situations and possible vulnerabilities, before drafting the guidance on EU Settlement Scheme and looked-after children and care leavers issued on 3 April.
(iii) HL17346 To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to evaluate the impact of the funding of support and its provision to vulnerable groups, including analysis of what future work is needed to ensure that vulnerable groups are able to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme after funding ends in March 2020.
Baroness Williams of Trafford: The guidance pack issued to local authorities in England, Wales and Scotland and to Health and Social Care Trusts in Northern Ireland on 3 April is not statutory guidance. The pack puts together in one place, information readily available on gov.uk to provide a useful tool for front line local authority and HSCT staff tasked with supporting looked after children and care leavers. The Children Act 1989 provides the legal framework for local authorities to promote the a child’s welfare and best interests, setting out statutory duties in relation to looked after children in England, with respective authorities for the devolved administrations. Statutory guidance is provided by DfE in relation to this. This statutory duty to promote best interests, coupled with funding provided to local authorities under a new burdens assessment should en-sure that this important work will be done.
During a private trial phase of testing five local authorities were asked for detailed information on the children in their care eligible to apply to the EUSS, including what ID evidence they had access to and family situations in order to ascertain difficulties in obtaining identity documents.
The participating local authorities, along with the seven other community organisations participating in the trial phase provided detailed feedback on challenges they encountered during the test phase, which was considered before drafting the guidance. The new burdens assessment takes into account work required to identify the cohort of eligible children as well as work needed to undertake the EUSS application process itself.
Organisations awarded grant funding are required to submit monitoring reports to the Home Office and this content will be used to assess of the grant funding. Grant funded organisations will be reporting on the number of vulnerable people they have supported to make applications and this will assist in determining what future support is required after March 2020.