Tulip Siddiq Portrait

Tulip Siddiq

Labour - Hampstead and Kilburn

Shadow Minister (Education)

(since April 2020)
Women and Equalities Committee
11th Jun 2018 - 6th Nov 2019
Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee
4th Jun 2018 - 6th Nov 2019
Women and Equalities Committee
11th Sep 2017 - 4th Jun 2018
Shadow Minister (Education) (Early Years)
9th Oct 2016 - 26th Jan 2017
Women and Equalities Committee
6th Jul 2015 - 26th Oct 2015


Department Event
Monday 1st November 2021
14:30
Department for Education
Oral questions - Main Chamber
1 Nov 2021, 2:30 p.m.
Education (including Topical Questions)
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Note: This event involves a Department with which this person is linked, and does not guarantee their actual attendance.
Scheduled Event
Friday 19th November 2021
Private Members' Bills - Main Chamber
Flexible Working Bill: Second Reading
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Department Event
Monday 6th December 2021
14:30
Department for Education
Oral questions - Main Chamber
6 Dec 2021, 2:30 p.m.
Education (including Topical Questions)
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Note: This event involves a Department with which this person is linked, and does not guarantee their actual attendance.
Division Votes
Tuesday 26th October 2021
Judicial Review and Courts Bill
voted No - in line with the party majority
One of 165 Labour No votes vs 0 Labour Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 321 Noes - 220
Speeches
Monday 25th October 2021
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe

I thank Mr Speaker’s office and you, Madam Deputy Speaker, for granting this urgent question. It is my eighth urgent …

Written Answers
Friday 17th September 2021
International Military Services
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, on what date his Department provided IMS Ltd with formal notice of …
Early Day Motions
Tuesday 26th October 2021
The service of Oliver Denton Lieberman
That this House recognises Oliver Denton Lieberman’s dedication and public service as an office manager during many turbulent years in …
Bills
Wednesday 30th June 2021
Flexible Working Bill 2021-22
A Bill to give workers the right to flexible working from the first day of employment except in exceptional circumstances; …
MP Financial Interests
Saturday 11th January 2020
1. Employment and earnings
19 August 2019, received £500 from the Orwell Foundation, Institute of Advanced Studies, Wilkins Building, UCL, Gower Street, London WC1E …
EDM signed
Wednesday 22nd September 2021
The Ministerial Code and the conduct of the Prime Minister
That this House believes that trust in the ministerial code has been eroded by the actions of the Prime Minister; …
Supported Legislation
Wednesday 20th March 2019
Fracking (Measurement and Regulation of Impacts) (Air, Water and Greenhouse Gas Emissions) Bill 2017-19
The Bill failed to complete its passage through Parliament before the end of the session. This means the Bill will …

Division Voting information

During the current Parliamentary Session, Tulip Siddiq has voted in 258 divisions, and never against the majority of their Party.
View All Tulip Siddiq Division Votes

Debates during the 2019 Parliament

Speeches made during Parliamentary debates are recorded in Hansard. For ease of browsing we have grouped debates into individual, departmental and legislative categories.

Sparring Partners
Vicky Ford (Conservative)
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
(23 debate interactions)
Matt Hancock (Conservative)
(12 debate interactions)
Jacob Rees-Mogg (Conservative)
Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons
(10 debate interactions)
View All Sparring Partners
Department Debates
Department for Education
(26 debate contributions)
Department of Health and Social Care
(11 debate contributions)
View All Department Debates
View all Tulip Siddiq's debates

Hampstead and Kilburn Petitions

e-Petitions are administered by Parliament and allow members of the public to express support for a particular issue.

If an e-petition reaches 10,000 signatures the Government will issue a written response.

If an e-petition reaches 100,000 signatures the petition becomes eligible for a Parliamentary debate (usually Monday 4.30pm in Westminster Hall).

Petitions with highest Hampstead and Kilburn signature proportion
Petition Debates Contributed

We ask Parliament to repeal the High Speed Rail Bills, 2016 and 2019, as MPs voted on misleading environmental, financial and timetable information provided by the Dept of Transport and HS2 Ltd. It fails to address the conditions of the Paris Accord and costs have risen from £56bn to over £100bn.

We have the second most expensive childcare system in the world. A full time place costs, on average, £14,000 per year, making it completely unaffordable for many families. Parents are forced to leave their jobs or work fewer hours, which has a negative impact on the economy and on child poverty.

Government should support vulnerable children & #endchildfoodpoverty by implementing 3 recommendations from the National Food Strategy to expand access to Free School Meals, provide meals & activities during holidays to stop holiday hunger & increase the value of and expand the Healthy Start scheme


Latest EDMs signed by Tulip Siddiq

26th October 2021
Tulip Siddiq signed this EDM as the primary signatory on Tuesday 26th October 2021

The service of Oliver Denton Lieberman

Tabled by: Tulip Siddiq (Labour - Hampstead and Kilburn)
That this House recognises Oliver Denton Lieberman’s dedication and public service as an office manager during many turbulent years in politics; appreciates that he has coordinated the campaign within Parliament to free Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and supported her family; acknowledges the role he has played in running an efficient office and …
16 signatures
(Most recent: 27 Oct 2021)
Signatures by party:
Labour: 15
Independent: 1
27th May 2021
Tulip Siddiq signed this EDM as a sponsor on Thursday 27th May 2021

Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2021 (S.I., 2021, No. 161) (No. 2)

Tabled by: Keir Starmer (Labour - Holborn and St Pancras)
That this House believes no child in care should be placed in unregulated accommodation; welcomes measures to ban unregulated accommodation for children aged 15 and under; and regrets the failure of the Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2021 (S.I., 2021, No. 161) to extend this ban …
12 signatures
(Most recent: 7 Jun 2021)
Signatures by party:
Labour: 9
Green Party: 1
Independent: 1
Liberal Democrat: 1
View All Tulip Siddiq's signed Early Day Motions

Commons initiatives

These initiatives were driven by Tulip Siddiq, and are more likely to reflect personal policy preferences.

MPs who are act as Ministers or Shadow Ministers are generally restricted from performing Commons initiatives other than Urgent Questions.


3 Urgent Questions tabled by Tulip Siddiq

Monday 25th October 2021
Tuesday 27th April 2021

Tulip Siddiq has not been granted any Adjournment Debates

2 Bills introduced by Tulip Siddiq


A Bill to give workers the right to flexible working from the first day of employment except in exceptional circumstances; to require employers to offer flexible working arrangements in employment contracts and advertise the available types of such flexibility in vacancy notices; and for connected purposes.


Last Event - 1st Reading (Commons)
Wednesday 30th June 2021
(Read Debate)
Next Event - 2nd Reading (Commons)
Friday 19th November 2021
Order Paper number: 9
(Unlikely to be Debated - would require unanimous consent to progress)

The Bill failed to complete its passage through Parliament before the end of the session. This means the Bill will make no further progress. A Bill to make provision for a maximum period of detention under the Immigration Act 1971 of 28 days; and for connected purposes.


Last Event - 1st Reading: House Of Commons
Wednesday 5th December 2018
(Read Debate)

753 Written Questions in the current parliament

(View all written questions)
Written Questions can be tabled by MPs and Lords to request specific information information on the work, policy and activities of a Government Department
1 Other Department Questions
16th Mar 2021
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, what the Government’s policy is on membership clubs that exclude women.

Under Part 7 and Schedule 16 of the Equality Act 2010, associations, including private clubs, may lawfully restrict their membership to people who share a characteristic, such as sex. This provides scope for associations to restrict membership only to women, as well as those restricting membership only to men.

This is based on the understanding that, if a group of private individuals wish to form a club, then it is appropriate that they should be able to determine membership of the club.

It is however unlawful for a private club that restricts its membership to people who share a particular protected characteristic to discriminate against members, associates, or guests because of other protected characteristics.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
2nd Feb 2021
To ask the Attorney General, pursuant to the Answer of 28 January 2021 to Question 143029 on Taking of Hostages Act 1982: Prosecutions, how many proceedings referred to her Office under article 2 of the Taking of Hostages Act 1982 by the Crown Prosecution Service her Office has consented to prosecute in the last 10 years.

Our records indicate that the Law Officers have consented to prosecutions under the Taking of Hostages Act 1982 on four occasions in the last 10 years.

Michael Ellis
Paymaster General
1st Feb 2021
To ask the Attorney General, how many and what proportion of the staff employed by her Department are apprentices.

The Attorney General’s Office currently have no apprentices. As staffing levels are below 250 the Department does not meet the criteria for the 2.3% target. However, plans are nevertheless in place to recruit 2 or 3 apprentices.

Michael Ellis
Paymaster General
25th Jan 2021
To ask the Attorney General, how many proceedings for an offence under article 2 of the Taking of Hostages Act (1982) her office has instituted in the last 10 years.

The Law Officers do not institute proceedings under this legislation but must consent to any prosecution brought under it. The Crown Prosecution Service would ordinarily institute such proceedings.

The Law Officers apply the established principles of evidential sufficiency and public interest, which have their current expression in the Code for Crown Prosecutors, when considering an application for consent. We act quasi-judicially and independent of government. We do so in accordance with the Framework Agreement between the Law Officers and the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Michael Ellis
Paymaster General
25th Jan 2021
To ask the Attorney General, on what basis she makes an assessment of the applications for instituting proceedings for an offence under article 2 of the Taking of Hostages Act 1982; and whether her Department has published guidance for preparing such applications.

The Law Officers do not institute proceedings under this legislation but must consent to any prosecution brought under it. The Crown Prosecution Service would ordinarily institute such proceedings.

The Law Officers apply the established principles of evidential sufficiency and public interest, which have their current expression in the Code for Crown Prosecutors, when considering an application for consent. We act quasi-judicially and independent of government. We do so in accordance with the Framework Agreement between the Law Officers and the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Michael Ellis
Paymaster General
17th Mar 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what the scientific basis is for the Government's decision to restrict marriage ceremonies to places of worship or public buildings.

Guidance for small marriages and civil partnerships was published on 22 March and can be found here - https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-small-marriages-and-civil-partnerships/covid-19-guidance-for-small-marriages-and-civil-partnerships#wedding-and-civil-partnership-ceremony-venues

We recognise that any restrictions on wedding venues may be disappointing for those planning such events, but we have to take necessary steps to limit transmission of COVID-19. This includes the closure of some settings and restrictions on social contact, including wedding and civil partnership ceremonies. By their very nature, weddings and civil partnership ceremonies are events that bring families and friends together, making them particularly vulnerable to the spread of COVID-19. We appreciate the sacrifices people have had to make across the COVID-19 pandemic and we do not wish to keep any restrictions in place longer than we need to.

In the COVID-19 Response - Spring 2021, the Government has set out the gradual and cautious approach to reopening in England, guided by science and the data, including the staged return of weddings and civil partnerships, as well as sporting events.

In order to inform the pace and sequencing of the roadmap, the Government commissioned advice and modelling from SAGE and its sub-groups. Scientific evidence supporting the government response to coronavirus is regularly published here - https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/scientific-evidence-supporting-the-government-response-to-coronavirus-covid-19.

Penny Mordaunt
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
1st Feb 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, how many and what proportion of the staff employed by No 10 Downing Street are apprentices.

As has been the case under successive administrations, the Prime Minister’s Office and the Government in Parliament are an integral part of the Cabinet Office.

As of 31 January 2021, apprentices make up 2.13% of the department’s workforce.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
13th Jan 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what scientific evidence his Department is using to base its decision to restrict marriage ceremonies to only couples with exceptional circumstances under the January 2021 covid-19 lockdown restrictions.

On 4 January, the Prime Minister announced a National Lockdown for all of England, in accordance with growing evidence of virus prevalence. Under these new restrictions, weddings and civil partnership ceremonies should only take place in exceptional circumstances. Up to six people can attend (including the couple). Anyone working is not included in that limit.

We recognise the restrictions may be disappointing for those planning such events. By their nature, weddings and civil partnership ceremonies are events that bring families and friends together, including from across the country and sometimes across the world, making them particularly vulnerable to the spread of COVID-19. We do not wish to keep restrictions in place for any longer than we have to, and restrictions will be kept under review in line with the changing situation. For further information, please refer to the guidance for small weddings and civil partnerships https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-small-marriages-and-civil-partnerships/covid-19-guidance-for-small-marriages-and-civil-partnerships. There is different advice for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The government continues to regularly make available scientific evidence supporting its COVID-19 response, including at https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/scientific-evidence-supporting-the-government-response-to-coronavirus-covid-19.

On 22 February, the Prime Minister will set out the plan for reopening schools, and gradually reopening the economy and society, in a sustainable way in England.

For further information, please refer to the Coronavirus (COVID‑19) page on gov.uk, which will publish further information regarding the roadmap on 22 February, https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus.

Penny Mordaunt
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
17th Nov 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, pursuant to his Answer of 3 November 2020 to Question 108274 on Cabinet Office: Audit and with reference to the joint ventures listed on page 26 of the Cabinet Office 2019-20 annual report, if he could set out (a) who audits the accounts and (b) whether the accounts are laid before Parliament of (i) Behavioural Insights Team (BIT), (ii) Axelos, (iii) Shared Services Connected Limited (SSCL), (iv) Integrated Debt Services (Indesser) and (v) Crown Hosting Data Centres.

Auditors are named in each company’s annual accounts, copies of which are available from the Companies House website.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
17th Nov 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, pursuant to his Answer of 2 November 2020 to Question 107705 on Government Departments: Email, what cross-government controls exist to ensure that Ministers' and Special Advisors' emails or other communication records are retained in accordance with record keeping policy.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
23rd Oct 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, how many companies or entities his Department (a) controls or (b) has significant influence over whose accounts are not audited by the National Audit Office.

All Cabinet Office arms length bodies are audited by the National Audit Office.

Details of Cabinet Office Joint Ventures are published in the annual report.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
23rd Oct 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what review he has made of (a) his Department’s and (c) cross-Government audit arrangements for Government contracts in the last 12 months; and what changes he has made to those arrangements to ensure (i) their adequacy and (ii) manage risk in relation to the extraordinary procurements undertaken during the covid-19 outbreak.

As has been the case under successive administrations, departments are responsible for their commercial decisions, including the award and monitoring of contracts. Departmental Accounting Officers are responsible for managing risk and agreeing annual audit plans. The Cabinet Office has internal and external audits related to its contractual arrangements. Further audits are planned this financial year.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
22nd Oct 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what guidance his Department has issued cross-government on how long emails should be retained by Departments for (a) civil servants, (b) special advisors and (c) Ministers.

Departments are responsible for their own record keeping. Record management requirements do not differ between civil servants (including special advisers) and Ministers. The Cabinet Office has not issued cross-government guidance on how long emails should be retained.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
25th Jun 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what controls his Department requires from Government departments to identify and disclose the award of Government contracts to entities owned or controlled by Government ministers and senior civil servants from their own or other departments.

Ministers and Civil Servants are bound respectively by the requirements of the Ministerial Code, the Civil Service Code and the Civil Service Management Code, which include provisions for the management of potential conflicts of interest.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
25th Jun 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what controls his Department requires from Government departments to identify and disclose the award of Government contracts to entities owned or controlled by major political party donors.

Ministers and Civil Servants are bound respectively by the requirements of the Ministerial Code, the Civil Service Code and the Civil Service Management Code, which include provisions for the management of potential conflicts of interest.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
6th Feb 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what information his Department holds on the use of offshore accounts by government decision makers; and whether additional risk controls or mitigations are put in place where the use of offshore accounts by those individuals is identified.

I refer the Hon. member to the response which I gave to PQ 12393 on Monday 10 February.

All public office holders are expected to comply with the law as it applies to offshore banking activity.

Oliver Dowden
Minister without Portfolio (Cabinet Office)
4th Feb 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, when his Department last undertook a review of the adequacy of controls on the use of offshore bank accounts by Ministers and senior civil servants.

I refer the Hon. Member to the answer which I gave to PQ 8404 on Monday 3 February 2020.

Oliver Dowden
Minister without Portfolio (Cabinet Office)
27th Jan 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what the requirements are for (a) senior officials and (b) Ministers of his Department to disclose their ownership and use of offshore banking arrangements.

All public office holders are expected to comply with the law as it applies to offshore banking activity.

Ministers and Civil Servants must also uphold the standards of conduct as set out in the Ministerial and Civil Service Code respectively, as well as the seven principles of public life.

Oliver Dowden
Minister without Portfolio (Cabinet Office)
21st Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether his Department has plans to bring forward legislative proposals to modernise flexible working legislation.

The Government’s manifesto included a commitment to encourage flexible working and to consult on whether flexible working can be made the default unless employers have good reasons not to. We will issue this consultation in due course.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
21st Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what his planned timetable is for the consultation on flexible working; and what publications will be published by his Department’s Flexible Working Taskforce.

The Government has committed to consult on whether flexible working can be made the default unless employers have good reasons not to. The consultation will be launched in due course.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department has taken to procure doses of covid-19 vaccine boosters to help deliver immunity to tackle new coronavirus variants which may have greater levels of resistance to available covid-19 vaccines.

The Government is assessing our existing vaccine portfolio against current variants, working closely with vaccine manufacturers and Public Health England to understand the efficacy of our current vaccine portfolio against new variants.

The Government has also established a new partnership with the vaccine manufacturer, CureVac, to rapidly develop new vaccines in response to new Covid-19 variants should this be needed. The new agreement will utilise UK expertise on genomics and virus sequencing to allow new varieties of vaccines based on messenger RNA technology to be developed quickly against new strains of Covid-19. An initial order has been made for 50 million doses.

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
8th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what plans his Department has to introduce statutory adoption pay for self-employed adoptive parents; and what plans he has to enable self-employed adoptive parents to receive the same benefits as other self-employed parents.

The Government recognises that it is crucial to the success of an adoption placement that an adopter takes time off work to care for and bond with their child. This is why employed adoptive parents have broadly the same rights and protections as birth parents.

So far, the Government has focused on supporting employed parents as they do not generally have the same level of flexibility over their work as self-employed parents do. But we recognise that affordability may limit the time away from work that some self-employed adopters can take, and this is why statutory adoption guidance says that Local Authorities should consider making a payment - equivalent to Maternity Allowance - in cases where adopters do not qualify for any statutory payment because of their self-employment. Prospective adopters are also entitled to an assessment of their family’s needs and can benefit from a range of support including discretionary means-tested financial support, advice, information and counselling, and support services.

We are not ruling out providing further support for self-employed parents in the future and we continue to keep differences in treatment between self-employed and employed people under review. Since 2010, we have taken significant steps to equalise the state benefits provided to the employed and self-employed, including giving the self-employed access to the full rate of the new State Pension for the first time.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
8th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what plans his Department has to extend statutory parental leave entitlements to special guardians.

The Government recognises the value of the challenging but rewarding role played by special guardians who welcome a child in their home.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is working with the Department for Education, which leads on childcare policies, to assess employment policies in this area.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
14th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what plans he has to extend the Green Homes Grants: Local Authority Delivery Scheme (LAD) after March 2021.

The Green Homes Grant, Local Authority Delivery Scheme is part of a package of measures aimed at providing an urgent stimulus to the economy. BEIS intend to allocate £200million to Local Authorities over 2 phases: phase 1A delivery by March 2021 and phase 1B for delivery by September 2021. A further £300m will be allocated to the regional Local Energy Hubs for delivery by December 2021. This aims to balance the aim of the scheme to support economic recovery whilst being pragmatic over delivery timescales.

These economic stimulus schemes are part of a longer term, sustained investment in the growth of skills and jobs to build the supply chains necessary to achieve net zero. We have recently published the Energy White Paper and we plan to publish a Heat and Building Strategy outlining our approach alongside an updated Fuel Poverty Strategy for England, that builds upon the commitments in the Prime Minister’s ten-point plan for a green industrial revolution, to extend the Energy Company Obligation and implement the Home Upgrade Grant.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
8th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking to prevent panic buying in response to the announcement of the January 2021 covid-19 lockdown in England.

We are taking all necessary precautions to protect the public, including engaging with industry and business representative organisations to ensure we are fully aware of the issues and impacts businesses are facing and how we can best provide support.

As we have seen this year, the UK has a large, diverse, and highly resilient food supply chain.

We continue to work closely with the food industry, who are well prepared to ensure people across the country have the food and supplies they need.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
7th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to prevent the closure of businesses in the hospitality industry as a result of the covid-19 tiered system of restrictions.

We are engaging regularly with the hospitality industry to understand their concerns and to help them through this difficult time. The Government has provided an unprecedented package of support for businesses in the hospitality sector. Measures include the extension of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme until March 2021, grant and loan schemes, the ability for businesses to defer VAT payments, and business rates holidays.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
3rd Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking to promote the take-up of the Green Homes Grant to improve the energy efficiency of tenants’ homes with energy ratings above E.

The Green Homes Grant Voucher scheme is open to applications from landlords to install energy efficiency and clean heat measures in their rented properties. To be eligible for the scheme, private rented properties in scope of the Domestic Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard (MEES) Regulations must have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating E or above, or hold a valid exemption. As of 07 December, 11.7% of all applications received for the Voucher scheme have been from landlords.

The £500 million Local Authority Delivery (LAD) element of the scheme will be delivered via Local Authorities and Local Energy Hubs, who have a comprehensive understanding of their local communities and as part of delivery of the scheme are undertaking extensive property assessments and householder engagement work. Together, they will identify eligible low energy efficiency properties (rated EPC D or below) and low-income households including those living in the worst quality off-gas grid homes. Under LAD, Local Authorities may upgrade their own housing stock as landlords or leaseholders and that of Social Housing providers they are partnering with, and also fund improvements to privately owned rental properties.

Furthermore, the Department is currently consulting on raising the minimum energy efficiency standards for privately rented homes in England and Wales to EPC band C. The consultation can be accessed on GOV.UK and will remain open until 30 December 2020.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
3rd Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that clinically vulnerable people cannot be required to attend work by their employers if their work can be done remotely, during the covid-19 outbreak.

Government guidance on shielding and protecting those who are clinically extremely vulnerable from COVID-19 has been updated to clearly state that this group of people are strongly advised to work from home. If they are unable to do so they should not attend work for this period of restriction. The full guidance is available on GOV.UK.

The Government’s safer working guidance makes clear what employers need to do to support clinically vulnerable and clinically extremely vulnerable workers. In all instances, employers must carry out a workplace risk assessment and take action in line with this guidance, which can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19/the-visitor-economy.

Employers who dismiss an employee because they are, or have been, self-isolating, may be liable for unfair or automatically unfair dismissal. This will depend on all the circumstances of the case. Individuals, including those of higher clinical vulnerability, or those who live with someone in that category, may have valid reasons to believe that attending work would create a serious and imminent danger to their health, or to the health of the person they live with. In such cases, it could be automatically unfair to dismiss that individual for staying at home.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
3rd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent environmental impact assessment his Department has made of the growth of the courier industry.

BEIS publishes statistics annually on UK territorial greenhouse gas emissions. Latest statistics show, total greenhouse gas emissions from road transport were estimated to be 112.9 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e) in 2018. It is not possible to separate out courier road transport emissions from other road transport emissions based on the statistics.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
29th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what proportion of staff employed by her Department are apprentices.

As of 31st January 2020, there were 150 apprentices working at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. This is 3.2% of departmental staff.

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
8th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, if he will publish the scientific and medical evidence for the decision to restrict indoor amateur choirs to six people.

I know that the restrictions on singing are frustrating to large numbers of amateur choirs and performance groups across the country and that many people have made sacrifices in order to drive down infections and protect the NHS over the last year. I can assure you that everyone across the government wants to ease these restrictions as soon as possible.

However, it is important that we take a cautious approach in easing restrictions. We have followed the views of public health experts on singing. We are aware, through the NERVTAG and PERFORM studies that singing can increase the risk of COVID-19 transmission through the spread of aerosol droplets. This was backed up by a consensus statement from SAGE, resulting in the suggested principles of safer singing being published.


We will continue to keep guidance and restrictions under review, in line with the changing situation. Further detail on step 4 will be set out as soon as possible.

18th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, if he will publish the (a) scientific and (b) medical evidential basis for the decisions to (i) ease and (ii) not ease covid-19 restrictions for (A) commercial art galleries and (B) public art galleries on 12 April 2021.

The government published the roadmap on 22 February 2021, which set out a step-by-step plan to ease restrictions in England cautiously. In advance of the publication of the roadmap, the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling, Operational sub-group (SPI-M-O) published an assessment of the evidence available on 17 February. The purpose of the report was to summarise modelling on easing restrictions for England. It can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/spi-m-o-summary-of-modelling-on-roadmap-scenarios-17-february-2021

The design of the roadmap has been informed by the latest scientific evidence and seeks a balance between our key social and economic priorities, whilst preserving the health and safety of the country. The scientific evidence shows that opening too early or too quickly risks a further lockdown.

Under the roadmap, non-essential retail, including commercial art galleries, and the outdoor elements of public art galleries in England were allowed to reopen in Step 2 on 12 April, and the indoor elements of public art galleries were allowed to reopen in Step 3 on 17 May. The distinction between the reopening dates for the outdoor elements of public art galleries and the indoor elements acknowledged the higher transmission risk posed by indoor settings.

15th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment his Department has made of the potential effect of the Discover England Fund on the competitiveness of the booking management software industry.

My Department and VisitEngland regularly assess the impact of Government funding for tourism product development in England on various aspects of the industry.

One of the core objectives of VisitEngland’s £45.5m Discover England Fund (DEF) was to ensure products were bookable online and therefore easier to access in domestic and international markets. With the number of online-bookable products in England increasing through DEF, there has been greater appreciation for the value in using a booking system to distribute and sell tourism products.

Tourism Exchange GB (TXGB) is the online digital platform created in partnership with VisitBritain/VisitEngland to help suppliers across the UK reach more consumers.

TXGB actively encourages any booking system to integrate itself within the platform, providing them with the opportunity to access new products. There are currently 83 booking systems integrated to TXGB and a pipeline of further activity to increase this number.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of permitting socially-distanced outdoor singles tennis games for under 18s to be played during the period of covid-19 restrictions announced in January 2021.

Sports and physical activity providers and facilities are at the heart of our communities, and play a crucial role in supporting adults and children to be active.

The National Restrictions are designed to get the R rate under control through limiting social contact and reducing transmissions. You can currently exercise alone, with one other person or with your household or support bubble. This should be limited to once per day, in a public outdoor place and you should not travel outside your local area. You should maintain social distancing.

On Monday 22 February, the Prime Minister announced a roadmap out of the current lockdown in England. From 8 March, sport can take place in school for all children, or as part of wraparound activities (if children are attending in order to enable their parents to work, seek work, attend education, seek medical care, or attend a support group).

Any organised outdoor sport (for children or adults) can restart on 29 March, and indoor sport for under 18s can restart from Step 2 which will take place no earlier than 12 April. This will be subject to social contact limits.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
11th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, if he will publish the scientific basis for extending the January 2021 covid-19 lockdown restrictions to horse riding lessons and activities.

Sports and physical activity are crucial for our mental and physical health and I recognise horse riding is a popular choice for many to get active.

As the Prime Minister has said, with the virus spreading faster than expected we cannot allow our health system to be overwhelmed. The current restrictions are designed to get the R rate under control through limiting social contact and reducing transmissions. In order for these measures to have the greatest impact, we all need to sacrifice doing some things that we would otherwise do, for a short period of time. These regulations were voted on by the House on 6 January. The Prime Minister is due to set out a roadmap to recovery this week.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
29th Jan 2021
To ask Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, what plans he has to provide additional financial support to cinemas at risk of permanent closure during the national covid-19 lockdown announced in January 2021.

The government recognises the significant cultural and economic value of cinemas, and has supported them through both sector-specific and economy-wide measures.

More than 200 independent cinemas have so far received funding of £16 million in the first round of the £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund. This funding is being administered by the BFI on behalf of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, as part of the biggest ever single investment in this country’s cultural sectors. Grants have been awarded to cinema sites in every corner of the country, with cinemas outside London benefitting from 78% of funding to date. Further to this, we announced in December that cinemas will be able to apply for a share of an additional £14 million in grants as part of the second round of the Culture Recovery Fund. This second round closed on 1 February, and will provide support for cinemas into the next financial year. Cinemas have also been eligible to apply to the second round of Arts Council England’s Repayable Finance scheme, with a total of £100 million available.

Recognising that cinemas need content, during this crisis the Government’s Film and TV Production Restart Scheme has helped keep the cameras rolling at the other end of the screen supply chain. The £500 million scheme, which opened for applications in October 2020, has assured over 100 productions that they will be supported if future losses are incurred due to Covid-19 and provided the confidence they need to restart filming.

In addition, most cinemas have been and are continuing to benefit from economy-wide measures including the VAT cut on tickets and concessions, a business rates holiday, access to Bounce Back Loans, the extended Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, and Local Restrictions Support Grants.

Together these measures are providing a comprehensive package of support to the cinema industry to support it through the pandemic.

8th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, if he will publish the scientific evidence that informed the decision to close outdoor swimming facilities during the January 2021 covid-19 national lockdown.

Sports and physical activity including swimming are incredibly important for our physical and mental health, and are a vital weapon against coronavirus.

The purpose of the restrictions is to reduce the time people spend outside of their homes and the number of interactions they have to an absolute minimum. The severity of the current situation means that we have been required to close all sports facilities. This is a decision that no government would want to take and we will remove the restrictions, as a priority, as soon as the public health situation allows.

The restrictions are designed to get the R rate under control through limiting social contact and reducing transmissions. All decisions made by the Government relating to the pandemic have been based on advice and guidance from health and scientific experts. These regulations were voted on by the House on 6 January.

You can continue to exercise alone, with one other person or with your household or support bubble. This should be limited to once per day, in a public outdoor place and you should not travel outside your local area. You should maintain social distancing.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
8th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, if he will publish the scientific evidence that informed the decision to close gyms during the January 2021 covid-19 national lockdown.

Sports and physical activity are incredibly important for our physical and mental health, and are a vital weapon against coronavirus.

On Monday 4 January the Prime Minister announced a national lockdown and instructed people to stay at home to control the virus, protect the NHS and save lives. The National Restrictions are designed to get the R rate under control through limiting social contact and reducing transmissions. All decisions made by the Government relating to the pandemic and sport have been based on advice and guidance from health and scientific experts.

You can continue to exercise alone, with one other person or with your household or support bubble. This should be limited to once per day, and you should not travel outside your local area. You should maintain social distancing. Indoor and outdoor sports facilities, including gyms, must close. These regulations were voted on by the House on 6 January.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
8th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, if he will publish the scientific advice for the decision to extend the national restrictions commencing on 5 January 2021 to outdoor tennis facilities.

The purpose of the restrictions is to reduce the time people spend outside of their homes and the number of interactions they have to an absolute minimum. The severity of the current situation means that we have been required to close all sports facilities. This is a decision that no government would want to take and we will remove the restrictions, as a priority, as soon as the public health situation allows.

The restrictions are designed to get the R rate under control through limiting social contact and reducing transmissions. All decisions made by the Government relating to the pandemic have been based on advice and guidance from health and scientific experts. These regulations were voted on by the House on 6 January.

You can continue to exercise alone, with one other person or with your household or support bubble. This should be limited to once per day, in a public outdoor place and you should not travel outside your local area. You should maintain social distancing.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
17th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps he is taking to help arts and culture venues ensure their premises are covid-19 secure; and whether his Department has made an assessment of the potential merits of providing grant funding to those sectors.

DCMS has produced and regularly updates the Performing Arts Guidance to help performing arts organisations, venue operators and participants understand how to make their workplace COVID-Secure so that they can work and take part in the performing arts safely when and where permitted. The guidance applies to both professional and non-professional activity. This includes general guidance for rehearsals, training and pre-production. It also includes advice for managing audience and performances including staging and capacity, social distancing and the Rule of 6, ticketing and payments, cloakrooms, managing people flow, staging arrival times and seating arrangements, ventilation, wearing of face masks and carrying out risk assessments.


DCMS has also convened a Venues Steering Group which includes representatives from leading sector organisations as well as Public Health England and other experts to develop an action plan for maximizing activity under Stage 4 and for how we safely proceed to stage 5 with fuller audiences.

The Government’s unprecedented £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund has now surpassed the £1 billion milestone. Over £500million in recovery grants have been made to almost 3000 arts and heritage organisations in England helping to support 75,000 jobs and over £100million in capital grants.Organisations receiving grants from the CRF include Shakespeare’s Globe, Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club, The Old Vic, Manchester Royal Exchange and Opera North.

Additionally, a second round of funding was announced on 11 December, which utilises the remaining Culture Recovery Fund funding. There will be over £300m available in grants delivered by DCMS’ delivery partners, and £100m of repayable finance delivered by Arts Council England specifically.

17th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent estimate he has made of the financial contribution of the arts and culture to London’s wider economy; and what steps his Department is taking to mitigate the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on those sectors in London.

The most recent data available from the DCMS Provisional Sector Economic Estimates relating to 2018 shows that the Cultural Sector in London contributed £23,111m GVA, of which the London Arts Sub-Sector contributed £4,525m

The Government’s unprecedented £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund has now surpassed the £1 billion milestone. Over £500million in recovery grants have been made to over 3000 arts and heritage organisations in England helping to support 75,000 jobs with over £300m awarded to London through grants and repayable finance awards.

17th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps his Department is taking to support the recovery of (a) theatres (b) the exhibitions sector and (c) live industries in London ahead of the summer 2021 season; and if he will make a statement.

We are aware that COVID-19 and related restrictions have severely impacted these sectors and their supply chains. We continue to engage with stakeholders through the Tourism Industry Council, the Events Industry Senior Leaders Panel and the Venues Steering Group. These groups include representatives from leading sector organisations and other experts to develop action plans for how we can best support the sector’s safe reopening.

Theatre, the exhibitions sector and live music and festivals have been eligible to access Government COVID-19 support. This includes various government-backed loans, business grants, reduction in VAT and the extended furlough and self-employed support schemes. The recently announced discretionary Local Restrictions Support Grant and Additional Restrictions Grant provides Local Authorities with funds to support businesses who meet the eligibility criteria in the guidance here, https://www.gov.uk/guidance/check-if-youre-eligible-for-the-coronavirus-local-restrictions-support-grant-for-closed-businesses And on 5th January the Chancellor announced one-off top up grants for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses worth up to £9,000 per property to help businesses through to the Spring.

Theatres and live music have also benefited from the Cultural Recovery Fund. As of 11 December, £1 billion worth of funding from the Culture Recovery Fund has been allocated across all four nations of the UK. In England CRF funding has benefited over 3,000 organisations, with over £300m awarded to London through grants and repayable finance awards.

15th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps the Government is taking to help improve disabled access at theme parks and leisure venues.

My Department and VisitEngland, the national tourist board, have taken a number of steps to improve accessibility within the tourism sector.

VisitEngland has a dedicated web portal providing tailored business advice to tourism businesses, including guidance on how to welcome guests with different access needs.

VisitEngland has also made sure that its promotional and marketing activities are inclusive. For example, its Escape the Everyday campaign worked in partnership with Channel 4 to launch the Mission: Accessible series, which highlights the perspective of visitors with access needs enjoying the tourism landscape.

And at the Budget last year, the Chancellor announced a £30m Changing Places Fund to increase the provision of Changing Places toilets in public buildings, including leisure buildings and theme parks.

The Tourism Sector Deal, published in June 2019, set out an ambition to make the UK the most accessible destination in Europe by 2025.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
2nd Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment he has made of the potential effect of sports facility closures during the latest covid-19 restrictions on the (a) physical and (b) mental health of the population.

Sport and physical activity are incredibly important for our physical and mental health, and are a vital weapon against coronavirus.

Nobody wanted to be in the position of having to introduce further national restrictions. However as the Prime Minister said, with the virus spreading faster than expected we cannot allow our health system to be overwhelmed. Therefore, from Thursday 5 November until Wednesday 2 December indoor and outdoor leisure will need to close. The national restrictions are designed to get the R rate under control through limiting social contact and reducing transmissions.

In order for these measures to have the greatest impact, we will all need to sacrifice doing some things that we would otherwise like to do, for a short period of time. As soon as we're in a position to start lifting restrictions, grassroots sports will be one of the first to return.

During this period, people are still allowed to leave their homes for exercise and recreation outdoors, with their household, on their own, or with one person from another household or support bubble.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
2nd Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, if he will publish the scientific advice on which the decision to extend the latest covid-19 restrictions to outdoor swimming facilities is based.

We recognise the importance of opening our indoor and outdoor pools and we agree that swimming is a great way for people of all ages to stay fit and healthy.

Nobody wanted to be in the position of having to introduce further National Restrictions. However as the Prime Minister said, with the virus spreading faster than expected we cannot allow our health system to be overwhelmed. Therefore, from Thursday 5 November until Wednesday 2 December indoor and outdoor leisure will need to close. The national restrictions are designed to get the R rate under control through limiting social contact and reducing transmissions.

In order for these measures to have the greatest impact, we will all need to sacrifice doing some things that we would otherwise like to do, for a short period of time. As soon as we're in a position to start lifting restrictions, grassroots sports will be one of the first to return.

People are still allowed to leave their homes for exercise and recreation outdoors, with your household or on your own, or with one person from another household or support bubble.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
17th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, whether soft play centres will be allowed to re-open from 25 July 2020 as part of the easing of covid-19 lockdown restrictions.

No. As the Prime Minister stated last week, indoor soft play and indoor play centres unfortunately remain closed. We are, however, in discussions about a timeline for reopening the sector. We have also been working with BALPPA, the trade body that represents the industry.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
2nd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, pursuant to the Answer of 12 February 2020 to Question 15107 on Social Media: Advertising, what recent discussions his Department has had with the Advertising Standards Authority on including all injectable cosmetic treatments in its guidance.

DCMS has had no recent discussions with the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) on including all injectable cosmetic treatments in its guidance.

The ASA seeks to ensure that action is targeted where it is needed, and it has published guidance outlining its evidence-based approach to policy-making: https://www.asa.org.uk/resource/evidence-based-policy-making.html

Noting this, it is already active in the regulation of the advertising of injectable cosmetic treatments, specifically botulinum toxin injections which, as a prescription-only medicine, are prohibited from being advertised to the public by the CAP Code and the Human Medicines Regulations 2012.

The ASA’s regulatory system operates independently of government, but where relevant government departments or other regulators identify - independently of the ASA - harm or detriment arising from the advertising of specific products or services, there is opportunity to work with the ASA to address this.

27th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent discussions his Department has had with (a) Premiership Rugby Limited and (b) the Rugby Football Union on the governance of rugby clubs.

The stewardship of rugby union in England is the responsibility of the Rugby Football Union, as the National Governing Body for the sport. The Government expects good governance from all our sports bodies, as set out in the sports governance code. Government ministers and officials have regular meetings with sports governing bodies to discuss a wide range of issues, including the stewardship of their sport.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
27th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent assessment his Department has made of the effectiveness of age restrictions on the sale of video games.

The Video Standards Council (VSC) applies the independently determined Pan-European Games Information (PEGI) classification system on behalf of industry in order to provide objectivity and consistency in video games age ratings. The VSC’s classification work is reviewed by Government as part of the assessment of their Annual Report.

We are in frequent dialogue with the VSC about their work and on how we can ensure that children are better protected from inappropriate content. This includes working with them on a call to industry to adopt PEGI ratings for every online game.

The government also continues to work with industry and the age ratings bodies to help consumers learn about parental controls available on devices, including through initiatives such as AskAboutGames and PEGI advice about safe gaming.

27th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what plans he has to bring forward legislative proposals to introduce sanctions for video game manufacturers that do not take reasonable steps to limit the exposure of children to age inappropriate content.

The Video Standards Council (VSC) applies the independently determined Pan-European Games Information (PEGI) classification system on behalf of industry in order to provide objectivity and consistency in video games age ratings. The VSC’s classification work is reviewed by Government as part of the assessment of their Annual Report.

We are in frequent dialogue with the VSC about their work and on how we can ensure that children are better protected from inappropriate content. This includes working with them on a call to industry to adopt PEGI ratings for every online game.

The government also continues to work with industry and the age ratings bodies to help consumers learn about parental controls available on devices, including through initiatives such as AskAboutGames and PEGI advice about safe gaming.

13th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what plans he has to bring forward legislative proposals to sanction search engine companies that do not remove websites that promote suicide.

The Government published the initial response to the Online Harms White Paper consultation on 12 February 2020. This confirmed that the Government is developing legislation on online harms to establish a new duty of care on companies towards their users, overseen by an independent regulator. Companies in scope will not be required to remove specific items of legal content; however, they will be required to put in place systems and processes to deal with harmful content, and in particular, to minimise the risk of young people and vulnerable users encountering harm online.

The duty of care will apply to companies that provide services which facilitate the sharing of user generated content or user interactions. Requirements will differ according to the service offered and will be proportionate to the size and capabilities of the platform, alongside the risk to users on each platform. Final details regarding companies and services in scope will be published in the full Government response later this year.

To ensure compliance, the regulator will have the power to issue warnings, notices and fines. We are considering the responses to the consultation on senior management liability and business disruption measures, such as ISP blocking, and will set out our final policy position in the full Government response.

13th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent steps her Department has taken to (a) remove and (b) limit access by young people to websites which promote suicide.

The government is committed to making the UK the safest place in the world to go online. We are developing world-leading laws to introduce a new duty of care on online companies towards their users. The duty of care will be overseen by an independent regulator who will set clear standards and have strong enforcement powers to deal with non-compliance.


Government has also formed a partnership of suicide prevention experts funded by social media companies to support people and improve research. This work will create an evidence base around suicide and self-harm content online and produce best practice guidelines and standards for industry on how to respond to harmful content online.

12th Feb 2020
To ask the Minister of State, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what plans he has to bring forward legislation to hold to account the management of social media companies that do not take reasonable steps to identify and respond to child abuse on their platforms.

In the Queen’s speech on December 19 2019, the Government confirmed plans to develop legislation to improve internet safety. This is a complex and difficult task and we are working hard to get the proposals right. DCMS and the Home Office are working at pace to commence the legislative process and introduce a Bill once Parliamentary time allows.

12th Feb 2020
To ask the Minister of State, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment his Department has made of the dangers of advertising cosmetic procedures on social media.

Advertising in the UK is overseen by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), the industry’s independent regulator, which for online advertising enforces the Code of Non-broadcast Advertising and Direct & Promotional Marketing (CAP Code) through a system of self-regulation. The CAP Code incorporates all relevant legislation and sets standards for accuracy and honesty to which advertisers must adhere, including specific conditions on advertising to children, causing offence and social responsibility. This system operates independently of government.

The ASA has published guidance to advertisers on how it would be likely to interpret the CAP Code when considering complaints relating to adverts promoting cosmetic procedures. This guidance stresses the burden of social responsibility that the Code places on advertisers, including the importance of avoiding trivialising the advertised procedures, exploiting insecurities, employing exaggerated or unrealistic claims, and targeting vulnerable groups.

Separately to this, the government is reviewing how online advertising is regulated in the UK, looking at how well the current regime is equipped to tackle the challenges posed by developments in online advertising. Although this work will not directly address issues relating to specific rules or sectors, it will consider cross-cutting challenges with potential to impact the wider market. A call for evidence on online advertising was published last month.

11th Feb 2020
To ask the Minister of State, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, whether his Department monitors the cash held by its subsidiaries in offshore bank accounts; and how frequently those subsidiaries report those balances to his Department.

DCMS monitors the commercial bank balances of its Arm’s-Length Bodies (ALBs) held outside of the Government Banking Service (GBS) via quarterly returns and this is reported to HM Treasury. The returns include any cash held in offshore accounts.

22nd Jan 2020
To ask the Minister of State, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment she has made of the level of (a) harassment and (b) discrimination in the music sector.

No such assessment has been undertaken. This government believes that harassment and discrimination are unacceptable - whether in the music industry or any other sector. Everyone has the right to feel safe at work and people can only thrive when they operate in a respectful and tolerant environment so that they can make the most of their talents.

We welcome the work undertaken by the Incorporated Society of Musicians, the Musicians Union and others within the sector to help address this issue through offering support, guidance and monitoring.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Minister without Portfolio)
18th Aug 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many looked after children local authorities reported as being placed outside of (a) their local authority area, (b) England and (c) the UK in (i) the year January 2019 to December 2019 inclusive and (ii) each of the last five annual reporting periods for which data is available.

The latest figures on children looked after by the locality of the placement are shown in the attached table. The children looked after collection (SSDA903 return) collects information about children who are looked after by local authorities from 1 April to 31 March, and these are the time periods presented in the table.

A range of figures on children looked after by placement location in a different format to that provided in the table are published in the table ‘National – Children looked after by placement type, distance and the locality of placement’ in the annual statistical release at: https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/find-statistics/children-looked-after-in-england-including-adoptions/2020.

The statistics on children looked after in 2020/21 will be released in November 2021 (provisional). The exact date of publication will be announced here: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/announcements/looked-after-children-in-england-year-ending-31-march-2021.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
18th Aug 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether his Department plans to issue guidance to schools on ensuring uniform procurement is consistent with Government policy on maintaining (a) environmental and (b) labour standards.

The Department does not collect detailed information on individual school uniform policies. The 2015 cost of school uniform report, commissioned by the Department, found that 99% of parents involved in the survey reported that their child’s school required children to wear a school uniform. This survey did not include responses from parents whose child attended a private or independent school.

Throughout the passage of the Education (Guidance about Costs of School Uniforms) Act 2021, the Department has engaged with a range of different stakeholders who have all advocated the benefits of correctly implementing a school uniform. The Department strongly encourages schools to have a uniform as it can play a key role in promoting the ethos of a school, providing a sense of belonging and identity and setting an appropriate tone for education.

As the Act, and the required statutory guidance, is limited to the cost aspect of school uniform, it is ultimately for the governing body of a school (or the academy trust, in the case of academies) to decide how their uniform should be sourced. The guidance will make clear that schools should give high priority to cost considerations and value for money, which does not prevent them from taking into account other issues which are important to them, including sustainability and fair labour standards. Within the statutory guidance, the Department intends to outline the expectation that all schools should make second hand uniform available for all parents to acquire. Not only will this help parents to manage the cost of school uniform, but by extending the life cycle of garments, this will prove more sustainable.

18th Aug 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether his Department has made an assessment of the correlation between the wearing of school uniform and standards of behaviour.

The Department does not collect detailed information on individual school uniform policies. The 2015 cost of school uniform report, commissioned by the Department, found that 99% of parents involved in the survey reported that their child’s school required children to wear a school uniform. This survey did not include responses from parents whose child attended a private or independent school.

Throughout the passage of the Education (Guidance about Costs of School Uniforms) Act 2021, the Department has engaged with a range of different stakeholders who have all advocated the benefits of correctly implementing a school uniform. The Department strongly encourages schools to have a uniform as it can play a key role in promoting the ethos of a school, providing a sense of belonging and identity and setting an appropriate tone for education.

As the Act, and the required statutory guidance, is limited to the cost aspect of school uniform, it is ultimately for the governing body of a school (or the academy trust, in the case of academies) to decide how their uniform should be sourced. The guidance will make clear that schools should give high priority to cost considerations and value for money, which does not prevent them from taking into account other issues which are important to them, including sustainability and fair labour standards. Within the statutory guidance, the Department intends to outline the expectation that all schools should make second hand uniform available for all parents to acquire. Not only will this help parents to manage the cost of school uniform, but by extending the life cycle of garments, this will prove more sustainable.

18th Aug 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many and what proportion of children in (a) state and b) private schools in England are required to wear school uniforms.

The Department does not collect detailed information on individual school uniform policies. The 2015 cost of school uniform report, commissioned by the Department, found that 99% of parents involved in the survey reported that their child’s school required children to wear a school uniform. This survey did not include responses from parents whose child attended a private or independent school.

Throughout the passage of the Education (Guidance about Costs of School Uniforms) Act 2021, the Department has engaged with a range of different stakeholders who have all advocated the benefits of correctly implementing a school uniform. The Department strongly encourages schools to have a uniform as it can play a key role in promoting the ethos of a school, providing a sense of belonging and identity and setting an appropriate tone for education.

As the Act, and the required statutory guidance, is limited to the cost aspect of school uniform, it is ultimately for the governing body of a school (or the academy trust, in the case of academies) to decide how their uniform should be sourced. The guidance will make clear that schools should give high priority to cost considerations and value for money, which does not prevent them from taking into account other issues which are important to them, including sustainability and fair labour standards. Within the statutory guidance, the Department intends to outline the expectation that all schools should make second hand uniform available for all parents to acquire. Not only will this help parents to manage the cost of school uniform, but by extending the life cycle of garments, this will prove more sustainable.

18th Aug 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what processes his Department has in place to record the outcomes of placements of looked after children from England who are placed in (a) other nations of the UK and (b) overseas.

Where the local authorities are placing a young person out of area, there are clear statutory requirements in place to safeguard young people. These require the placing authority to inform the host authority before confirming the placement and to check whether the host authority is aware of any concerns about the setting. The statutory responsibilities for looked after children remain with the placing local authority and Directors of Children’s Services who must approve all distant placements.

Statistically, the department collects data on placement type, reason for placement change and three separate pieces of information in relation to the locality of placements. The location data includes:

  • information about the distance the child is placed away from their home postcode
  • whether the placement is located inside or outside their responsible local authority
  • the country of the placement (England, UK or otherwise).

Figures on placements, distance from the home placement and the location of the placement, inside or outside the council boundary, were published in the underlying data ‘National - children looked after at 31 March by placement type, distance of placement and locality of placement’ of the statistical release ‘Children looked after in England including adoption: 2019 to 2020’ at: https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/find-statistics/children-looked-after-in-england-including-adoptions/2020.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
21st Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to (a) support parents who have to stay at home as a result of their children being required to self-isolate and (b) limit the disruption to the education of children who are required to self-isolate as a result of covid-19.

Since 16 August, pupils under the age of 18 years old have no longer been required to self-isolate if they are a close contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. Instead, pupils identified as a close contact will be given age appropriate testing advice. They will not need to self-isolate while they wait for the result of any tests. If the result is positive, they should self-isolate in line with the guidance. Information on financial support can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/test-and-trace-support-payment-scheme-claiming-financial-support/claiming-financial-support-under-the-test-and-trace-support-payment-scheme.

Since June 2020, the Department has announced more than £3 billion to support education recovery for children and young people in nurseries, schools and colleges. Recovery programmes, as well as targeted help with provision of laptops and internet access, have been designed to allow head teachers the flexibility to support those pupils most in need to help them catch up after a period of disruption to their education or during periods of self-isolation.

The Department recognises that COVID-19 may cause further disruption in the 2021/22 academic year. We have issued a new temporary remote education continuity direction for academic year 2021/22, to provide clarity about what is expected and ensuring consistency with the last academic year, which is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/remote-education-temporary-continuity-direction-explanatory-note. Schools affected by the temporary continuity direction must provide remote education for state-funded, school-aged pupils whose attendance would be contrary to local public health advice, Government guidance or law relating to COVID-19. Schools must adhere to the expectations for remote education published here: https://get-help-with-remote-education.education.gov.uk/statutory-obligations.

Where required, schools are expected to offer pupils 3 to 5 hours of remote education per day, depending on Key Stage. This includes recorded or live direct teaching alongside time for pupils to work independently to complete assignments that have been set.

A comprehensive package of support continues to be available to schools to help them meet the remote education expectations: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/get-help-with-remote-education. The Department understands that this is a challenging time for parents, carers and children. We have published information for parents and carers on remote education and how they can best support their child while studying from home, where this is needed. This can be found at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/supporting-your-childrens-education-during-coronavirus-covid-19. This includes resources and advice to help parents and carers on how to establish a routine with their child, and how best to support mental health and wellbeing during this period.

21st Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, when he plans to publish the SEND Review.

The Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) Review has been making good progress, but the COVID-19 outbreak has materially altered the context for reform.

The SEND Review continues to work with system experts to make sure we are designing a SEND system fit for the future. We are drawing on the best evidence available to review the system, before publishing proposals for public consultation as soon as possible.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
21st Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to introduce an alternative funding system for students who are prohibited from taking out interest-based loans.

I refer the hon. Member for Hampstead and Kilburn to the answer I gave on 21 July 2021 to Question 34011.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Department for Education) (Higher and Further Education)
20th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what guidance his Department plans to issue to early years providers on the covid-19 self-isolation rules that apply before the 16 August 2021 in the context that the requirement to keep school-aged children in self-contained bubbles will end at the beginning of the 2021 summer holidays.

Firstly, I would like to offer my thanks to all early years providers for their support in the national effort to isolate, track and manage the spread of the virus.

Since 19 July 2021, we have not asked early years settings to keep children in consistent groups (‘bubbles’) or to reduce mixing between groups. Updated guidance was issued to the sector on 6 July which included a Frequently Asked Questions document and a process map explaining the changes to contact tracing and self-isolation.

Additionally, early years settings are no longer asked to undertake routine contact tracing as NHS Test and Trace are now taking a more active role in notifying close contacts.

Until 16 August, anyone identified as a close contact of a positive COVID-19 case should continue to self-isolate. From 16 August, fully vaccinated individuals will not have to self-isolate at the point they are identified as a close contact of a positive case. This will also apply to anyone under 18 who is identified as a close contact.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
20th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to support nurseries and other childcare providers to cope with the (a) practical and (b) financial effects of high levels of staff self-isolation during the covid-19 outbreak.

We have provided unprecedented support to early years providers during the COVID-19 outbreak and settings have also had access to a range of business support packages, including the extended Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. As long as the staff in the nursery schools affected meet the criteria for the scheme, then early years providers are still able to furlough their staff while that scheme remains in operation, for example, if settings have to close temporarily to manage local effects of COVID-19, such as infections. Findings from the Childcare and Early Years Provider and Coronavirus survey have shown that in November/December 2020, 74% of group-based providers have made use of the Furlough Scheme at any point. Findings of this survey can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/survey-of-childcare-and-early-years-providers-and-coronavirus-covid-19-wave-3.

Eligible nurseries may also have qualified for a Business Rates discount to help reduce the costs of their business rates bills during the COVID-19 outbreak. Eligible Nurseries could get 100% off in the first 3 months of the 2021-22 tax year with 66% off for the rest of the 2021-22 tax year which may help providers who have had a reduced income as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Additionally, eligible nurseries have been able to access recovery loans to help with access to loans and other types of finance, so that they can recover after the outbreak and transition period.

We liaise regularly with local authorities, and they have not reported to us a significant number of parents unable to secure a childcare place, either during this term or at any time since early years settings re-opened fully on 1 June 2020. Where parents have been unable to temporarily secure a childcare place, for example due to their usual setting being temporarily closed due to COVID-19, this has been able to be quickly resolved locally and local authorities are not reporting significant sufficiency of supply issues.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
20th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will publish the evidence for excluding early years staff from the list of key workers exempt from covid-19 self-isolation rules ahead of the changes proposed for 16 August 2021.

A very limited number of named critical workers will be informed that they are considered to have a reasonable excuse to leave self-isolation to attend work if they are contacts. This scheme will only apply to workers who are fully vaccinated (defined as someone who is 14 days post-second dose) and is solely for the purpose of going to work. The education and childcare workforce are not included in this scheme.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
12th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to his Department’s announcement in March 2020 that the national standards for the provision of children’s advocacy services would be revised, when he plans for the public consultation on those revisions to be launched.

The government is committed to ensuring that advocacy services are improved for looked-after children and care leavers.

The commitment to consulting on a revised and fully updated version of the National Standards for the Provision of Children’s Advocacy Services is being taken forward and we intend to launch the consultation in due course.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
23rd Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many (a) mergers and (b) acquisitions have there been in the early years sector in each month since March 2020; and how many childcare providers on the early years register have those mergers and acquisitions involved.

The Department for Education does not hold the information requested.

Ofsted holds the Early Years Register and publishes data on joiners and leavers to that register on a monthly basis. Ofsted does not collect or publish information on the reasons given by early years providers for leaving the Early Years Register. The data on joiners and leavers is available to view here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/joiners-and-leavers-in-the-childcare-sector.

According to Ofsted, providers can leave the Early Years register for a range of reasons. In the case of some mergers or acquisitions, nurseries may have to re-register with Ofsted.

The department is in regular contact with local authorities and the early years sector about the supply and demand of childcare in local areas. We will continue to monitor the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on the early years sector.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
8th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will publish guidance on summer activities at least a week in advance of 21 June 2021 regardless of whether or not the next stage of easing covid-19 restrictions in England takes place on that date.

The Department recognises the significant benefits that summer camps and other forms of education outside the classroom can have on children’s academic development as well as their mental health and wellbeing.

Since 17 May 2021, out-of-school settings, such as those offering residential summer camps, have been able to undertake overnight stays with children, in groups of six or two households (including at least one member of staff). From 21 June, out-of-school settings will be able to undertake residential visits and overnight stays can take place with groups of up to 30 children. The Department has provided updated guidance on protective measures for holiday or after school clubs and other out-of-school settings for children during the COVID-19 outbreak, which sets out how out-of-school settings can conduct residential visits safely.

Throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, the Government has followed the advice of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies and its sub-groups when taking decisions on the best way to handle the COVID-19 outbreak. As new evidence or data emerges, the Government will act accordingly to ensure that all out-of-school settings have the right safety measures in place, and that measures remain proportionate to the threat posed by COVID-19. The advice on residential visits will therefore be reviewed again in advance of Step 4 of the roadmap.

The Department is also working closely with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and the National Youth Agency to ensure the Government has full awareness of the effect the COVID-19 outbreak has had on the youth sector. In response to youth sector engagement, dedicated youth sector COVID-19 guidance has been developed by the National Youth Agency in collaboration with DCMS, the Department, youth sector organisations and public health experts.

8th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he has taken to engage with the youth sector on the covid-19 rules for summer camps for children; and what steps can be taken to make summer camps covid-safe.

The Department recognises the significant benefits that summer camps and other forms of education outside the classroom can have on children’s academic development as well as their mental health and wellbeing.

Since 17 May 2021, out-of-school settings, such as those offering residential summer camps, have been able to undertake overnight stays with children, in groups of six or two households (including at least one member of staff). From 21 June, out-of-school settings will be able to undertake residential visits and overnight stays can take place with groups of up to 30 children. The Department has provided updated guidance on protective measures for holiday or after school clubs and other out-of-school settings for children during the COVID-19 outbreak, which sets out how out-of-school settings can conduct residential visits safely.

Throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, the Government has followed the advice of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies and its sub-groups when taking decisions on the best way to handle the COVID-19 outbreak. As new evidence or data emerges, the Government will act accordingly to ensure that all out-of-school settings have the right safety measures in place, and that measures remain proportionate to the threat posed by COVID-19. The advice on residential visits will therefore be reviewed again in advance of Step 4 of the roadmap.

The Department is also working closely with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and the National Youth Agency to ensure the Government has full awareness of the effect the COVID-19 outbreak has had on the youth sector. In response to youth sector engagement, dedicated youth sector COVID-19 guidance has been developed by the National Youth Agency in collaboration with DCMS, the Department, youth sector organisations and public health experts.

8th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what the evidential basis is for the decision to allow non-residential summer camps where children return home between sessions to take place rather than covid-19 secure residential summer camps of more than 30 children.

The Department recognises the significant benefits that summer camps and other forms of education outside the classroom can have on children’s academic development as well as their mental health and wellbeing.

Since 17 May 2021, out-of-school settings, such as those offering residential summer camps, have been able to undertake overnight stays with children, in groups of six or two households (including at least one member of staff). From 21 June, out-of-school settings will be able to undertake residential visits and overnight stays can take place with groups of up to 30 children. The Department has provided updated guidance on protective measures for holiday or after school clubs and other out-of-school settings for children during the COVID-19 outbreak, which sets out how out-of-school settings can conduct residential visits safely.

Throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, the Government has followed the advice of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies and its sub-groups when taking decisions on the best way to handle the COVID-19 outbreak. As new evidence or data emerges, the Government will act accordingly to ensure that all out-of-school settings have the right safety measures in place, and that measures remain proportionate to the threat posed by COVID-19. The advice on residential visits will therefore be reviewed again in advance of Step 4 of the roadmap.

The Department is also working closely with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and the National Youth Agency to ensure the Government has full awareness of the effect the COVID-19 outbreak has had on the youth sector. In response to youth sector engagement, dedicated youth sector COVID-19 guidance has been developed by the National Youth Agency in collaboration with DCMS, the Department, youth sector organisations and public health experts.

8th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what the scientific basis is for not permitting large residential summer camps for children where covid-19 social distancing measures, including pre-quarantine, are in place.

The Department recognises the significant benefits that summer camps and other forms of education outside the classroom can have on children’s academic development as well as their mental health and wellbeing.

Since 17 May 2021, out-of-school settings, such as those offering residential summer camps, have been able to undertake overnight stays with children, in groups of six or two households (including at least one member of staff). From 21 June, out-of-school settings will be able to undertake residential visits and overnight stays can take place with groups of up to 30 children. The Department has provided updated guidance on protective measures for holiday or after school clubs and other out-of-school settings for children during the COVID-19 outbreak, which sets out how out-of-school settings can conduct residential visits safely.

Throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, the Government has followed the advice of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies and its sub-groups when taking decisions on the best way to handle the COVID-19 outbreak. As new evidence or data emerges, the Government will act accordingly to ensure that all out-of-school settings have the right safety measures in place, and that measures remain proportionate to the threat posed by COVID-19. The advice on residential visits will therefore be reviewed again in advance of Step 4 of the roadmap.

The Department is also working closely with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and the National Youth Agency to ensure the Government has full awareness of the effect the COVID-19 outbreak has had on the youth sector. In response to youth sector engagement, dedicated youth sector COVID-19 guidance has been developed by the National Youth Agency in collaboration with DCMS, the Department, youth sector organisations and public health experts.

8th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, when his Department plans to issue covid-19 social distancing guidance for youth groups organising summer activities; what criteria the Government is using to determine that guidance; and which organisations the Government is consulting on that guidance.

The Department recognises the significant benefits that summer camps and other forms of education outside the classroom can have on children’s academic development as well as their mental health and wellbeing.

Since 17 May 2021, out-of-school settings, such as those offering residential summer camps, have been able to undertake overnight stays with children, in groups of six or two households (including at least one member of staff). From 21 June, out-of-school settings will be able to undertake residential visits and overnight stays can take place with groups of up to 30 children. The Department has provided updated guidance on protective measures for holiday or after school clubs and other out-of-school settings for children during the COVID-19 outbreak, which sets out how out-of-school settings can conduct residential visits safely.

Throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, the Government has followed the advice of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies and its sub-groups when taking decisions on the best way to handle the COVID-19 outbreak. As new evidence or data emerges, the Government will act accordingly to ensure that all out-of-school settings have the right safety measures in place, and that measures remain proportionate to the threat posed by COVID-19. The advice on residential visits will therefore be reviewed again in advance of Step 4 of the roadmap.

The Department is also working closely with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and the National Youth Agency to ensure the Government has full awareness of the effect the COVID-19 outbreak has had on the youth sector. In response to youth sector engagement, dedicated youth sector COVID-19 guidance has been developed by the National Youth Agency in collaboration with DCMS, the Department, youth sector organisations and public health experts.

18th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will publish the (a) scientific and (b) medical evidential basis for the decision to restrict face-to-face teaching in universities until 17 May 2021.

We have worked extremely closely with scientists and the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) to understand and model various scenarios to inform our plan to re-open the country without putting unsustainable pressure on the NHS. We have also examined economic and social data to get a balanced understanding of the impacts of carefully easing restrictions. The government has also carefully considered data on the impact of COVID-19 and lockdown on ethnic minority communities, the vulnerable, the young, and low-income groups.

The government considered all the scientific advice and models that suggested that allowing additional indoor mixing at an earlier stage when prevalence was higher and fewer people had been vaccinated could result in significantly higher numbers of infections and that is why restrictions outdoors were eased before restrictions on most indoor activity. As the number of people vaccinated increased, we have been able to take steps to ease restrictions further.

A wealth of data, papers and evidence is being published at the same time as the roadmap, to ensure transparency on the information the government has had available to it in reaching its decisions. This includes the following information from Public Health England:

  • Information on vaccine effectiveness of the Pfizer vaccination
  • A surveillance report with a more detailed summary of the findings so far from Sarscov2 Immunity and Reinfection Evaluation (SIREN) and Severe Acute Respiratory Infections (SARI)-Watch.
  • A technical paper on the SIREN analysis being published (as a pre-print) by the Lancet.

The papers from SAGE include:

  • Minutes from the last 4 SAGE meetings.
  • Children’s Task and Finish Group paper: ‘COVID-19 in higher education settings’, 10 February 2021.
  • 3 papers from Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (SPI-M) with a summary of modelling on scenarios for easing restrictions, together with the supporting papers from modellers at Warwick University and Imperial College London.
  • A collection of papers from SPI-M on “relaxation of non-pharmaceutical interventions and the re-opening of schools”, and the Scientific Pandemic Insights Group on Behaviours (SPI-B) (the behavioural experts’ sub-group of SAGE) on return to campus for the spring term and the risk of increased transmission from student migration

The return of students was not considered in isolation but as part of the government’s overall roadmap. All areas included in the roadmap (as well as higher education) are informed by advice from the scientific and medical experts. Additional papers published by SAGE in relation to Step 3 of the roadmap can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/sage-meetings-may-2021.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Department for Education) (Higher and Further Education)
13th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that social care and support for disabled children and their families is included in the (a) the SEND review and (b) Independent Review of Children’s Social Care.

Both Reviews are taking a holistic response to the issues that these 2 systems face.

The Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) Review has listened carefully to children, young people, families and partners across education, health and care, and will be publishing proposals for consultation focused on identifying and addressing issues earlier and preparing for fulfilled adulthood through every stage. These measures will not only improve children and young people’s outcomes, and put them and their families at the heart of the SEND system, but they should deliver a SEND system fit for the future – high quality support, delivered affordably, and sustainable for the long term.

The Care Review is independent of the government with freedom to make recommendations based on the Reviewer’s findings. The scope is broad and will look at the whole system of support, safeguarding, protection and care, and the child’s journey into and out of that system. This will include children throughout their interaction with children’s social care, from referral, Child in Need and Child Protection Plans, through to becoming Looked After. The review terms of reference set out the questions and themes the review will consider. The terms of reference can be found here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/952624/terms_of_reference_independent_childrens_social_care_review.pdf.

Almost half of children in need within the children’s social care system are children with SEND, so there is a significant overlap between these Reviews, but there will be opportunities for the 2 reviews to feed into each other’s work.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
13th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what the average early years funding rate given to local authorities in England was for (a) two year olds and (b) three and four year olds in (i) 2017-18, (ii) 2018-19, (iii) 2019-20, (iv) 2020-21 and (v) 2021-22.

The table below shows the average early years hourly funding rate for 2 and 3 to 4 year olds.

2017-18

2018-19

2019-20

2020-21

2021-22

2 year old average hourly funding rate

£5.40

£5.40

£5.40

£5.48

£5.56

3 to 4 year old average hourly funding rate

£4.76

£4.75

£4.75

£4.83

4.88*

*The vast majority of local authorities have seen an increase in their 3 to 4 year old average hourly funding rate of 6p an hour in 2021-22. Due to rounding, this is represented by an increase from £4.83 to £4.88 in the overall national average.

Calculations for the 3 to 4 year old hourly funding rate exclude supplementary funding for maintained nursery schools, the disability access fund and the early years pupil premium. The 3 to 4 year old hourly funding rate is an average across both universal hours and additional hours entitlements. The average for the 3 to 4 year old hourly funding rate in 2017-18 has been adjusted to reflect the fact that the additional hours entitlement was introduced in September 2017.

For 2020-21 and 2021-22 the average hourly funding rates are provisional and will depend on future attendance.

Average rates can be calculated from dedicated schools grant tables which can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/dedicated-schools-grant-dsg-2017-to-2018;

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/dedicated-schools-grant-dsg-2018-to-2019;

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/dedicated-schools-grant-dsg-2019-to-2020;

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/dedicated-schools-grant-dsg-2020-to-2021;

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/dedicated-schools-grant-dsg-2021-to-2022.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
24th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will publish the criteria his Department used to determine (a) which councils would receive funding from the Dedicated schools grant: very high deficit intervention, announced on 19 March 2021 and (b) the level of (i) funding each would receive and (ii) spending reductions those councils would have to make as part of this.

We recognise that some local authorities have faced particular challenges in recent years in managing spending on pupils with high needs and will not be able to resolve their accumulated Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) deficits over a reasonable period without more targeted intervention. We have therefore developed a programme for those authorities with the greatest need for intervention to rapidly secure sustainable management of their high needs systems and spending, through a rigorous process of reform, with a firm focus on maintaining and improving the quality of support for children with special educational needs and disability.

In order to make this process manageable, it was necessary to limit discussions during the 2020-21 financial year to a fairly small number of local authorities. The first local authorities we have worked with on this intervention programme were those with the highest percentage DSG deficits at the end of the 2019-20 financial year. We expect to expand the programme to other local authorities during 2021-22 and as necessary in subsequent years, continuing to target those with the most substantial deficits.

The department did not set criteria in advance for the content of the agreements with local authorities. Following detailed discussions with the department, the local authorities wrote proposals aimed at securing the sustainability of their high needs systems and spending, and controlling their deficits, through rigorous reform. Those proposals included requests of the department for financial support to eliminate their historic deficits over time. The proposals formed the basis of the agreements with each local authority and are therefore specific to their individual circumstances. As set out in the agreements, funding will be paid over several financial years, and will be subject to delivery of the reforms and deficit reduction targets proposed by the local authorities involved.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
24th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, pursuant to the Answer of 11 March 2021 to Question 164550, how many (a) children’s centres and (b) children’s centre linked sites were operating in each year since 2009-10.

Based on the information supplied by local authorities there were 2301 children’s centres and 699 linked sites as at 25 March 2021[1], the total numbers of children’s centres and sites each year since 2010[2] are set out below:

Year

Number of children’s centres and sites[3]

2010

3,615

2011

3,619

2012

3,615

2013

3,577

2014

3,542

2015

3,442

2016

3,282

2017

3,214

2018

3,112

2019

3,048

2020

3,017

2021

3,000

[1] Source: This is based on information supplied by local authorities to the Get Information about Schools (GIAS) database, which can be access here: https://www.get-information-schools.service.gov.uk, and internal management information held by the department as of 25 March 2021. These figures may be different to previous answers, and could change again in future, since local authorities may update their data at any time. The GIAS collects data on children’s centres that local authorities have closed on a permanent basis. It does not collect data on children’s centres that local authorities may have closed temporarily in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

[2] Figures for 2010 are as at 30 April 2010. Figures for subsequent years are as at 1 January.

[3] No data is held on the date a children’s centre converts to a children’s centre linked site, therefore while a figure for the split between children’s centres and linked sites at the point a query is made can be established, it is not possible to provide a historic breakdown of this figure in previous years.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the latest guidance on Use of free early education entitlements funding during coronavirus, whether the summer and autumn early years counts will include children temporarily absent from settings as a result of sickness, self-isolation and/or parental concerns about safety.

As we announced in December 2020, we intend to fund local authorities for the 2021 spring term using the January 2021 census. If attendance rises after the census is taken, we will top-up local authority figures, up to 85% of their January 2020 census level, where a local authority can provide data of increased attendance during the Spring term. On 18 March 2021, we published guidance for local authorities setting out the process for accessing the top-up for the 2021 spring term and how they will be funded for the financial year 2021-22.

Given the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on childcare attendance levels, we announced that we are temporarily varying our approach to funding the entitlements for the 2021-22 financial year, to give local authorities and providers more protection over their funding income as we go through these uncertain times. Therefore, for the 2021-22 financial year, we intend to fund all local authorities on a termly attendance count that local authorities will need to provide to the department. The general principles set out in published guidance on how to conduct the usual annual early years January census should also be applied for these termly counts, to ensure consistency with the usual approaches taken in a normal early years funding year. In that, the existing census guidance already sets out how to record children who are temporarily absent (for example, due to sickness or on holiday), or if a provider is temporarily closed.

The technical guidance to local authorities is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/early-years-funding-spring-2021-and-financial-year-2021-to-2022.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the guidance entitled Use of free early education entitlements funding during coronavirus (COVID-19), updated 18 March, how local authorities will be supported to fund early entitlement take-up during spring term 2021.

As we announced in December 2020, we intend to fund local authorities for the 2021 spring term using the January 2021 census. If attendance rises after the census is taken, we will top-up local authority figures, up to 85% of their January 2020 census level, where a local authority can provide data of increased attendance during the Spring term. On 18 March 2021, we published guidance for local authorities setting out the process for accessing the top-up for the 2021 spring term and how they will be funded for the financial year 2021-22.

Given the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on childcare attendance levels, we announced that we are temporarily varying our approach to funding the entitlements for the 2021-22 financial year, to give local authorities and providers more protection over their funding income as we go through these uncertain times. Therefore, for the 2021-22 financial year, we intend to fund all local authorities on a termly attendance count that local authorities will need to provide to the department. The general principles set out in published guidance on how to conduct the usual annual early years January census should also be applied for these termly counts, to ensure consistency with the usual approaches taken in a normal early years funding year. In that, the existing census guidance already sets out how to record children who are temporarily absent (for example, due to sickness or on holiday), or if a provider is temporarily closed.

The technical guidance to local authorities is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/early-years-funding-spring-2021-and-financial-year-2021-to-2022.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
16th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many local authorities have been unable to fulfil their duties to unaccompanied asylum seeking children under the Children Act 1989 in each year since 2010.

Legislation is clear about the statutory duties placed on local authorities in caring for unaccompanied children. Section 17 of the Children Act 1989 imposes a duty on local authorities to safeguard and promote the welfare of children in need in their area and to accommodate them if they meet the relevant criteria for requiring accommodation under section 20 of the Children Act 1989.

As far as the department is aware, two local authorities have been unable to fulfil these duties to unaccompanied asylum seeking children under the Children Act 1989 since 2010, both in 2020, with one ongoing in 2021. We have been working with both councils to support them to meet their duties to unaccompanied asylum seeking children. The government has also worked with local authorities across the country to secure alternative placements for children and young people arriving in these local authorities.

An unaccompanied asylum seeking child will become looked after by the local authority after having been accommodated by that local authority under section 20 of the Children Act 1989 for 24 hours. This will mean that the local authority has the same statutory duties towards them as to any other looked after child.

Local authorities supporting high numbers of unaccompanied asylum seeking children in proportion to their child population have, since 2016, been able to refer children to the National Transfer Scheme if they are concerned about their capacity to meet their statutory duties towards them as looked after children. A place will then be sought for those children with another local authority that will take on statutory duties for them. Statistics on transfers made through the National Transfer Scheme are available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/asylum-transparency-data-february-2020.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
15th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, pursuant to the Answer of 23 December 2020 to Question 130189, what the evidential basis is for the statement that the increase in early years funding for 2021-22 will pay for a rate increase that is higher than the costs nurseries may face from the uplift to the national living wage in April 2021.

The national living wage will increase by 19p per hour from April 2021.

We have uplifted the funding rates by 8p an hour for 2 year olds and, for the vast majority of areas, by 6p an hour for 3 year olds and 4 year olds.

Ratio requirements for adults working with children in early years settings are set out in the Early Years Foundation Stage framework. Early years settings make their own decisions on how to deploy staff within the ratios, ensuring that children’s needs are met.

The funding rate increase is higher than the costs that nurseries may face from the April 2021 uplift to the national living wage.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
15th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that children in residential care are offered the same rights to stay put as children in foster care.

The government has provided £9.2 million over 4 years to pilot ‘Staying Close’ in 8 local areas, and to address the ‘cliff edge’ faced by young people leaving residential care. Staying Close provides an enhanced support package that is comparable to the option to Stay Put that exists for young people leaving foster care.

It includes an offer of move-on accommodation (close to their former children’s home), alongside a package of practical and emotional support (an average of 5-10 hours a week), provided by a member of staff from their former children’s home, who they know and trust.

An independent evaluation of the Staying Close pilots was published in November 2020 and reported that it is helping to provide young people with smoother transitions from residential care to adulthood, in particular:

  • Young people have access to improved housing options, and reduced eviction rates
  • The proportion of young people in education, employment or training has increased
  • Young people have improved emotional health and well-being and relationship management skills

The government remains committed to rolling-out Staying Close nationally in the next multi-year Spending Review period.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
15th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the upcoming ban on unregulated accommodation for children aged under 16, whether children in care who are settled in children’s homes will be required to move out before they formally leave care at 18.

This government firmly believes that every child in the care system deserves to live in a high-quality setting that meets their needs and keeps them safe. Anything less is unacceptable. We are clear that independent and semi-independent provision can be the right option for some older children, but it must be of high quality, and the young person must be ready for the level of independence that it promotes. As more older children are entering the care system, it is important that we ensure that there is a high-quality option available to facilitate the development of their independence, as they prepare for adult life and for leaving care.

We are introducing national standards for independent and semi-independent settings for children in care and care leavers aged 16 and 17 to raise the bar for this provision. This will work towards ensuring that local authorities can be confident when making placements in this provision and will strengthen our ability to take action against poor providers and, most importantly, will ensure that our children and young people are safe and have the best possible chances of success in life.

These settings, however, cannot meet the needs of children under the age of 16. These children are too young to be placed in independent and semi-independent provision. They should be placed in foster care or children’s homes, and that is why we are banning the practice of placing children under 16 in unregulated settings from September.

The ban on placing children under 16 in unregulated settings is in no way intended to create a default position at which children are placed in semi-independent or independent provision on their 16th birthday, as many of these young people’s needs will be best met by a placement in foster carers or in children’s homes. Local authorities have statutory duties to meet the needs of the children whom they look after and they should continue to place young people in settings that best meet their needs.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
15th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what estimate his Department has made of the number of family hubs that (a) opened and (b) closed in each local authority area in each year since 2010.

The department has not made such an estimate. The number of family hubs in each locality is determined by local councils in consultation with their local communities.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
15th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the Written Statement on Children's Social Care Update, Official Report, HCWS835, published 9 March 2021, if he will publish the data his Department holds on the use by local authorities of the flexibilities provided for by the Adoption and Children (Coronavirus) (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2020.

In February 2021, the department undertook a public consultation to seek views on extending and amending the Adoption and Children (Coronavirus) (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2020.

The consultation document included the monitoring information obtained from local authorities on the use of the flexibilities. On 9 March 2021, the Adoption and Children (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2021 were laid and the government response to the consultation was published. The consultation document and the response can be accessed at this link: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/changes-to-the-adoption-and-children-coronavirus-amendment-no-2-regulations-2020.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
8th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, in what year the first children’s centre was converted into a children’s centre linked site.

The attached table shows the number of children’s centres and children’s centre linked sites that have closed in each local authority each year since 2009-10.[1] [2]

The legal definition of a children’s centre is set out in Part 1 of the Childcare Act 2006, which can be accessed here: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2006/21/part/1 and in the underpinning statutory guidance, which can be accessed here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/sure-start-childrens-centres. It is up to a local authority to decide whether a centre (whether it is branded as a family hub, a children’s centre, or uses another name) should be counted as a children’s centre for data collection purposes, based on its interpretation of this definition.

The government does not hold information on the date a children’s centre converts to a children’s centre linked site.

[1] Source: This is based on information supplied by local authorities to Get Information about Schools (GIAS) database https://www.get-information-schools.service.gov.uk and internal management information held by the department on historical children’s centre closure dates as of 9 March 2021. These figures may be different to previous answers, and could change again in future, since local authorities may update their data at any time. The GIAS collects data on children’s centres that local authorities have closed on a permanent basis. It does not collect data on children’s centres that local authorities may have closed temporarily in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

[2] The table sets out the number of children's centres and children's centre linked sites closed each calendar year since 30 April 2010. No data is held on the number of children's centre sites closed prior to 30 April 2010. No closures were reported in the period between 30 April 2010 and 31 December 2010.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
8th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether his Department includes family hubs in its definition of children’s centres for the purpose of data collection.

The attached table shows the number of children’s centres and children’s centre linked sites that have closed in each local authority each year since 2009-10.[1] [2]

The legal definition of a children’s centre is set out in Part 1 of the Childcare Act 2006, which can be accessed here: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2006/21/part/1 and in the underpinning statutory guidance, which can be accessed here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/sure-start-childrens-centres. It is up to a local authority to decide whether a centre (whether it is branded as a family hub, a children’s centre, or uses another name) should be counted as a children’s centre for data collection purposes, based on its interpretation of this definition.

The government does not hold information on the date a children’s centre converts to a children’s centre linked site.

[1] Source: This is based on information supplied by local authorities to Get Information about Schools (GIAS) database https://www.get-information-schools.service.gov.uk and internal management information held by the department on historical children’s centre closure dates as of 9 March 2021. These figures may be different to previous answers, and could change again in future, since local authorities may update their data at any time. The GIAS collects data on children’s centres that local authorities have closed on a permanent basis. It does not collect data on children’s centres that local authorities may have closed temporarily in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

[2] The table sets out the number of children's centres and children's centre linked sites closed each calendar year since 30 April 2010. No data is held on the number of children's centre sites closed prior to 30 April 2010. No closures were reported in the period between 30 April 2010 and 31 December 2010.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
8th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many (a) children’s centres and (b) children’s centre linked sites have closed in each local authority area in each year since 2009-10.

The attached table shows the number of children’s centres and children’s centre linked sites that have closed in each local authority each year since 2009-10.[1] [2]

The legal definition of a children’s centre is set out in Part 1 of the Childcare Act 2006, which can be accessed here: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2006/21/part/1 and in the underpinning statutory guidance, which can be accessed here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/sure-start-childrens-centres. It is up to a local authority to decide whether a centre (whether it is branded as a family hub, a children’s centre, or uses another name) should be counted as a children’s centre for data collection purposes, based on its interpretation of this definition.

The government does not hold information on the date a children’s centre converts to a children’s centre linked site.

[1] Source: This is based on information supplied by local authorities to Get Information about Schools (GIAS) database https://www.get-information-schools.service.gov.uk and internal management information held by the department on historical children’s centre closure dates as of 9 March 2021. These figures may be different to previous answers, and could change again in future, since local authorities may update their data at any time. The GIAS collects data on children’s centres that local authorities have closed on a permanent basis. It does not collect data on children’s centres that local authorities may have closed temporarily in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

[2] The table sets out the number of children's centres and children's centre linked sites closed each calendar year since 30 April 2010. No data is held on the number of children's centre sites closed prior to 30 April 2010. No closures were reported in the period between 30 April 2010 and 31 December 2010.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
8th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment his Department has made of the ability of schools to deliver SEND provision when schools reopen during the covid-19 outbreak from 8 March 2021; and what specific support his Department has provided schools for that provision.

As of 8 March 2021 school attendance is mandatory for all pupils, and schools have remained open throughout national lockdown for vulnerable children including those children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) with an education, health and care plan (ECHP). The department is tracking attendance daily to monitor what is happening following wider reopening. These data include information on attendance by those children with SEND with an EHCP. Monitoring of attendance enables us to see how many children and young people with SEND are in school and receiving face to face provision.

To support schools in wider opening, we have published guidance to support teachers, school leaders and staff to deliver SEND provision safely. We have worked closely with other government department, bodies as well as the sector to develop this guidance, available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/guidance-for-schools-coronavirus-covid-19, https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-for-full-opening-special-schools-and-other-specialist-settings.

We are clear that all therapies and support that would normally be in place for children and young people with EHCPs should be provided, and our focus is on supporting local authorities, health commissioning bodies and education settings to do so.

As part of our system of controls, we have worked hard to design a testing regime that works for children and young people with SEND. This includes introducing a home testing approach (to which all pupils and students will default following the first two weeks of on-site testing), building in flexibility for specialist settings, and exploring the use of new technologies to support those who cannot tolerate a swab test.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
8th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, pursuant to the Answer of 27 January 2021 to Question 142032, what specific funding his Department plans to allocate to programmes aimed at identifying vulnerable children whose problems have gone unidentified and unsupported throughout the covid-19 outbreak.

The government continues to work closely with local authorities, the third sector and charity partners to understand the needs of local communities. It will keep under review any further measures that are necessary to support vulnerable children and young people. The government has supported vulnerable children throughout the COVID-19 outbreak including through keeping education settings open and ensuring the continuation of children’s social care and early help services. We are investing £1.7 billion in a comprehensive education recovery programme to help students recover from lost learning as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak and we have appointed Sir Kevan Collins, as Education Recovery Commissioner, to advise on plans to support pupils to make up their learning over the course of this Parliament. We are also investing £220 million in the Holiday Activities and Food programme, which will be expanded across England this year, and a £79 million boost to children and young people's mental health support.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
8th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the Government’s offer of covid-19 home test kits to be posted to families with children attending school, for what reason childminders have been excluded from the recent extension of the rollout of home testing kits to staff in PVI early years settings.

Childminders currently have access to community testing and should continue to use local community testing programmes for regular asymptomatic testing until further notice. More information on where and how these can be accessed is found here: https://www.gov.uk/find-covid-19-lateral-flow-test-site.

The Department is also continuing to work closely with colleagues across Government and local authorities to explore the most effective approach for testing childminders. We will update the sector on these developments as soon as we are able.

23rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what discussions his Department had with (a) families of children with hearing problems and (b) groups representing them on the decision to make face masks compulsory in secondary schools from March 8th.

The Department continues to work closely with other government departments throughout its response to the COVID-19 outbreak, including Public Health England (PHE) and the Department of Health and Social Care, as well as stakeholders across the sector. We continue to work to ensure that our policy is based on the latest scientific and medical advice, to continue to develop comprehensive guidance based on the PHE-endorsed ‘system of controls’ and to understand the impact and effectiveness of these measures on staff, pupils and parents.

The Department has recently published updated guidance to support the full opening to education from 8 March, which includes updated advice on face coverings. The guidance can be found here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/964351/Schools_coronavirus_operational_guidance.pdf.

As the guidance outlines, where pupils and students in Year 7 and above are educated, we recommend that face coverings should be worn by adults, pupils and students when moving around the premises, outside of classrooms, such as in corridors and communal areas where social distancing cannot easily be maintained.

In addition, from 8 March, we now also recommend that in schools and colleges where pupils and students in year 7 and above are educated, face coverings should be worn in classrooms unless social distancing can be maintained.

In primary schools, we recommend that face coverings should be worn by staff and adult visitors in situations where social distancing between adults is not possible (for example, when moving around in corridors and communal areas). Children in primary school do not need to wear a face covering.

Some individuals are exempt from wearing face coverings. This includes people who cannot put on, wear, or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability, or if you are speaking to or providing assistance to someone who relies on lip reading, clear sound or facial expressions to communicate. The same legal exemptions that apply to the wearing of face coverings in shops and on public transport also apply in education settings.

Transparent face coverings, which may assist communication with someone who relies on lip reading, clear sound or facial expression to communicate, can also be worn. There is currently very limited evidence regarding the effectiveness or safety of transparent face coverings, but they may be effective in reducing the spread of COVID-19.

The Department is recommending these precautionary measures for a limited time during this period of high COVID-19 prevalence in the community. These measures will be in place until Easter, and as with all measures, we will keep this under close review.

23rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to ensure that children who are (a) deaf or (b) hard of hearing can access education when masks are introduced in classrooms from March 8th.

The Department continues to work closely with other government departments throughout its response to the COVID-19 outbreak, including Public Health England (PHE) and the Department of Health and Social Care, as well as stakeholders across the sector. We continue to work to ensure that our policy is based on the latest scientific and medical advice, to continue to develop comprehensive guidance based on the PHE-endorsed ‘system of controls’ and to understand the impact and effectiveness of these measures on staff, pupils and parents.

The Department has recently published updated guidance to support the full opening to education from 8 March, which includes updated advice on face coverings. The guidance can be found here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/964351/Schools_coronavirus_operational_guidance.pdf.

As the guidance outlines, where pupils and students in Year 7 and above are educated, we recommend that face coverings should be worn by adults, pupils and students when moving around the premises, outside of classrooms, such as in corridors and communal areas where social distancing cannot easily be maintained.

In addition, from 8 March, we now also recommend that in schools and colleges where pupils and students in year 7 and above are educated, face coverings should be worn in classrooms unless social distancing can be maintained.

In primary schools, we recommend that face coverings should be worn by staff and adult visitors in situations where social distancing between adults is not possible (for example, when moving around in corridors and communal areas). Children in primary school do not need to wear a face covering.

Some individuals are exempt from wearing face coverings. This includes people who cannot put on, wear, or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability, or if you are speaking to or providing assistance to someone who relies on lip reading, clear sound or facial expressions to communicate. The same legal exemptions that apply to the wearing of face coverings in shops and on public transport also apply in education settings.

Transparent face coverings, which may assist communication with someone who relies on lip reading, clear sound or facial expression to communicate, can also be worn. There is currently very limited evidence regarding the effectiveness or safety of transparent face coverings, but they may be effective in reducing the spread of COVID-19.

The Department is recommending these precautionary measures for a limited time during this period of high COVID-19 prevalence in the community. These measures will be in place until Easter, and as with all measures, we will keep this under close review.

11th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what discussions he has had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on a long term funding settlement for maintained nursery schools in Budget 2021.

Maintained nursery schools (MNS) are an important part of the early years sector and provide valuable services, especially in disadvantaged areas.

As part of the recent Spending Review, the government has confirmed a continuation of around £60 million of supplementary funding for MNS in the 2021/22 financial year. This includes £23 million of supplementary funding that the government confirmed in August 2020 will be provided to local authorities for the summer term in 2021.

The department continues to consider what is required to ensure a clear, long-term picture of funding for MNS. This government remains committed to the long-term funding of MNS, and any reform to the way they are funded will be accompanied by appropriate funding protections.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
11th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what estimate he has made of the average waiting time to speak to an adviser on his Department's helpline in the most recent period for which figures are available.

The Department for Education general enquiries helpline does not hold data on the average waiting time. During the period of 1 September 2020 to 12 February 2021, the helpline received 18,183 calls, of which 94% were answered. The system allows helpline managers to see the number of callers in the queue to speak to an adviser and managers are able to deploy extra resource to answer calls.

During the same period, the Department for Education COVID-19 helpline, received 61,709 calls of which 97% were answered with an average wait time of 290 seconds (4 min 50 sec). The COVID-19 helpline uses different call handling system and provides additional data.

8th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans he has to allow children with Education, Health and Care plans repeat a school year where the parents and school believe that this is in their best interest as a result of the educational consequences of the covid-19 outbreak.

Despite restrictions to schools for the majority of pupils, teachers and school staff are working extremely hard to give face-to-face education to vulnerable children (this includes those who have an education, health and care plan) and the children of critical workers.

Once a child has been admitted to a school, it is for the head teacher to decide how best to educate them. This may, on occasion, include deciding that a child should be educated in a year group other than the one indicated by their age. Such decisions should be based on sound educational reasons and in consultation with parents.

The Department does not currently anticipate that children and young people will need to repeat a school year as a consequence of the COVID-19 outbreak. We continue to look at all options to make sure children and young people get the support they need to continue their education during the outbreak and make up for time spent out of school.

However, it remains possible for headteachers to agree this in individual cases, if they think it is appropriate.

29th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he has taken to provide financial support to the wraparound and holiday childcare sector during the period of national restrictions announced in January 2021.

Ensuring sufficient childcare for families continues to be a government priority. This is why we have ensured that wraparound childcare settings have been able to remain open for vulnerable children and children of critical workers during the current national lockdown, in line with those children eligible to attend school for onsite provision. We have also updated our guidance to support providers to operate as safely as possible: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-early-years-and-childcare-closures/coronavirus-covid-19-early-years-and-childcare-closures.

We recognise that the wraparound childcare sector, like many sectors, is facing unprecedented financial pressures, as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. It is for this reason that the government has made a range of financial packages of support available for businesses to access throughout the COVID-19 outbreak. This includes tax relief, business loans or cash grants through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), and the Self-Employed Support Scheme (SEISS), as well as a £594 million discretionary fund for councils and the devolved administrations to support local businesses that may not be eligible for other support during the current national lockdown.

We are also still encouraging all local authorities to consider using local grants that have been made available to them during the COVID-19 outbreak to support the wraparound childcare sector in their areas and to safeguard sufficient childcare provision for all families. This includes the expanded Holiday Activities and Food Programme, which comprises a £220 million fund to be delivered through grants to local authorities. This programme will give children eligible for free school meals the option to join a free holiday-time programme that provides healthy food and enriching activities during the summer, Christmas and Easter holidays in 2021.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
29th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether (a) wraparound and (b) holiday childcare services can remain open during the February half-term.

For the duration of the national lockdown, announced on 4 January 2020, wraparound childcare, holiday clubs, and out-of-school settings can continue to offer face-to-face provision for:

  • children of critical workers, where it is reasonably necessary to support their parents or carers to work, seek work, attend a medical appointment, or undertake education or training; and
  • vulnerable children and young people

This continues to remain the case during the February half-term holidays and schools can continue to open up or hire out their premises for use by wraparound childcare providers offering provision for the children of critical workers and/or vulnerable children. Early years settings have remained open to all children for the duration of the current national lockdown.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
26th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will set out all circumstances in which early years staff may be furloughed.

During the COVID-19 outbreak, we have provided unprecedented support to the early years sector by continuing to fund the free childcare entitlements, making grants and loans available and ensuring early years providers can access the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) for their non-government funded income, and ensuring that childminders can access the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS). We continue to ensure that providers can access the support available.

On 17 December 2020, my right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, announced that both the CJRS and SEISS will be extended to April 2021. We also updated the CJRS guidance for early years so that all providers who have seen a drop in their overall income are able to furlough any staff (who were on payroll on or before 30 October) and who are not required for delivering the government’s funded entitlements.

The early years sector has benefitted from the continuation of early years entitlement funding during the summer and autumn terms in 2020, and providers have been able to furlough their staff via the CJRS. As long as the staff meet the other criteria for the scheme, schools and early years providers are able to furlough their staff if they have experienced a drop in either their income from parents or the government. Eligible nurseries can also benefit from a business rates holiday and can access the business loans as set out by the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

We stay in regular contact with the early years sector and will keep under constant review whether further action is needed.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
25th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, for what reason maintained nursery schools are receiving covid-19 home testing kits a week later than primary schools and school-based early years provision.

The Department is rolling out its asymptomatic testing programme to primary schools with deliveries of test kits starting from 18 January 2021. The asymptomatic testing programme will offer all primary school, schools based nursery and maintained nursery school staff home Lateral Flow Device test kits for twice weekly testing. This will help to break the chains of transmission of COVID-19 in nurseries and schools by identifying asymptomatic positive cases. Those who test positive will then self-isolate, helping to reduce transmission of the virus.

Due to delivery logistics, maintained nursery schools will start to receive home testing kits from week commencing 1 February 2021 .

25th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, for what reason private, voluntary and independent early years providers are not eligible for the roll-out of covid-19 home testing kits.

The Department considers that prioritising staff in private, voluntary and independent early years providers in the community testing regime is the most effective way of providing them with testing.

Community testing programmes are currently being rolled out across the country. These are led by local authorities and provide asymptomatic testing through testing sites based in the local community. This testing is primarily focused on those who must leave home to work during lockdown.

Early years staff, as critical workers, continue to have priority access to the Department of Health and Social Care led symptomatic PCR testing via the online portal: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-getting-tested.

25th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans he has to increase the funding allocated for free school meals to take account of a rise in registrations in the January 2021 census.

Schools are funded for the provision of free school meals as part of their national funding formula allocations. The funding system is lagged and based on pupil information from the previous year. As such, increases in free school meal eligibility leads to increased funding the following year. The lagged funding system gives schools certainty over their budgets, as they know how much funding they will receive in advance.

During the period of national lockdown, schools should continue to provide meal options for all pupils who are in school. Meals should be available free of charge to all infant pupils and pupils who are eligible for benefits-related free school meals who are in school.

Schools should also continue to provide free school meal support to pupils who are eligible for benefits related free school meals and who are learning from home. Extra funding will be provided to support schools to provide food parcels or meals to eligible children.

Schools are free to decide the best approach for their free school meal pupils. They can provide lunch parcels, locally arranged vouchers, or they can use the national voucher scheme with Edenred, which re-opened on 18 January 2021. Schools have begun ordering and families have already begun redeeming supermarket vouchers.

Edenred reported that, by the end of 25 January 2021, 34,400 orders had been placed by schools and more than £26 million of eCodes had already been redeemed into supermarket gift cards for families.

Further details are set out in the guidance, available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-free-school-meals-guidance/covid-19-free-school-meals-guidance-for-schools.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
22nd Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans he has to extend Government funding for Barnardo’s See, Hear, Respond programme after March 2021.

See, Hear, Respond was set up as a short-term response to address the specific support needs of children and young people due to the sudden and unpredictable impact of the COVID-19 outbreak and national restrictions. The government recognises the vital role that it has played in supporting over 45,000 vulnerable children, young people and families.

The current contract is due to end at the end of March 2021. The government continues to work closely with local authorities, the third sector and charity partners to understand the needs of local communities. It will keep under review any further measures that are necessary to support vulnerable children and young people.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
14th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what the evidential basis was for the decision to provide covid-19 test kits to primary schools and local authority-run nurseries but not to private, voluntary and independent early years providers.

The Department is continuing to work closely with other government departments and local authorities to secure the most effective approach to asymptomatic testing for the whole of the early years sector. This includes ongoing discussions about providing testing via the education testing programme as well as strongly encouraging local authorities to prioritise appropriate testing for early years staff via Community Testing programmes, which now covers all local authorities. Many local authorities’ Community Testing programmes are already underway for early years staff to access asymptomatic testing where appropriate.

The Department is rolling out our asymptomatic testing programme to primary schools, schools-based nurseries and maintained nursery schools who will receive testing kits for staff from 18th January. The asymptomatic testing programme will offer all primary school, schools-based nursery and maintained nursery school staff home Lateral Flow Device test kits for twice weekly testing. This will help to break the chains of transmission of COVID-19 in schools and nurseries by identifying asymptomatic positive cases. Those who test positive will then self-isolate, helping to reduce transmission of the virus.

14th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to ensure that external candidates who have entered into exams for 2020-21 that have been cancelled can receive qualifications.

In light of the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, the Department has decided that exams cannot be held in a way which is fair. We have, therefore, announced that GCSE, AS and A level exams will not go ahead this summer as planned.

My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, has asked the Chief Regulator at Ofqual to find a clear and accessible route for private candidates, and those not in school this year, to be assessed and receive a grade. The Department and Ofqual have launched a two-week consultation on how to fairly award all pupils a grade that supports them to progress to the next stage of their lives, including consulting specifically on four different approaches for private candidates to receive a grade.

The consultation can be accessed from the Ofqual website and will be open until 29 January 2021. The Department and Ofqual strongly encourage all our stakeholders, including private candidates and their parents, to respond. We will continue to engage with a range of relevant stakeholders when developing plans for our policy on GCSE, AS and A level assessments in 2021, as will the exams regulator Ofqual.

14th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether children receiving remote learning from their early years provider during the covid-19 lockdown will be counted in the January 2021 census as registered at that provider for the purposes of calculating local authority early years entitlement funding.

On 4 January, my right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister announced that early years provision would remain open for children during the national lockdown in England. The early years entitlements exist to provide high quality education and care for pre-school children. Early education enables very young children to develop the core building blocks of communication and social skills. The government does not consider remote learning to be an effective way of delivering high quality early education for very young children, and nor can young children be cared for online.

For the purposes of the Early Years Census 2021, local authorities have been asked to count the hours of children who have been offered a place in early years provision and who are reasonably expected to attend the provision. This means children who, were it not for the impact of coronavirus on either their own personal circumstances or on the operation of their Early Years setting, would be attending Early Years provision. This does not include children who have been offered remote learning as an alternative to a place in early years provision.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
13th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether his Department plans to provide financial support to university students who have been unable to return to their student accommodation due to the covid-19 lockdown restrictions implemented on 5 January 2021.

Universities and private accommodation providers are autonomous and responsible for setting their own rent agreements. The government plays no direct role in the provision of student accommodation.

This has been a very difficult time for students, and we encourage universities and accommodation providers to review their accommodation policies to ensure they are fair, transparent and have the best interests of students at heart.

We recognise that in these exceptional circumstances some students may face financial hardship. The Department for Education has worked with the Office for Students to clarify that providers are able to draw on existing funds, worth around £256 million for academic year 2020/21, towards hardship support. The government is making available up to a further £20 million on a one-off basis to support those that need it most, particularly disadvantaged students. As my right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister, said on the 7 January 2021, we are considering what more we can do to provide further support to students.

Maintenance loans are available as a contribution towards a student’s living costs while attending university. The system targets the most living cost support at those from the lowest income families, who need it most.

Students undertaking courses that would normally require attendance on-site, but for which learning has moved either fully or partially online due to the COVID-19 outbreak, will qualify for living costs support in the 2020/21 academic year as they would ordinarily, provided they continue to engage with their higher education provider. This also applies when the student is prevented from attending the course physically and is required to study online due to shielding.

If students have concerns about their accommodation fees, they should first raise their concerns with their accommodation provider. If their concerns remain unresolved, and their higher education provider is involved in the provision of the accommodation, students at providers in England or Wales can ask the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education to consider their complaint.

If a student thinks their accommodation provider is treating them unfairly, they can raise a complaint under the accommodation codes of practice as long as their provider is a code member. The codes can be found at: https://www.thesac.org.uk/, https://www.unipol.org.uk/the-code/how-to-complain and https://www.rla.org.uk/about/nrla-code-of-practice.shtml.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Department for Education) (Higher and Further Education)
13th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how much funding Edenred has received to deliver the national free school meal voucher scheme in 2020.

The Department for Education made an award of a contract to Edenred pursuant to Regulation 32(2)(c) Public Contracts Regulations 2015 to provide extremely urgent deliverables as part of the response to the COVID-19 outbreak. The contract was let as a direct award using the terms of an existing Crown Commercial Service framework. The Department does not comment on the commercial arrangements of third parties but can confirm that we have only paid for the face value of goods delivered (in this case, vouchers).

Our supplier, Edenred, reported that over £380 million worth of voucher codes had been redeemed into supermarket eGift cards by schools and families through the scheme as of 19 August 2020.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
8th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, when his Department plans to publish (a) updated transparency data on looked-after children in independent or semi-independent placements for the year ending 31 March 2020 and (b) a response to the consultation on unregulated provision for children in care and care leavers.

The latest information on children looked after in England, including the number of looked after children placed in independent and semi-independent placements on 31 March 2020, is contained in the children looked after in England statistics release, which is available here: https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/find-statistics/children-looked-after-in-england-including-adoptions.

Children in care and care leavers are some of the most vulnerable children and young people in society, and we must do all that we can to ensure that they have access to suitable, safe and secure accommodation that meets their needs and keeps them safe. Our consultation on unregulated provision for children in care and care leavers asked for views on a set of ambitious proposals to reform unregulated provision for children in care and care leavers, including banning the use of independent and semi-independent placements for children and young people under the age of 16, the introduction of new national standards in independent and semi-independent provision and giving Ofsted new legal powers to act against illegal providers.

The consultation received a strong response from the sector, and care-experienced young people. We will publish the government’s response to the consultation in due course.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
6th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans he has to ensure that pupils entitled to (a) benefits-related free school meals and (b) universal infant free school meals continue to receive support during the January 2021 covid-19 lockdown; and what plans he has to re-introduce the national free school meal voucher scheme.

During the period of national lockdown, schools should continue to provide meal options for all pupils who are in school. Meals should be available free of charge to all infant pupils and pupils who are eligible for benefits-related free school meals who are in school.

Schools should also continue to provide free school meal support to pupils who are eligible for benefits related free school meals and who are learning at home. Extra funding will be provided to support schools to provide food parcels or meals to eligible children. Where schools cannot offer food parcels or local alternatives, we will ensure a national voucher scheme is in place so that every eligible child can access free school meals while their school remains closed. Further guidance will be provided shortly.

Food parcels or vouchers are only available for children who are eligible for and receiving benefits-related free school meals. This includes children of infant age, that meet the free school meal eligibility criteria.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
6th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what estimate his Department has made of the effect of the January 2021 covid-19 lockdown on demand for childcare; and what plans he has to change funding arrangements for early years providers in the Spring term of 2021 due to the lockdown and potential implications for setting occupancy levels.

Whilst we recognise childcare attendance has been affected by the COVID-19 outbreak, we saw attendance rise over the autumn term from 482,000 on 10 September 2020 to 759,000 on 17 December 2020. On 17 December 2020, the government therefore announced a return to funding early years settings on the basis on attendance. In line with the existing and unchanged statutory guidance local authorities should ensure that providers are not penalised for short-term absences of children, for example sickness, arriving late or leaving early, or a family emergency through withdrawing funding, but use their discretion where absence is recurring or for extended periods, taking into account the reason for the absence and the impact on the provider.

We will fund local authorities in the 2021 spring term based on their January 2021 census. If attendance rises after the census is taken, we will top-up councils to up to 85% of their January 2020 census level, where a local authority can provide evidence for increased attendance during the spring term. This will give local authorities additional financial confidence to pay providers for increasing attendance later in the spring term.

For more info on use of Early Years Dedicated Schools Grant in Spring 2021, please see here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/use-of-free-early-education-entitlements-funding-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/use-of-free-early-education-entitlements-funding-during-coronavirus-covid-19.

The early years sector has benefitted from the continuation of early years entitlement funding during the during the Summer and Autumn terms in 2020, and providers have been able to furlough their staff via the Coronavirus Jobs Retention Scheme. As long as the staff meet the other criteria for the scheme, schools and early years providers are able to furlough their staff if they have experienced a drop in either their income from parents or government. Eligible nurseries can also benefit from a business rates holiday and can access the business loans as set out by my right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

We stay in regular contact with the early years sector, including on this subject. We will be closely monitoring both parental take-up of places and the capacity and responses of providers.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
6th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans his Department has to ensure that vulnerable children who are safer in school than at home are encouraged to attend educational settings during the January 2021 covid-19 lockdown and are able to do so; and what steps he will take to identify children facing greater risks in lockdown periods and ensure they are reached by support services.

Since the lockdown announced on 4 January 2021, primary, secondary, alternative provision, special schools and further education providers will remain open to Vulnerable Children and Young People (VCYP). We have made clear that educational providers and local authorities should offer places and support to any child they deem as vulnerable, and VCYP are strongly encouraged to attend their educational setting.

The full-time attendance of VCYP, and ensuring that VCYP remain supported during the COVID-19 outbreak, continues to be a priority and we expect schools to follow up attendance concerns where absences are not related to COVID-19, including working with social workers, virtual schools heads and other services as needed.

We are clear on the important role of social workers to promote attendance and we are using our Regional Education and Care Teams to work directly with local authorities where attendance is a concern. We have launched a social worker toolkit to support social workers to encourage vulnerable children to attend school.

Where VCYP cannot attend schools or other settings (including post-16), we have asked local authorities and educational settings to ensure they have systems in place to keep in touch with them.

We have continued to keep children’s social care working and ensured there are exemptions in some restrictions to enable services to continue to be there for families of VCYP.

We are supporting local safeguarding partnerships to work together to protect children in their areas, bolstering helplines and providing support for families with children who have SEND. We have continued to make sure that children have access to social workers.

Local authorities are providing the department with regular insight on contact between children and their social workers, social worker availability and other key indicators.

The government has also provided funding to children’s voluntary, community, and social enterprise (VCSE) organisations to ensure charities can continue to provide services that safeguard vulnerable children and protect them from harm. This includes:

  • £7 million donated to fund Barnardo’s ’See, Hear, Respond‘ services supporting VCYP. Additional funding has been awarded to a coalition of charities to continue the ‘See, Hear, Respond’ programme until March 2021.
  • Additional funding of £310,000 for Childline to modify and enhance the service for children and young people being put at increased risk of harm by isolation.
Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
6th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans his Department has to make additional support and guidance available to special schools and alternative provision during the January 2021 covid-19 lockdown; and whether he plans to make any changes to the proposed roll out of mass asymptomatic testing.

To support all schools, including special schools and alternative provision (AP) we have published guidance for schools on 7 January 2021, which is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak. Further Guidance has also been published for special school specialist post 16 providers and alternative provision: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/953215/Guidance_for_special_schools__specialist_post-16_providers_and_alternative_provision_during_the_national_lockdown.pdf.

The government is delivering a programme of rapid asymptomatic in schools and colleges, including special schools and AP. Rapidly identifying and containing any asymptomatic cases, which comprise up to a third of all cases, will help avoid individuals carrying COVID-19 from unknowingly spreading it.

In recognition of the additional considerations specialist settings will have to take into account when delivering rapid asymptomatic testing, we have published additional guidance which can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-for-full-opening-special-schools-and-other-specialist-settings/mass-asymptomatic-testing-in-specialist-settings.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
6th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans he has to bring forward legislative proposals on the rights of (a) children in care and (b) children with special educational needs and disabilities during the January 2021 covid-19 lockdown.

The duties to our most vulnerable children that are set out in primary legislation (such as in section 22(3) of the Children Act 1989 and section 1 of the Adoption and Children Act 2002) remain in place but we recognise that we are operating in a challenging context.

To ensure services are maintained during the COVID-19 outbreak and to ensure that support remains in place, following a public consultation over summer 2020, a small number of amendments to secondary legislation came into force on 25 September 2020 (Adoption and Children (Coronavirus) (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2020). These amendments are in place until 31 March 2021. We will continue to keep the situation under review, including through discussion with interested parties including children’s rights groups.

Separately, there are some relevant exceptions to national restrictions, for example, continuing to allow contact between children and parents who do not live together.

At this stage, we do not intend to issue further notices to modify the duty on local authorities and health commissioning bodies under section 42 of the Children and Families Act 2014 to secure or arrange the provision specified in an Education Health Care Plan. However, we will keep this position under review based on the evidence.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
17th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what discussions his Department has had with the Department for Health and Social Care on incorporating children’s social care services into Integrated Care Systems.

As the ‘NHS Integrating Care – The next steps to building strong and effective integrated care systems across England’ guidance sets out, “as Integrated Care Systems are established and evolve, this will create opportunities to further strengthen partnership working between local government, the NHS, public health and social care”.

The department is wholly supportive of closer partnership working that improves safeguarding and protection of children. We are clear in the arrangements set out in the Working Together to Safeguard Children’ guidance that there is a shared responsibility between organisations and agencies to safeguard, and promote, the welfare of all children in a local area. That is why we have placed an equal duty on health, police, and local authorities to ensure these agencies make arrangements to promote the welfare of children. We will continue to work closely with colleagues in the Department of Health and Social Care, and the wider safeguarding sector, on this vital agenda.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
17th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will publish the data his Department holds on the effect of school bubble isolation following positive covid-19 cases on local transmission of covid-19.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has commissioned the COVID-19 Schools Infection Survey (SIS) which aims to investigate the prevalence of current COVID-19 infection and COVID-19 antibodies among pupils and staff in sampled primary and secondary schools in England. In addition, it aims to examine the impact of attendance of pupils and staff, school implementation measures and outbreak investigations. The first round of survey results was published on the 17 December 2020. More information is available at: https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/conditionsanddiseases/bulletins/covid19schoolsinfectionsurveyround1england/november2020.

The ONS has also commissioned the COVID-19 Infection Survey (CIS) which looks to identify the percentage of the population testing positive for COVID-19 and whether they have symptoms or not. The latest survey results were published on 18 December 2020. More information is available at: https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/conditionsanddiseases/bulletins/coronaviruscovid19infectionsurveypilot/18december2020#measuring-the-data.

When comparing data across the two surveys, prevalence figures from the SIS are lower than prevalence within equivalent age-matched groups from CIS data. This suggests that many positive cases are staying away from school, in line with COVID-19 safety guidelines. The Department continues to review data, analysis, and advice from several different sources, including the ONS, the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, Public Health England, and the Joint Biosecurity Centre, to ensure our policies are guided by the most up to date scientific evidence.

17th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what estimate his Department has made of the proportion of the current year's increase in the Schools Block of dedicated schools grant funding that has directly benefitted SEND pupils.

A great education is fundamental to the success of children, their families, and our communities, as well as the success of our country. That is why we are giving schools the largest cash boost in a decade, which will give every school more money for every child. We are increasing core schools funding by £2.6 billion in the 2020/21 financial year, including an additional £780 million for children with complex special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), compared to the 2019/20 financial year. In the 2021/22 financial year, our funding for high needs will increase by a further £730 million, or 10%, bringing the total high needs budget to over £8 billion. High needs funding is allocated to local authorities through the Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG).

We do not prescribe in detail how schools should spend their funding allocations, nor how local authorities should allocate their high needs funding, but local authorities and schools have statutory duties under the Children and Families Act (2014) to support children and young people with SEND. Local authorities must also spend DSG funding in line with the conditions of grant. Further information on these conditions is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/dedicated-schools-grant-dsg-2020-to-2021/dsg-conditions-of-grant-2020-to-2021.

We have published the ‘Dedicated Schools Grant technical note 2020 to 2021’ which explains how the DSG allocations for this year are calculated, and the ‘schools and high needs national funding formula allocation tables for 2020/21’ show the allocations for each local authority, and the values used to calculate the final allocation. These are available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/dedicated-schools-grant-dsg-2020-to-2021/dsg-technical-note-2020-to-2021 and https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-funding-formula-tables-for-schools-and-high-needs-2020-to-2021. The funding formula includes a range of proxies to reflect the underlying level of need in each local area, as well as factors to reflect the local SEND system.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
17th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that increases in funding to support children with SEND are used for that purpose.

A great education is fundamental to the success of children, their families, and our communities, as well as the success of our country. That is why we are giving schools the largest cash boost in a decade, which will give every school more money for every child. We are increasing core schools funding by £2.6 billion in the 2020/21 financial year, including an additional £780 million for children with complex special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), compared to the 2019/20 financial year. In the 2021/22 financial year, our funding for high needs will increase by a further £730 million, or 10%, bringing the total high needs budget to over £8 billion. High needs funding is allocated to local authorities through the Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG).

We do not prescribe in detail how schools should spend their funding allocations, nor how local authorities should allocate their high needs funding, but local authorities and schools have statutory duties under the Children and Families Act (2014) to support children and young people with SEND. Local authorities must also spend DSG funding in line with the conditions of grant. Further information on these conditions is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/dedicated-schools-grant-dsg-2020-to-2021/dsg-conditions-of-grant-2020-to-2021.

We have published the ‘Dedicated Schools Grant technical note 2020 to 2021’ which explains how the DSG allocations for this year are calculated, and the ‘schools and high needs national funding formula allocation tables for 2020/21’ show the allocations for each local authority, and the values used to calculate the final allocation. These are available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/dedicated-schools-grant-dsg-2020-to-2021/dsg-technical-note-2020-to-2021 and https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-funding-formula-tables-for-schools-and-high-needs-2020-to-2021. The funding formula includes a range of proxies to reflect the underlying level of need in each local area, as well as factors to reflect the local SEND system.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
17th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will publish his Department's methodology for calculating the High Needs Block of dedicated school grant funding for individual local authorities; and whether that methodology takes into account (a) existing deficits and (b) increased demand for SEND high needs support.

A great education is fundamental to the success of children, their families, and our communities, as well as the success of our country. That is why we are giving schools the largest cash boost in a decade, which will give every school more money for every child. We are increasing core schools funding by £2.6 billion in the 2020/21 financial year, including an additional £780 million for children with complex special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), compared to the 2019/20 financial year. In the 2021/22 financial year, our funding for high needs will increase by a further £730 million, or 10%, bringing the total high needs budget to over £8 billion. High needs funding is allocated to local authorities through the Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG).

We do not prescribe in detail how schools should spend their funding allocations, nor how local authorities should allocate their high needs funding, but local authorities and schools have statutory duties under the Children and Families Act (2014) to support children and young people with SEND. Local authorities must also spend DSG funding in line with the conditions of grant. Further information on these conditions is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/dedicated-schools-grant-dsg-2020-to-2021/dsg-conditions-of-grant-2020-to-2021.

We have published the ‘Dedicated Schools Grant technical note 2020 to 2021’ which explains how the DSG allocations for this year are calculated, and the ‘schools and high needs national funding formula allocation tables for 2020/21’ show the allocations for each local authority, and the values used to calculate the final allocation. These are available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/dedicated-schools-grant-dsg-2020-to-2021/dsg-technical-note-2020-to-2021 and https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-funding-formula-tables-for-schools-and-high-needs-2020-to-2021. The funding formula includes a range of proxies to reflect the underlying level of need in each local area, as well as factors to reflect the local SEND system.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
17th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will provide an estimated date for the publication of the SEND review.

The government remains fully committed to a thorough and fundamental review of the special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) system.

The issues that the SEND system face are complex, but we are determined to deliver real, lasting improvements, taking into account the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The COVID-19 outbreak has had an unavoidable impact on our capacity to conclude the review, but it is my aim to bring forward proposals for public consultation next Spring.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
16th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will publish details of the procurement process for the new National Centre for Family Hubs and Integrated Services; and what steps his Department is taking to ensure that those services are delivered (a) transparently and (b) effectively.

The tendering opportunity in relation to the establishment of the National Centre for Family Hubs and Integrated Services went live on 11 December 2020 via the department’s electronic procurement portal, Jaggaer. All related documentation is available to access via this system. Further information on this can be accessed here: https://www.contractsfinder.service.gov.uk/Notice/b1066d22-abef-4123-8ba1-847425a7b888 and https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/department-for-education/about/procurement#jaggaer-the-dfe-etendering-portal.

This procurement is being undertaken in line with the Open procedure of the Public Contracting Regulations 2015. Any resulting contract will be awarded in line with the DfE standard terms and conditions for services and will be managed in line with departmental best practices.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
7th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, pursuant to the Answer of 7 December 2020 to Question 123657, how his Department calculated the financial effect of the minimum wage rise announced in the Spending Review 2020 on early years providers.

I refer the hon. Member for Hampstead and Kilburn to the answer I gave on 7 December 2020 to Question 123656.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
3rd Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to (a) publicise the Period Products Scheme and (b) increase school participation in that scheme.

On 20 January 2020, the Department for Education launched a new scheme which makes free period products available for state-funded primary schools, secondary schools and colleges in England.

This scheme is in place to ensure that no learner misses out on education due to their period. Schools and colleges should have period products available should learners need them. Schools may choose to order period products through this scheme or through an alternative route.

Our supplier phs Group reported in August that almost 40% of eligible organisations have placed orders for period products through this scheme, and we are continuing to monitor orders closely. The scheme remained in operation during partial school and college closures, and these organisations are still able to order a range of period products and distribute them to learners.

We continue to work with our delivery partner phs Group to encourage engagement with the scheme. We intend to publish positive stories from organisations that have benefitted from the scheme in order to promote it further.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
2nd Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, pursuant to the Answer to Question 118555 on 25 November 2020 on Pre-school Education: Government Assistance, what estimate his Department has made of the average hourly rate paid to early years providers by local authorities; and what assessment his Department has made of the potential effect of the Spending Review 2020 on that average hourly rate from April 2021.

At the Spending Review 2020, my right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced a £44 million investment for the 2021-22 financial year, to enable local authorities to increase hourly rates paid to childcare providers for the government’s free childcare entitlement offers: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/spending-review-2020-documents. Further details and information on how this will be distributed will be made available as soon as possible.

Local authorities are responsible for setting the funding rates for their childcare providers. Local authorities normally submit this information to the department through the Section 251 financial return. These returns are published. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Section 251 budget return for the 2020-21 financial year was cancelled. Therefore, we do not have the data for this year.

The most recent Section 251 data can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/planned-la-and-school-expenditure-2019-to-2020-financial-year.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
2nd Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what funding his Department has allocated to local authorities for the delivery of the Staying Put programme in financial year 2021-22.

Since its introduction in 2014, the department has provided over £140 million to local authorities to support local implementation of Staying Put, including £33 million in 2020/21 (an increase of £9 million (40%) from 2019/20). This has helped thousands of young people to remain with their former foster carers for longer and make a more gradual transition to independence. Funding for Staying Put for the financial year 2021/22 will be confirmed once the department’s internal Spending Review discussions have concluded.

The latest data – for year ending March 2019 - show that 55% of eligible 18 year olds chose to Stay Put; and 31% of 19 year olds and 21% of 20 year olds were also still living with their former foster carers. Care leavers who Stay Put are twice as likely to go to university and half as likely to be not in education, employment or training compared to all care leavers.

The government does not believe that introducing a national minimum allowance for Staying Put carers is the right way forward. Unlike children in foster care, young people in Staying Put arrangements are adults, and may be in work, or claiming benefits (including housing benefit). These sources of income can be used to contribute to the cost of providing the Staying Put arrangement, in a similar way that young people who are still living at home with their parents may contribute to the costs of running the household. We therefore believe the level of financial support that Staying Put carers receive should be agreed on a case by case basis.

The department is aware of the need to update the Staying Put guidance that was published in 2013 and will endeavour to prioritise this work as soon as possible.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
2nd Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans he has to set minimum allowances for Staying Put carers supporting young people aged from (a) 18 to (b) 20.

Since its introduction in 2014, the department has provided over £140 million to local authorities to support local implementation of Staying Put, including £33 million in 2020/21 (an increase of £9 million (40%) from 2019/20). This has helped thousands of young people to remain with their former foster carers for longer and make a more gradual transition to independence. Funding for Staying Put for the financial year 2021/22 will be confirmed once the department’s internal Spending Review discussions have concluded.

The latest data – for year ending March 2019 - show that 55% of eligible 18 year olds chose to Stay Put; and 31% of 19 year olds and 21% of 20 year olds were also still living with their former foster carers. Care leavers who Stay Put are twice as likely to go to university and half as likely to be not in education, employment or training compared to all care leavers.

The government does not believe that introducing a national minimum allowance for Staying Put carers is the right way forward. Unlike children in foster care, young people in Staying Put arrangements are adults, and may be in work, or claiming benefits (including housing benefit). These sources of income can be used to contribute to the cost of providing the Staying Put arrangement, in a similar way that young people who are still living at home with their parents may contribute to the costs of running the household. We therefore believe the level of financial support that Staying Put carers receive should be agreed on a case by case basis.

The department is aware of the need to update the Staying Put guidance that was published in 2013 and will endeavour to prioritise this work as soon as possible.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
2nd Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans his Department has to update its guidance entitled Staying put: arrangements for care leavers aged 18 years and above, published on 22 May 2013.

Since its introduction in 2014, the department has provided over £140 million to local authorities to support local implementation of Staying Put, including £33 million in 2020/21 (an increase of £9 million (40%) from 2019/20). This has helped thousands of young people to remain with their former foster carers for longer and make a more gradual transition to independence. Funding for Staying Put for the financial year 2021/22 will be confirmed once the department’s internal Spending Review discussions have concluded.

The latest data – for year ending March 2019 - show that 55% of eligible 18 year olds chose to Stay Put; and 31% of 19 year olds and 21% of 20 year olds were also still living with their former foster carers. Care leavers who Stay Put are twice as likely to go to university and half as likely to be not in education, employment or training compared to all care leavers.

The government does not believe that introducing a national minimum allowance for Staying Put carers is the right way forward. Unlike children in foster care, young people in Staying Put arrangements are adults, and may be in work, or claiming benefits (including housing benefit). These sources of income can be used to contribute to the cost of providing the Staying Put arrangement, in a similar way that young people who are still living at home with their parents may contribute to the costs of running the household. We therefore believe the level of financial support that Staying Put carers receive should be agreed on a case by case basis.

The department is aware of the need to update the Staying Put guidance that was published in 2013 and will endeavour to prioritise this work as soon as possible.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
1st Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the Spending Review 2020, if he will provide more information on how his Department will use the £24 million provided to maintain capacity and expand educational provision in secure children’s homes.

I refer the hon. Member for Hampstead and Kilburn to the answer given on 2 December 2020 to question 121849.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
1st Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the Spending Review 2020, what criteria the Government will use to determine the (a) funding allocated to and (b) success of the Growing Up Well project.

Growing Up Well is a Shared Outcomes Fund project worth £11.8 million over 3 financial years, between 2020/21 and 2022/23. It will identify, and test, data and digital innovations that will improve outcomes for disadvantaged and vulnerable families with children aged 0 to 5.

The project will focus on improving the family user experience of early years services; improving local level professional collaboration and planning around the family and child; and greater alignment of early years objectives and funding across government.

The project is currently in its mobilisation phase. A process and impact evaluation will be commissioned to measure success. The evaluation of the project will inform future policy development.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
1st Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what estimate his Department has made of the proportion of the early years workforce which is aged 23 to 24 years old.

The Survey of Childcare and Early Years Providers (2019) collected data on ages of the early years workforce. This can be accessed here: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/childcare-and-early-years-providers-survey-2019.

Data for early years staff aged 23 to 24 is not available because the data is banded into age groups. However, the unpublished data shows that 4% of staff working in school-based early years settings, 17% of staff working in group-based settings, and 1% of childminders were aged between 21 to 24 years old in 2019.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
1st Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what estimate his Department has made of the effect of the national minimum wage changes due in April 2021 on the cost per hour of delivering childcare.

The government continues to support families with their childcare costs. On 25 November 2020, my right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced a further £44 million investment in the 2021/22 financial year for local authorities to increase hourly rates paid to childcare providers for the government’s free childcare entitlement offers. Further details and information on how this will be distributed will be made available as soon as possible.

We use evidence from the Survey of Childcare and Early Years Providers (SCEYP) to understand the impact the national living wage has on the early years sector. The SCEYP can be accessed here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/providers-finances-survey-of-childcare-and-ey-providers-2019.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
1st Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to his Department’s new Covid Workforce Fund for schools and colleges, whether he plans to make equivalent financial support to help with the cost of staff absences available to registered early year providers.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 7 December 2020 to Questions 122774 and 122775.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
1st Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether the review of children’s social care will be a zero-based review.

The review of children’s social care will take a fundamental look across children’s social care, with the aim of better supporting, protecting, and improving the outcomes of vulnerable children and young people. The urgent local and national response to the COVID-19 outbreak has delayed launching the review, but we are making preparations to launch as soon as possible and will set out further details at that point.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
1st Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to £300 million of funding for new school places for children with special educational needs and disabilities included in the Spending review 2020, what estimate his Department has made of the number of new school places for children with SEND that funding will create; and what proportion of those places will be in mainstream schools.

As announced by my right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, on 25 November 2020, the department will invest £300 million, in the financial year 2021-22, in school places for children with special educational needs and disabilities. This is almost four times as much as the government provided to local authorities in the financial year 2020-21 for this purpose. We estimate this could support the delivery of over 5,000 additional High Needs places, though the figure will vary depending on the type of capital works invested in. Further details on how this funding will be distributed will be announced in due course.

In addition to this, the Spending Review announcement has committed £1.8 billion, in the 2021-22 financial year, for maintaining and improving the condition of the school estate. The majority of condition funding is devolved to local authorities, academy trusts, voluntary aided bodies, and schools, as they are best placed to prioritise investment based on local condition need. We will set out further details of how the funding will be allocated in due course.

1st Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the £1.8 billion for maintaining and improving the condition of school buildings included in the Spending review 2020, how much of that funding will go towards making school buildings more accessible for children with SEND.

As announced by my right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, on 25 November 2020, the department will invest £300 million, in the financial year 2021-22, in school places for children with special educational needs and disabilities. This is almost four times as much as the government provided to local authorities in the financial year 2020-21 for this purpose. We estimate this could support the delivery of over 5,000 additional High Needs places, though the figure will vary depending on the type of capital works invested in. Further details on how this funding will be distributed will be announced in due course.

In addition to this, the Spending Review announcement has committed £1.8 billion, in the 2021-22 financial year, for maintaining and improving the condition of the school estate. The majority of condition funding is devolved to local authorities, academy trusts, voluntary aided bodies, and schools, as they are best placed to prioritise investment based on local condition need. We will set out further details of how the funding will be allocated in due course.

1st Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, pursuant to the Answer of 24 November 2020 to Question 118052, for what reasons the Spending review 2020 did include information on supplementary funding for maintained nursery schools after the 2020/21 academic year.

The government has secured a continuation of around £60 million of supplementary funding for maintained nursery schools (MNS) in the 2021/22 financial year, as part of the 2020 Spending Review. The department continues to consider what is required to ensure a clear, long-term picture of funding for MNS, and will say more about this soon.

The government has already confirmed that up to £23 million of supplementary funding will be provided to local authorities, to enable them to continue protecting the funding of MNS during the summer term in 2021. This provides MNS with certainty about funding for the 2020/21 academic year.

This government remains committed to the long-term funding of MNS, and any reform to the way they are funded will be accompanied by appropriate funding protections.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
1st Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, pursuant to the Answer of 25 November 2020 to Question 118555, what the cost to the public purse was of the (a) 15 hour free early years entitlement for (i) the most disadvantaged two year olds and (ii) parents of three and four year olds and (b) 30 hour early years entitlement for working parents of three and four year olds in each of the last three years.

Details of government spending on the early education entitlements is available in the dedicated school grant allocations tables. These are available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/dedicated-schools-grant-dsg-2020-to-2021; https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/dedicated-schools-grant-dsg-2019-to-2020; and https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/dedicated-schools-grant-dsg-2018-to-2019.

The funding allocations for local authorities are based on actual take up of the entitlement hours.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
1st Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the Spending Review 2020, what (a) specific steps he will take and (b) funding he will allocate to help establish a Flexible Childcare Fund.

The government will establish a £220 million holiday activities and food programme to provide enriching activities and a healthy meal for disadvantaged children in the Easter, summer, and Christmas holidays in 2021. This provides funding up to the end of the 2021/22 financial year and supports our commitment to establish a flexible childcare fund to increase the availability of high quality and affordable flexible childcare.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
1st Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the Spending review 2020, what criteria his Department will use to a) distribute funds under the Data Improvement Project and b) determine the success of funds distributed under the data improvement project.

Data Improvement across Government is a programme comprising of projects involving the Department for Education, Ministry of Justice, Department of Health and Social Care, Home Office, and Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG).

The overarching aim of the programme is to improve the cross-government evidence base and use of data to inform policy decisions and service delivery for children and young people. The amounts for each department have been pre-agreed with Her Majesty’s Treasury as part of the shared outcomes fund bidding process reflecting the specific requirements of their projects.

Several projects are focused on improving Government capability which will be delivered directly by the involved departments. MHCLG is developing an element of the programme to help improve local areas' capability in their use of data and data matching to support vulnerable children and families, and will provide guidance on how funds will be bid for in due course. The programme will be evaluated to assess its impact and to inform future policy development.

27th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department has taken to ensure that Ofsted (a) provided oversight to local authorities in applying the legislative flexibilities provided by the Adoption and Children (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020, and (b) had the requisite resources necessary to do this for all local authorities.

The Adoption and Children (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations (2020) came into force on 24 April 2020 and expired on 25 September 2020. Where local authorities deemed it appropriate to make use of these flexibilities, taking account of all available information, every decision had to be agreed at senior manager level and recorded. This includes decisions taken around dealing with complaints. We set guidance that flexibilities should only be used when absolutely necessary and must be consistent with the overarching safeguarding and welfare duties that remain in place.

As the inspector of children’s services, Ofsted is expected to take note of any use of these flexibilities, and local authorities should be ready to explain why their use was necessary. As it stands, Ofsted is conducting assurance visits, determined using a risk-based approach, to ensure that children’s safety is a priority. Ofsted is arranging visits based on the most recent inspection judgements, other information it holds about the provider or local authority, the amount of time since the last inspection and, where appropriate, whether the provider is newly registered and therefore has not yet been inspected.

Our approach to monitoring the regulations was based on a triangulation of information gathered from a variety of sources, including local authorities, charities and key partners including Ofsted. The monitoring information is published within the consultation document on children’s social care and is available here: https://consult.education.gov.uk/children2019s-social-care-covid-19-co-ordination-unit/changes-to-the-adoption-and-children-regulations-c/.

We are clear that the use of virtual visits should be the exception. Our children’s social care guidance document has some advice on virtual visits: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-childrens-social-care-services/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-local-authorities-on-childrens-social-care. It advises that virtual visits can be used as a result of public health advice or when it is not reasonably practicable to have a face to face visit relating to the incidence or transmission of COVID-19. Considerations should also be given to the wishes of the children and young people affected and to the ability of the child or young person to engage in a virtual visit due to reasons including their age or disability. Wherever possible, visits should be held face to face.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
27th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what involvement his Department had in decisions taken by Ofsted to request information regarding the use legislative flexibilities provided by the Adoption and Children (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 from certain local authorities.

The Adoption and Children (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations (2020) came into force on 24 April 2020 and expired on 25 September 2020. Where local authorities deemed it appropriate to make use of these flexibilities, taking account of all available information, every decision had to be agreed at senior manager level and recorded. This includes decisions taken around dealing with complaints. We set guidance that flexibilities should only be used when absolutely necessary and must be consistent with the overarching safeguarding and welfare duties that remain in place.

As the inspector of children’s services, Ofsted is expected to take note of any use of these flexibilities, and local authorities should be ready to explain why their use was necessary. As it stands, Ofsted is conducting assurance visits, determined using a risk-based approach, to ensure that children’s safety is a priority. Ofsted is arranging visits based on the most recent inspection judgements, other information it holds about the provider or local authority, the amount of time since the last inspection and, where appropriate, whether the provider is newly registered and therefore has not yet been inspected.

Our approach to monitoring the regulations was based on a triangulation of information gathered from a variety of sources, including local authorities, charities and key partners including Ofsted. The monitoring information is published within the consultation document on children’s social care and is available here: https://consult.education.gov.uk/children2019s-social-care-covid-19-co-ordination-unit/changes-to-the-adoption-and-children-regulations-c/.

We are clear that the use of virtual visits should be the exception. Our children’s social care guidance document has some advice on virtual visits: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-childrens-social-care-services/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-local-authorities-on-childrens-social-care. It advises that virtual visits can be used as a result of public health advice or when it is not reasonably practicable to have a face to face visit relating to the incidence or transmission of COVID-19. Considerations should also be given to the wishes of the children and young people affected and to the ability of the child or young person to engage in a virtual visit due to reasons including their age or disability. Wherever possible, visits should be held face to face.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
27th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department took to ensure that local authorities did not use the Adoption and Children (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 to avoid or delay dealing with complaints.

The Adoption and Children (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations (2020) came into force on 24 April 2020 and expired on 25 September 2020. Where local authorities deemed it appropriate to make use of these flexibilities, taking account of all available information, every decision had to be agreed at senior manager level and recorded. This includes decisions taken around dealing with complaints. We set guidance that flexibilities should only be used when absolutely necessary and must be consistent with the overarching safeguarding and welfare duties that remain in place.

As the inspector of children’s services, Ofsted is expected to take note of any use of these flexibilities, and local authorities should be ready to explain why their use was necessary. As it stands, Ofsted is conducting assurance visits, determined using a risk-based approach, to ensure that children’s safety is a priority. Ofsted is arranging visits based on the most recent inspection judgements, other information it holds about the provider or local authority, the amount of time since the last inspection and, where appropriate, whether the provider is newly registered and therefore has not yet been inspected.

Our approach to monitoring the regulations was based on a triangulation of information gathered from a variety of sources, including local authorities, charities and key partners including Ofsted. The monitoring information is published within the consultation document on children’s social care and is available here: https://consult.education.gov.uk/children2019s-social-care-covid-19-co-ordination-unit/changes-to-the-adoption-and-children-regulations-c/.

We are clear that the use of virtual visits should be the exception. Our children’s social care guidance document has some advice on virtual visits: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-childrens-social-care-services/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-local-authorities-on-childrens-social-care. It advises that virtual visits can be used as a result of public health advice or when it is not reasonably practicable to have a face to face visit relating to the incidence or transmission of COVID-19. Considerations should also be given to the wishes of the children and young people affected and to the ability of the child or young person to engage in a virtual visit due to reasons including their age or disability. Wherever possible, visits should be held face to face.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
27th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department took to ensure that remote and virtual visits by social workers to (a) children’s homes and (b) other children’s care placement settings are adequate to understanding the potential issues facing children in care and meet the needs set out in their Education, Care and Health plans.

The Adoption and Children (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations (2020) came into force on 24 April 2020 and expired on 25 September 2020. Where local authorities deemed it appropriate to make use of these flexibilities, taking account of all available information, every decision had to be agreed at senior manager level and recorded. This includes decisions taken around dealing with complaints. We set guidance that flexibilities should only be used when absolutely necessary and must be consistent with the overarching safeguarding and welfare duties that remain in place.

As the inspector of children’s services, Ofsted is expected to take note of any use of these flexibilities, and local authorities should be ready to explain why their use was necessary. As it stands, Ofsted is conducting assurance visits, determined using a risk-based approach, to ensure that children’s safety is a priority. Ofsted is arranging visits based on the most recent inspection judgements, other information it holds about the provider or local authority, the amount of time since the last inspection and, where appropriate, whether the provider is newly registered and therefore has not yet been inspected.

Our approach to monitoring the regulations was based on a triangulation of information gathered from a variety of sources, including local authorities, charities and key partners including Ofsted. The monitoring information is published within the consultation document on children’s social care and is available here: https://consult.education.gov.uk/children2019s-social-care-covid-19-co-ordination-unit/changes-to-the-adoption-and-children-regulations-c/.

We are clear that the use of virtual visits should be the exception. Our children’s social care guidance document has some advice on virtual visits: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-childrens-social-care-services/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-local-authorities-on-childrens-social-care. It advises that virtual visits can be used as a result of public health advice or when it is not reasonably practicable to have a face to face visit relating to the incidence or transmission of COVID-19. Considerations should also be given to the wishes of the children and young people affected and to the ability of the child or young person to engage in a virtual visit due to reasons including their age or disability. Wherever possible, visits should be held face to face.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
27th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment his Department has made of the effectiveness of distribution of funding to different local authorities to meet social care need in those areas.

The Department for Education works closely with local authorities and the sector to assess the impact of a variety of factors on children’s services, including funding and any increases in demand.

Local authority funding is distributed using a formula based on population and deprivation, as well as the varying cost of delivering services across the country.

The government is committed to reform of the local government finance system and will continue to work with the sector to ensure that the system supports local authorities to effectively deliver their services.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
27th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what estimate his Department has made of the average length of time that children have spent in a temporary foster placements in each month of the last five years.

The information requested is not held centrally. Short breaks for children can be provided by local authorities under either section 17 or section 20 of the Children Act (1989). Whilst information on children receiving services is reported in the children in need census, the detail of the specific service or support provided to the child is not collected.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
23rd Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment his Department has made of the financial impact on early years providers of his Department's plans to base early years entitlement funding for the spring term 2021 on the January 2021 census.

I refer the hon. Member for Hampstead and Kilburn to the answer I gave on 5 October 2020, to question 97657.

Further details of our plans for funding in the spring term 2021 will be announced as soon as possible.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
23rd Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, when he plans to publish further details on the expanded Holiday Activities and Food programme.

From 2021, the Holiday Activities and Food programme will cover the Easter, summer and Christmas school holidays at a cost of up to £220 million. It will be available to children in every local authority in England, building on previous programmes – including this summer, which supported around 50,000 children across 17 local authorities.

On 23 November, we wrote to all local authorities to provide further information on the programme. We will continue to work closely with them over the coming months and we will be sharing case studies and best practice from the first 3 years of our programme.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
23rd Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how may and what proportion of looked after children have gone missing or away from their placement without authorisation (a) in the year ending 31 March 2020 and (b)in each of the previous four years.

The latest figures on the numbers of looked after children going missing or away from their placement in England are published in the statistical release “Children Looked after in England including adoptions 2018-19: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/children-looked-after-in-england-including-adoption-2018-to-2019”. Figures for the reporting year ending 31 March 2020 will be published in December 2020.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
20th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent estimate he has made of the number of children using (a) the 15 hour free early years entitlement for (i) the most disadvantaged two year olds and (ii) parents of three and four year olds and (b) the 30 hour early years entitlement for working parents of three and four year olds in each of the four most recent weeks for which data is available.

The government is planning to spend more than £3.6 billion on early education entitlements in 2020-21. Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, take up of the entitlements was positive with near universal take up of the 15 hours for all 3 and 4 year olds (91% of 3 year olds and 94% of 4 year olds (including reception)) in January 2020.

The department collects data about take up of the entitlements on an annual basis through the Early Years Census. These annual reports are published here: https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/find-statistics/education-provision-children-under-5. The next census is due to take place in January 2021.

At the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, the department introduced weekly data collection from local authorities to record the number of pre-school aged children attending childcare. This data is published on a weekly basis and the reports are available at: https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/find-statistics/attendance-in-education-and-early-years-settings-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak. In order to minimise the administrative burden on local government during the COVID-19 outbreak, this weekly data collection does not distinguish attendance by age of child or between children taking up entitlements and children whose parents have paid for a childcare place.

It was estimated that 801,000 children were attending early years childcare settings on 12 November 2020, around 61% of the number of children who usually attend childcare in term time. On a typical day in the autumn term attendance is expected to be around 887,000, due to different and part-time patterns of childcare during the week. It is therefore estimated that the 801,000 children currently attending early years settings is approximately 90% of the usual daily level.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
20th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent estimate he has made of the number of children with SEND in England who qualify for free school meals; and what steps his Department is taking to address the specific needs of those people.

The department collects and publishes information on the numbers of children with special educational needs (SEN), which covers all types of SEN. We do not collect data on which pupils have a disability. SEN is the main focus of our data collection and dissemination in relation to children and young people, as our policy is to focus efforts on the impact of conditions (some of which are disabilities) on the educational experience of the individual and how barriers to their learning and participation in education can be removed.

The number of children with SEN in England who qualify for free school meals (FSM) is provided to the department in the school census. The most recent figures are for January 2020 and can be found in the publication ‘SEN in England January 2020’, available at: https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/find-statistics/special-educational-needs-in-england.

The continuing provision of FSM to children from households that are out of work or on low incomes is of the utmost importance to the government. FSM are available to families who are in receipt of one or more of the eligible income-related benefits. Further information on the eligibility criteria is available at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/700139/Free_school_meals_guidance_Apr18.pdf.

We are supporting around 1.4 million of the most disadvantaged children through benefits-related FSM, saving families around £400 a year for each child.

During the current COVID-19 outbreak, schools should work with their existing suppliers to support eligible pupils who need to be at home due to self-isolation through food parcels should the need arise. Further guidance is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-free-school-meals-guidance/covid-19-free-school-meals-guidance-for-schools.

Building on the significant support given to the most vulnerable during the COVID-19 outbreak, the government has announced a new £170 million Covid Winter Grant Scheme will be run by councils in England. The funding will be ring-fenced, with at least 80% earmarked to support children and families with food and other essential items, and will cover the period to the end of March 2021.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
20th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will publish all (a) correspondence and (b) minutes including attendees of meetings between (i) officials and (ii) Ministers from his Department and the National SEND Reference Group since that group formed.

The SEND Reference Group is an external body, organised and managed by the National Association for Special Educational Needs (nasen) so that special schools, colleges and alternative provision could report experiences and issues arising from COVID-19 to the department.

In establishing the group, nasen invited a range of system leaders intended to represent the breadth and diversity of the specialist sector, including across the regions and settings serving different pupil populations.

Minutes of the group’s meetings are available on request from nasen, together with further information on the group at: https://nasen.org.uk/about-nasen/national-send-reference-group.html.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
20th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what involvement his Department had with (a) setting the terms of reference and (b) recruiting members of the National SEND Reference Group.

The SEND Reference Group is an external body, organised and managed by the National Association for Special Educational Needs (nasen) so that special schools, colleges and alternative provision could report experiences and issues arising from COVID-19 to the department.

In establishing the group, nasen invited a range of system leaders intended to represent the breadth and diversity of the specialist sector, including across the regions and settings serving different pupil populations.

Minutes of the group’s meetings are available on request from nasen, together with further information on the group at: https://nasen.org.uk/about-nasen/national-send-reference-group.html.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether he plans to end the temporary extension of free school meals eligibility to no recourse to public funds groups.

We are working with departments across government to evaluate access to free school meals for families with no recourse to public funds. In the meantime, the extension of eligibility will continue with the current income threshold until a decision on long-term eligibility is made.

At present, data is not available regarding the take up of free school meals by no recourse to public funds groups during the temporary extension.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many children the Government has supported through the temporary extension of free school meals eligibility to no recourse to public funds groups.

We are working with departments across government to evaluate access to free school meals for families with no recourse to public funds. In the meantime, the extension of eligibility will continue with the current income threshold until a decision on long-term eligibility is made.

At present, data is not available regarding the take up of free school meals by no recourse to public funds groups during the temporary extension.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the potential rise in the level of demand for children’s services over the Christmas 2020 period.

The department has been working closely with local authorities to assess the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on children’s services, including any increases in demand, setting up dedicated regional teams that are in frequent contact.

We are monitoring referrals to children’s services via our regional teams and the Vulnerable Children and Young People survey, which collects data fortnightly from local authorities in England. The latest release is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/vulnerable-children-and-young-people-survey.

Referrals to children’s social care services data do not show spikes in referrals in December in previous years. The data is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/statistics-children-in-need.

The government has provided £4.6 billion of additional funding to support local authorities in meeting COVID-19 related pressures, including in children’s services, and we will continue to work closely with local authorities and monitor demand over the Christmas 2020 period.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether he plans to provide maintained nursery schools with a long-term funding solution based on up-to-date assessments of need.

Maintained nursery schools are an important part of the early years sector and provide valuable services, especially in disadvantaged areas. The government announced on 24 August that up to £23 million of supplementary funding will be provided to local authorities, to enable them to continue protecting the funding of maintained nursery schools during the summer term in 2021. This provides maintained nursery schools with certainty about funding for the 2020/21 academic year.

What happens after the 2020/21 academic year will be determined by the Spending Review, in the context of our priorities across early years as a whole.

This government remains committed to the long-term funding of maintained nursery schools, and any reform to the way they are funded will be accompanied by appropriate funding protections.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many digital devices tailored to children with special educational needs and disabilities his Department has distributed for remote learning since March 2020.

The Department has invested over £195 million to support remote education and access to online social care. This includes delivering over 220,000 laptops and tablets and over 50,000 4G wireless routers during the summer term. The Department is adding to this support by making over 340,000 additional laptops and tablets available this term to support disadvantaged children in Year 3 to 11 whose face to face education may be disrupted. Disadvantaged children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) are included within this offer.

All local authority maintained schools and academy trusts that are required to close can apply for laptops and tablets which they can lend to children in Years 3 to 11.

The Department has also invested a total of £37.3 million in the Family Fund to support over 75,000 families on low incomes raising children with disabilities or serious illnesses. This includes £10 million to specifically address needs arising from the outbreak of COVID-19.

The Department has made £4.84 million available for Oak National Academy to provide video lessons in a broad range of subjects for Reception up to Year 11. This includes specialist content for pupils with SEND.

19th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans he has to include racial disparity within the terms of reference for the forthcoming review of children’s social care in England.

The review is a fundamental part of the government’s manifesto. The urgent local and national response to the COVID-19 outbreak has delayed the launch of the Review of Children’s Social Care, but the department is making preparations to launch as soon as possible and will set out further details at that point. The review will be bold, broad and independently led, taking a fundamental look across children’s social care, with the aim of better supporting, protecting and improving the outcomes of vulnerable children and young people.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will publish the terms of reference for the upcoming review of children’s social care in England.

The review is a fundamental part of the government’s manifesto. The urgent local and national response to the COVID-19 outbreak has delayed the launch of the Review of Children’s Social Care, but the department is making preparations to launch as soon as possible and will set out further details at that point. The review will be bold, broad and independently led, taking a fundamental look across children’s social care, with the aim of better supporting, protecting and improving the outcomes of vulnerable children and young people.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, when he plans to commence the review of children’s social care in England.

The review is a fundamental part of the government’s manifesto. The urgent local and national response to the COVID-19 outbreak has delayed the launch of the Review of Children’s Social Care, but the department is making preparations to launch as soon as possible and will set out further details at that point. The review will be bold, broad and independently led, taking a fundamental look across children’s social care, with the aim of better supporting, protecting and improving the outcomes of vulnerable children and young people.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans his Department has to (a) provide additional social care support for care leavers and (b) integrate the support his Department provides to care leavers with other Government support programmes for that group.

The department is committed to improving the life chances of care leavers and it is taking action to improve the support they receive from children’s social care and across government.

Since 2014, local authorities have been required to support young people to remain with their former foster carers up to age 21, in a Staying Put arrangement. The department has provided over £140 million to local authorities to implement Staying Put, including £33 million this year.

We are piloting Staying Close in 8 local areas which provides an enhanced support package for those leaving residential care, including move-on accommodation and a package of practical and emotional support. We are committed to rolling out Staying Close nationally.

In 2018, we also extended support, from a Personal Adviser, to all care leavers to age 25.

Since 2018, we have funded 47 local authorities to fund specialist posts to provide intensive support to care leavers who are most at risk of homelessness and rough sleeping. To date, we have funded £6 million.

In 2018, we commissioned 3 Care Leavers Social Impact Bond programmes to support care leavers aged 16 to 25 secure sustainable education, employment and training.

We have established the Civil Service care leaver internship scheme, which provides paid internships for care leavers, and are looking to provide similar opportunities in other large public sector employers, such as the NHS, police and the fire service. We also launched the care leaver covenant for public, private and voluntary sectors to show their commitment to care leavers through providing concrete offers of support.

To support local authorities to improve their leaving care services, we appointed a national adviser for care leavers, Mark Riddell MBE, who recently published his second report on examples of best practice as well as innovative approaches that local authorities have used to support care leavers during COVID-19.

In October 2019, my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, announced the establishment of a new Care Leavers Ministerial Board, bringing together Ministers from across government to consider what more we can all do to help care leavers succeed to adulthood.

Alongside the Board, the department works closely across government on policies that impact on care leavers’ lives, for example, the Department for Work and Pension’s recent budget announcement that care leavers would be eligible for the higher rate of Housing Benefit to age 25.

Education support for Looked After Children is important to them succeeding in the longer term. Since 2014, Virtual School Heads have made a significant impact in bringing expert leadership to the system that has seen a reduction in permanent exclusions and absenteeism (now the same or better than all other children and significantly better than children in need). In 2018, Looked After Children had the same persistent absence rates as all children (10.9%), whilst permanent exclusion rates for them are now lower than all children (0.05% compared to 0.1%).

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, for what reason black children are disproportionately represented in the care system.

The Main report: children looked after in England including adoption 2018 to 2019 notes that as of the 31 March 2019 there were 78,150 children looked after in England. The majority are of white ethnicity (74%). 10% were of mixed ethnicity and 8% were of Black or Black British ethnicity. Since 2015, the proportion of children looked after of white ethnicity has decreased steadily from 77%. It is likely this slight change is due to the broadly non-white make up of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children, a group which has recently grown in number: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/850306/Children_looked_after_in_England_2019_Text.pdf.

As of 31 March 2019 there were 5,070 unaccompanied asylum-seeking children looked after by local authorities in England, up 11% from 4,480 at 31 March 2018. In March 2019, unaccompanied asylum-seeking children represented 6% of all looked after children in England.

Factors which drive children’s social care activity are complex and the department is keen to understand this in more depth.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what the process was for (a) establishing the terms of reference and (b) recruiting members for the National SEND Reference Group; and who participated in that process.

The National SEND Reference Group is an external body, organised and managed by the National Association for Special Educational Needs (nasen). It was set up in April 2020 so that special schools, colleges and alternative provision could report experiences and issues arising from COVID-19 to the department. Officials attend the group’s meetings as part of wider stakeholder engagement. In establishing the group, nasen invited a range of system leaders intended to represent the breadth and diversity of the specialist sector, including across the regions and settings serving different pupil populations.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what estimate his Department has made of the potential effect of occupancy levels in early years settings in the January census on early entitlements for the spring term.

I refer the hon. Member for Hampstead and Kilburn to the answer I gave on 5 October 2020 to question 97657.

Further details of our plans for funding in the spring term 2021 will be announced as soon as possible.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
17th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what (a) support and (b) funding is available for local authorities to support parents, relevant therapists and educators for the effective delivery of vulnerable children’s education, health and care plans in the home.

It remains very important for children and young people to attend their education setting, to support their education and wellbeing. There are, however, a small number of children and young people who are clinically extremely vulnerable who are advised to stay at home, except for specific purposes. There will also be some children and young people who are self-isolating and, therefore, not able to attend their education setting.

Where attendance would be contrary to government guidance or legislation on the COVID-19 outbreak, settings have a duty to provide remote education for state-funded, school-age children. We have worked with schools to co-design the remote education service for schools, further education providers and teachers. In addition, the Oak National Academy provides free video lessons across a broad range of subjects, including specialist content for pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

The department has invested over £195 million to support remote education and access to online social care, with over 340,000 laptops and tablets being made available this term to support disadvantaged children. This supplements over 220,000 laptops and tablets and over 50,000 4G wireless routers already delivered during the summer term.

Those providing care or support to meet a child or young person’s everyday needs can also continue to visit them in their home, ensuring they follow social distancing guidance where close or personal contact is not required. This includes for the delivery of therapies that would normally be provided in an education setting. NHS England’s medical directorate are the professional lead for therapists and the department continues to work closely with them and Public Health England to ensure that the needs of children with SEND are appropriately prioritised.

Where a child who is clinically extremely vulnerable has an Education, Health and Care Plan, parents, education settings, health professionals and local authorities should work together to agree the best arrangement for that individual child and their family to ensure that they continue to receive the support they need. The department engages regularly with local authority SEND leads to provide support and challenge, including around undertaking their statutory duties where there are specific concerns that children are not in their usual setting.

Local authorities have been allocated a further £4.6 billion to help their communities tackle the COVID-19 outbreak. This funding is un-ringfenced, recognising local authorities are best placed to decide how to meet the major COVID-19 outbreak service pressures in their local area, including support to children’s services.

We will also be investing £730 million into high needs during the 2021/22 financial year, which represents a 10% increase, coming on top of the additional £780 million invested during the 2020/21 financial year. This means the high needs block will have grown by over £1.5 billion, or nearly a quarter, in just two years. This additional investment is taking the overall budget to over £8 billion during the next financial year and will go directly to local authorities to support children and young people with the most complex SEND.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
17th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what funding the Government has made available to ensure that (a) children without SEN who have to self-isolate and (b) vulnerable children that are shielding have adequate access to the equipment required for remote learning; and what recent assessment he has made of the adequacy of that funding.

The Department is continuing to do everything in its power to ensure that children and young people can continue to attend school and college safely, as this is the best place for them to be for their education, development and wellbeing. The Department recognises that, for some pupils, remote education will need to be an essential component in the delivery of the school curriculum, alongside on-site teaching.

The Department set out expectations for remote education provision in schools in its full opening guidance published in July 2020: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/guidance-for-full-opening-schools.

It also published similar guidance for further education (FE) colleges in August 2020: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-maintaining-further-education-provision/what-fe-colleges-and-providers-will-need-to-do-from-the-start-of-the-2020-autumn-term.

The Department also wants to make clear that schools have a duty to provide remote education for state funded, school age pupils who are unable to attend school due to COVID-19 in line with guidance and the law. My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education gave a Direction which places an express legal duty on schools to provide remote education in these circumstances which has been in effect since 22 October 2020.

If it has been confirmed by their doctor that a pupil is clinically extremely vulnerable, they are currently advised not to attend school. In these situations, the Department expects schools to be able to offer clinically extremely vulnerable children immediate access to remote education, in line with guidance and the law.

On 1 October 2020, the Department announced a further remote education support package, to help schools and FE colleges meet the remote education expectations set out in guidance. The support package includes access to the right technology to deliver remote education, peer to peer training and guidance on how to use this effectively in the short and long term, and practical tools, good practice guidance and school-led webinars to support effective delivery of the curriculum.

Schools will also be able to support disadvantaged children across all year groups who might be shielding at home on official or medical advice due to them, or a member of their household, being clinically extremely vulnerable. As part of over £195 million invested to support remote education and access to online social care, the Department is making over 340,000 laptops and tablets available this term to support disadvantaged children in Years 3 to 11 whose face to face education may be disrupted. This supplements over 220,000 laptops and tablets and over 50,000 4G wireless routers, which have already been delivered during the summer term. This represents an injection of over 500,000 laptops and tablets by the end of the year.

Schools will also be able to support disadvantaged pupils across all year groups who might be shielding at home on official or medical advice due to them or a member of their household being clinically extremely vulnerable.

The Department wants to ensure that all vulnerable children and young people, as far as possible, have access to the same remote education support and provision as their peers. The guidance sets out steps that schools should take to support vulnerable children or young people where they are having to self-isolate, including regular contact with that individual, contact with their social worker if they have one, checking whether they are able to access remote education, to support them access it, and to regularly check that they are doing so.

Low-income families of children and young people with disabilities or who are seriously ill who may require specialist software or hardware devices to support their needs can apply to the Family Fund. The Department has provided the Family Fund, with £37 million in the 2020-21 financial year, of which £10 million is specifically intended to help support home education needs.

Schools have continued to receive their core funding allocations throughout the COVID-19 outbreak. Following last year’s Spending Round, school budgets are rising by £2.6 billion in the 2020-21 financial year, £4.8 billion in 2021-22 and £7.1 billion in 2022-23, compared to the 2019-20 financial year. This includes an additional £780 million this year and £730 million next year for high needs – taking total high needs funding to over £8 billion. As stated in the Department’s guidance, schools should use their existing resources when making arrangements to support pupils this term.

17th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, pursuant to the Answer of 23 September 2020 to Question 91680, what plans his Department has to supply private, voluntary and independent early years providers with covid-19 home testing kits.

Although the department does not supply private, voluntary, and independent early years providers with home tests, all essential workers continue to have access to priority testing via the online booking portal. This applies to all education and childcare workers, including those working in early years settings.

Testing capacity is the highest it has ever been. The UK’s daily COVID-19 testing capacity passed the 500,000 mark on Saturday 31 October 2020, and testing capacity continues to expand to help meet demand over the winter period.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
17th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what estimate his Department has made of the financial effect on early years providers of basing early entitlements for the spring term 2021 on current occupancy.

I refer the hon. Member for Hampstead and Kilburn to the answer I gave on 5 October 2020, to Question 97657.

Further details of our plans for funding in the 2021 spring term will be announced as soon as possible.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
17th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that local authorities are complying with Government guidance to pass on early entitlement funding to childcare providers based on pre-covid occupancy levels.

Local authorities have a legal duty to ensure there are sufficient childcare places in their area.

Our guidance makes clear how we expect local authorities to fund early years entitlement places during the COVID-19 outbreak. This guidance is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/use-of-free-early-education-entitlements-funding-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/use-of-free-early-education-entitlements-funding-during-coronavirus-covid-19. Local authorities should only take a different approach from that set out in guidance if they have good reasons for doing so and should communicate this clearly to their providers.

Through our regular contacts, it is apparent that the vast majority of local authorities have been compliant with our funding guidance throughout the COVID-19 outbreak.

Where concerns about funding arrangements have been raised through our regular contacts with early years sector stakeholders, officials have engaged with the relevant authorities in order to clarify and reinforce the government’s expectations regarding funding, as set out in our guidance.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
17th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to Government guidance that local authorities should continue to fund early years settings who are being forced to close for public health reasons during the autumn term 2020, what the definition is of public health reasons; and whether a setting that is partially closed is eligible for that funding.

As the government’s guidance on the use of free early education entitlements during the COVID-19 outbreak sets out, local authorities should continue to fund providers which have been advised to close, or left with no option but to close, due to public health reasons. This guidance is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/use-of-free-early-education-entitlements-funding-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/use-of-free-early-education-entitlements-funding-during-coronavirus-covid-19.

The provision around ‘public health reasons’ is intended to ensure that providers impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak continue to be funded if they are not able to operate as normal. This might be because they have had a positive test or tests for COVID-19 within their setting, or because a critical mass of children for whom they care need to self-isolate, and it is not financially viable for them to open.

Settings that are partially open but not able to operate as normal owing to public health reasons fall within the scope of eligibility. Local authorities should not fund providers which are closed without public health reasons.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
3rd Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether theatrical and music schools in England will be permitted to remain open during the period of the new national covid-19 lockdown restrictions from 5 November 2020.

On Saturday 31 October 2020, my right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister, announced new national restrictions from Thursday 5 November until Wednesday 2 December, to control the spread of COVID-19. On 4 November, the Department for Education published guidance for education and childcare settings on the impact of these restrictions. The guidance can be found through the following link: www.gov.uk/guidance/education-and-childcare-settings-new-national-restrictions-from-5-november-2020.

Schools that provide a full-time education should continue to remain open for all children and young people, as they have since the start of the autumn term for the duration of the national restrictions. This includes schools that specialise in music and/or performing arts, such as Tring Park School for the Performing Arts in Hertfordshire, or the BRIT School for Performing Arts and Technology in Croydon. The Department guidance makes clear that music, dance and drama can be undertaken in school, so long as safety precautions are undertaken.

Where educational provision is taking place outside of school, this provision should only operate where it is reasonably necessary to enable parents to work, search for work, or attend education or training, or where the provision is used for the purposes of respite care, including for vulnerable children. This includes provision by supplementary schools offering music or performing arts activities for children on a part-time basis.

Out-of-school activities that are primarily used by home educating parents as part of their arrangements for their child to receive a suitable full-time education (which can include supplementary schools, tuition centres or private tutors) may also continue to operate. All other out of school activities, not being primarily used by parents for these purposes, should close for face to face provision, but can offer remote education for the duration of the national restrictions.

2nd Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether wraparound childcare is permitted to remain open under the November 2020 national lockdown restrictions.

As outlined in the guidance on new national restrictions, registered childcare and other childcare activities (including wraparound care) will be able to remain open under the national restrictions coming into effect from 5 November, where this is reasonably necessary to enable parents to work, seek work, attend education or training, or for the purposes of respite care. Some youth support services, including one-to-one youth work and support groups, may also continue to operate. The guidance is available here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/new-national-restrictions-from-5-november#childcare-and-childrens-activities.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
2nd Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether private (a) toddler groups, (b) singing groups and (c) other educational classes for children under the age of five can continue to take place under the new national covid-19 lockdown restrictions to be applied from 5 November 2020.

Support groups, such as for breastfeeding, postnatal, and baby and toddler groups, operating in:

When national restrictions apply, in determining the limit of 15 participants, no account is to be taken of any child who is below the age of 5.

Informal groups, such as those organised by a parent, need to comply with the gathering and household mixing rules for the relevant local alert level, or in the case of national restrictions.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
2nd Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of (a) banning or (b) introducing a minimum standard of care quality required for the placement of children in care in unregulated care settings.

Children in care and care leavers are some of the most vulnerable children and young people in society, so we must do all that we can to ensure that they have access to suitable, safe and secure accommodation that meets their needs and keeps them safe. While most children in care are placed in foster care or children’s homes, independent and semi-independent provision (often referred to as unregulated) can offer a place to live with more independence, and when combined with the right level of high quality support, to meet the needs of the older children placed there, can play a vital role in the care system. However, too often we find that children are placed in this accommodation when it does not meet their needs or keep them safe. That is why we have consulted on an ambitious programme of reform to drive up quality and ensure that placements are appropriate. The consultation document is available here: https://consult.education.gov.uk/unregulated-provision/unregulated-provision-children-in-care/supporting_documents/Unregulated%20consultation%20FINAL%20link.pdf.

My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, made clear when he wrote to all local authorities last year that these settings are simply not appropriate for children under the age of 16, which is why we have consulted on banning the placement of under 16s in independent and semi-independent settings.

Through the consultation we made clear that, while many independent and semi-independent settings were good, and provided high quality accommodation to meet the needs of older children, this was too inconsistent. That is why we consulted on introducing mandatory national standards for this provision, and whether these should be overseen and enforced by local authorities or by Ofsted.

Our consultation on these issues received a strong response from the sector, and from the care-experienced young people we spoke to. We are now considering this input, with a view to publishing the government’s response to the consultation, including next steps, in due course.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
30th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will make it his policy to provide (a) therapeutic and (b) other support to adoptive families through the Adoption Support Fund on a long-term basis.

Improving adoption, including adoption support, is a manifesto commitment of this government.

The Adoption Support Fund provides funds to local authorities and regional adoption agencies to pay for essential therapeutic services for children who have left the care system either through adoption or special guardianship order. Since its launch in 2015, the Adoption Support Fund has approved almost £175 million to deliver support to over 60,000 families. The Adoption Support Fund COVID-19 Scheme has provided over £6 million to support up to 61,000 families to meet needs arising from the COVID-19 outbreak.

On 17 July, my right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, announced the 2020 Comprehensive Spending Review, which will set out the government’s spending plans for the next 3 years. We will consider future funding and scope for the Adoption Support Fund as part of the Comprehensive Spending Review discussions.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
30th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, on what date he became aware that not all of the responses to his Department’s consultation on Changes to the adoption and children regulations: coronavirus (COVID-19) had been counted and represented in the consultation outcome document his Department published on 28 August.

On 24 April 2020, the Adoption and Children Coronavirus (Amendment) Regulations 2020 were introduced to provide local authorities and children’s social care providers with temporary flexibilities to support them to focus on core safeguarding duties during the COVID-19 outbreak. The regulations lapsed on 25 September 2020.

Between 16 July and 5 August 2020, we sought views on those regulations that the government proposed should lapse and those that may be extended for continued use to 31 March 2021. The majority of responses were in favour of extending individual regulations on medical reports, virtual visits, and Ofsted inspections and all other temporary flexibilities should lapse.

Departmental officials informed me on 8 September 2020 that we needed to update our consultation response to include all emailed responses against all questions in addition to responses received directly through our consultation website.

The respondents defined as campaign responses in this consultation disclosed that they were part of a campaign and all responses were then included in the results. Respondents indicated how they would like their response to be counted (as an individual or as an organisation). Where respondents identified that they were happy to be made public, they have been listed in the consultation response.

Please see the attached table for the breakdown of types of respondents to the proposal to extend regulations on the frequency of children’s social care inspections.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
30th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the consultation on Changes to the adoption and children regulations: coronavirus (COVID-19), how his Department defines campaign response when considering submissions to a public consultation; and if he will provide the list of respondents who indicated that they represented an organisation in their response that consultation who were subsequently counted as an individual response in the outcome document.

On 24 April 2020, the Adoption and Children Coronavirus (Amendment) Regulations 2020 were introduced to provide local authorities and children’s social care providers with temporary flexibilities to support them to focus on core safeguarding duties during the COVID-19 outbreak. The regulations lapsed on 25 September 2020.

Between 16 July and 5 August 2020, we sought views on those regulations that the government proposed should lapse and those that may be extended for continued use to 31 March 2021. The majority of responses were in favour of extending individual regulations on medical reports, virtual visits, and Ofsted inspections and all other temporary flexibilities should lapse.

Departmental officials informed me on 8 September 2020 that we needed to update our consultation response to include all emailed responses against all questions in addition to responses received directly through our consultation website.

The respondents defined as campaign responses in this consultation disclosed that they were part of a campaign and all responses were then included in the results. Respondents indicated how they would like their response to be counted (as an individual or as an organisation). Where respondents identified that they were happy to be made public, they have been listed in the consultation response.

Please see the attached table for the breakdown of types of respondents to the proposal to extend regulations on the frequency of children’s social care inspections.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
30th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference the consultation on Changes to the adoption and children regulations: coronavirus (COVID-19), if he will provide a breakdown of the types of respondents who (a) agreed, (b) disagreed and (c) neither agreed nor disagreed to the proposal to extend regulations on the frequency of children’s care inspections using the six respondent categories provided in the document.

On 24 April 2020, the Adoption and Children Coronavirus (Amendment) Regulations 2020 were introduced to provide local authorities and children’s social care providers with temporary flexibilities to support them to focus on core safeguarding duties during the COVID-19 outbreak. The regulations lapsed on 25 September 2020.

Between 16 July and 5 August 2020, we sought views on those regulations that the government proposed should lapse and those that may be extended for continued use to 31 March 2021. The majority of responses were in favour of extending individual regulations on medical reports, virtual visits, and Ofsted inspections and all other temporary flexibilities should lapse.

Departmental officials informed me on 8 September 2020 that we needed to update our consultation response to include all emailed responses against all questions in addition to responses received directly through our consultation website.

The respondents defined as campaign responses in this consultation disclosed that they were part of a campaign and all responses were then included in the results. Respondents indicated how they would like their response to be counted (as an individual or as an organisation). Where respondents identified that they were happy to be made public, they have been listed in the consultation response.

Please see the attached table for the breakdown of types of respondents to the proposal to extend regulations on the frequency of children’s social care inspections.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
30th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to encourage more people from BAME backgrounds to consider adopting children; and what steps he is taking to reduce delays for prospective adopters from BAME backgrounds at the approval and matching stages of the adoption process.

Ensuring the right adopters come forward for the children we have waiting for forever homes remains a priority for the government. That is why this year, we gave the Regional Adoption Agency (RAA) Leaders’ Group £1 million to develop a sector led recruitment campaign. This campaign, launched on 16 September, is challenging preconceived conceptions about who can adopt and encouraging more people to come forward.

The campaign will specifically focus on black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities through outreach work in 2 pilot areas, London and Birmingham. There is a focus on BAME communities during the recruitment campaign as children from BAME backgrounds typically wait longer to be placed with a forever family. The RAA Leaders’ Group are also funding Home for Good to run a triage service to support prospective adopters from these pilot areas. This will include a safe space to explore adoption and ask further questions, but also seek extra support during the process.

We are working closely with the sector to ensure the prospective adopter journey is consistent for everyone across all agencies.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
30th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether he plans to continue funding early entitlements for free childcare at the rate of occupancy before the covid-19 outbreak after January 2021.

On 20 July, we announced we will continue paying local authorities for the childcare places they usually fund for the autumn term. This will give nurseries and childminders another term of secure income, regardless of whether fewer children are attending.

At the same time, we set out our intention to return to the normal early years funding process from the start of 2021. This would mean using the January 2021 census to drive funding allocations for local authorities for the 2021 spring term, and that local authorities’ funding to childcare providers would return to ‘funding following the child’ from 1 January 2021.

We also made clear in that announcement that we would review the funding approach for the spring term given the uncertain times ahead with the COVID-19 outbreak. We are doing so and will announce our approach in due course.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
29th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, pursuant to the Answer of 22 September 2020 to Question 91681 on pre-school education: coronavirus, if he will request that HM Chief Inspector publish information about the number of covid-19 outbreaks that have been reported in early years settings online on a weekly basis.

Ofsted is currently considering what information could be published and by when. I have asked Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, Amanda Spielman, to write to the hon. Member, if and when this data is published, and a copy of her reply will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
25th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what discussions he has had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on ensuring that early years providers can access support through the (a) Job Support Scheme and (b) other measures announced on 24 September 2020.

My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, and ministers at the department, meet regularly with colleagues to discuss the department’s agenda.

I also refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 25 September 2020 to Question 95158.

On 24 September, my right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, outlined additional government support to provide certainty to businesses and workers impacted by COVID-19 across the UK. Further details of the Job Support Scheme and extension of the Self Employment Income Support Scheme are available at:
https://www.gov.uk/government/news/chancellor-outlines-winter-economy-plan.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
25th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what discussions he has had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the potential merits of extending the business rates holiday for nurseries to 2021-22.

My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, and other ministers in the department, meet regularly with colleagues to discuss the department’s agenda.

In March, my right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, announced that childcare providers would be eligible for a business rates holiday for one year. Guidance on this is available at:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/business-rates-nursery-childcare-discount-2020-to-2021-coronavirus-response-local-authority-guidance.

Further guidance on business support grant funds is available at:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-business-support-grant-funding-guidance-for-businesses.

There are no current plans to further extend the business rates holiday, but we will continue to monitor the market.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
24th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans his Department has to review the adequacy of the care system for children and young adults.

The government announced that it would review the care system in its 2019 manifesto. The urgent local and national response to the COVID-19 outbreak has delayed launching the Care Review, but we are making preparations to launch as soon as possible and will set out further details at that point. This review will be broad and bold, taking a fundamental look across children’s social care, with the aim of better supporting, protecting and improving the outcomes of vulnerable children and young people.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
24th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment his Department has made of the effect of (a) the covid-19 restrictions announced on 22 September 2020 and (b) further local lockdowns on demand for childcare places.

The government understands the importance of childcare, which is why we are planning to spend over £3.6 billion on our free early education entitlements in 2020-21. We continue to work closely with both local authorities and the early years sector organisations to monitor the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on the sector.

The COVID-19 outbreak is a testing and disruptive time for all parts of society and the economy, including the early years sector. We recognise the risk to providers’ financial viability caused by changing levels of parental demand.

We are providing extra stability and reassurance to nurseries and childminders that are open by ‘block-buying’ childcare places for the rest of this year at the level we would have funded before the COVID-19 outbreak in accordance with specific guidance, regardless of how many children are attending.

Additionally, nurseries, childminders and pre-schools can claim for various other forms of business support, including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and Self Employment Income Support Scheme for the proportion of their staff costs that would not normally be covered by government funding.

To provide additional support to firms to keep employees as demand returns, my right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, introduced the Job Retention Bonus, a one-off payment of £1,000 to employers for each employee who was ever furloughed, has been continuously employed until 31 January 2021 and is still employed by the same employer as of 31 January 2021.

Additionally, on 24 September, my right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, outlined additional government support within the Winter Economy Plan, to provide certainty to businesses and workers impacted by COVID-19 across the UK.

Around £60 million per year of supplementary funding is also being provided to local authorities, to enable them to protect maintained nursery schools’ funding. On 24 August, we announced that we will continue to provide this for the whole of the 2020-21 academic year.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
24th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many laptops his Department has provided to children since the start of the covid-19 outbreak.

During the summer term, the Department delivered over 220,000 laptops and tablets and over 50,000 4G wireless routers to local authorities and academy trusts. The number of devices delivered to each local authority and academy trust can be viewed here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/912888/Devices_and_4G_wireless_routers_progress_data_as_of_27_August_2020.pdf.

The Department is now supplementing this support by making 150,000 additional devices available in the event face-to-face schooling is disrupted as a result of local COVID-19 restrictions and children become reliant on remote education.

This scheme is intended to enable schools to support disadvantaged children in years 3 to 11 who cannot afford their own devices. Schools will also be able to order devices for disadvantaged children across all year groups who are shielding as a result of official or medical advice, all year groups who attend hospital schools, and those completing their Key Stage 4 at a further education college.

24th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many more laptops his Department plans to provide to children living in digital poverty.

During the summer term, the Department delivered over 220,000 laptops and tablets and over 50,000 4G wireless routers to local authorities and academy trusts. The number of devices delivered to each local authority and academy trust can be viewed here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/912888/Devices_and_4G_wireless_routers_progress_data_as_of_27_August_2020.pdf.

The Department is now supplementing this support by making 150,000 additional devices available in the event face-to-face schooling is disrupted as a result of local COVID-19 restrictions and children become reliant on remote education.

This scheme is intended to enable schools to support disadvantaged children in years 3 to 11 who cannot afford their own devices. Schools will also be able to order devices for disadvantaged children across all year groups who are shielding as a result of official or medical advice, all year groups who attend hospital schools, and those completing their Key Stage 4 at a further education college.

23rd Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will publish guidance on teaching children with dyscalculia on his Department's website.

The department has contracted with the Whole School Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Consortium, led by nasen, to provide support to the SEND schools’ workforce.

The Consortium has produced resources and training to enable schools to review their special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) provision to ensure that they can identify and meet the needs of pupils effectively. The department has also funded a range of organisations to develop specialist resources and training to support teachers to identify and effectively meet the needs of pupils with autism, specific learning difficulties, including dyscalculia and dyslexia, speech, language and communication needs, sensory impairments, and physical disabilities.

All materials funded by the department are hosted on the SEND Gateway, an online portal which offers education professionals free, easy to access to high-quality information, resources and training for identifying and meeting the needs of children with SEND. The SEND Gateway can be accessed here: https://www.sendgateway.org.uk/.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
23rd Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on the effect of conversion therapy on children.

The government has committed to end conversion therapy and is exploring both legislative and non-legislative action to end this abhorrent practice. These practices degrade lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and can isolate them from their families, this is of course a particular concern for children and young people. Where these practices are not already unlawful, we will examine the best ways to prevent them being conducted, without sending them underground.

This work is led by the Government Equalities Office (GEO) and they are engaging widely before bringing forward proposals. This includes discussions between officials at the GEO and the Department for Education. The GEO will set out next steps in due course to ensure that the actions taken by government are proportionate and effective.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
23rd Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what his Department’s policy is on supporting children with dyscalculia; and what Government guidance is available on that policy.

Our ambition is for every child, no matter what challenges they face, to have access to a world-class education that sets them up for life. We want all children and young people, no matter what their special educational need or disability (SEND), to be able to reach their full potential and receive the right support to succeed in their education and as they move into adult life.

In line with the SEND Code of Practice, where a pupil is identified as having a SEND, schools should take action to remove barriers to learning and put effective special educational provision in place. A four-part cycle ‘graduated approach’ should begin. Through the graduated approach earlier decisions and actions are revisited, refined and revised with a growing understanding of the pupil’s needs and of what supports the pupil is making good progress and securing good outcomes. It draws on more detailed approaches, more frequent review and more specialist expertise in successive cycles in order to match interventions to the SEND of children and young people. The SEND Code of Practice is available here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/send-code-of-practice-0-to-25.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
17th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many covid-19 outbreaks have been reported in early years settings in each week since 1 June 2020.

This is a matter for Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, Amanda Spielman. I have asked her to write to the hon. Member and a copy of her reply will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
17th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many covid-19 home testing kits have been supplied to early years settings; and when his Department plans to order more testing kits for those settings.

All schools, including primary schools with nurseries and local authority-maintained nurseries have received an initial batch of home testing kits. This included:

  • 9,730 schools with nurseries; and
  • 388 local authority nursery schools.

The home testing kits are for those who develop the symptoms of COVID-19 and face significant barriers to accessing a test.

All schools, including primary schools with nurseries and local authority-maintained nurseries are able to order additional test kits via the online portal that opened on 16 September.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
17th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether he plans to provide free school meals to eligible children over the (a) autumn half-term and (b) Christmas holiday period.

The government has taken unprecedented and substantial action to ensure that children do not go hungry as we take measures to tackle coronavirus, including in relation to free school meals.

In the first instance, we asked schools to support eligible pupils by providing meals or food parcels through their existing food providers wherever possible. For circumstances where this was not possible, we established a national voucher scheme and the COVID-19 Summer Food Fund to support schools and families during this difficult time while schools were restricted from opening to all pupils. Our national voucher scheme supplier, Edenred, have reported that over £380 million worth of voucher codes had been redeemed into supermarket eGift cards by families through the scheme as of 19 August. Over 20,350 schools had placed orders for the scheme as of 28 July. Now schools and their kitchens are open, normal free school meal provision has resumed, enabling children to have a nutritious healthy meal at school. As set out in our guidance, schools are able to support pupils eligible for benefits-related free school meals who have to remain at home due to self-isolation with food parcels. Our latest guidance for schools is set out here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-free-school-meals-guidance/covid-19-free-school-meals-guidance-for-schools.

While schools were restricted from opening to all pupils, we continued to support families in recognition of the unprecedented levels of disruption and uncertainty for schools during this time; however, provision for free schools meals is ordinarily term time only and there is no requirement for schools to continue this provision during school holidays.

This summer, our £9 million Holiday Activities and Food Programme worked across 17 local authorities, providing thousands of children with access to healthy meals and enriching activities and building on the success of the 2018 and 2019 programmes. We are currently assessing the scheme in order to ascertain the best way to provide children with activities as well as food during the holiday period. Our 2020 programme will help show how free provision can be coordinated in different local areas and it will provide valuable information about what works in supporting this sector in future. Future policy and spending decisions will be set following completion of the current Spending Review.

The government has put in place a range of support for families. The Department for Work and Pensions have increased Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit by over £1,000 a year for this financial year, benefiting over 4 million households, and increased Local Housing Allowance rates – putting an average of £600 into people’s pockets. Families facing hardship can access the Local Authority Emergency Assistance Grant which includes £63 million for local authorities to help those who are struggling financially due to the impact of COVID-19. This will allow authorities to step in and provide discretionary financial help to those facing severe hardship to allow them to pay for food and other necessities. This funding will sit alongside the £6.5 billion extra support the government is already providing through the welfare system to ensure the most vulnerable in our society are protected throughout this crisis. Additionally, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs are providing £16 million for food support for the most vulnerable people as delivered through charities including FareShare and WRAP.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
17th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what estimate he makes of the change in demand for (a) children’s social care and (b) children and adolescent mental health services since schools returned for the autumn term.

The department has been working closely with local authorities to assess the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak, setting up dedicated regional teams that are in frequent contact. Bringing together expertise from across the department, these teams monitor the challenges local authorities are facing, including any increases in demand and can provide support and guidance where appropriate.

We are also monitoring referrals to children’s services via our regional teams and via the Vulnerable Children and Young People survey, which collects data fortnightly from local authorities in England. The latest release is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/vulnerable-children-and-young-people-survey.

The next wave of data will be published on 14 October 2020 and will include data from the period since schools returned for the autumn term.

The government has provided £3.7 billion of additional funding to support local authorities in meeting COVID-19 related pressures, including in children’s services.

We will continue to work closely with local authorities as the COVID-19 outbreak progresses and for the upcoming Spending Review on long-term funding decisions.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
17th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what estimate his Department has made of the number of children who have become eligible for free school meals since March 2020.

The number of children eligible for free school meals at each school is provided to the department in the school census. The last census was held in Spring 2020 and the next census will be held in October 2020. The data requested is, therefore, not yet available.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
17th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many children with SEND were excluded from school in each week since schools returned for the autumn term.

Schools and colleges should work with children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and their families and carers so that they receive the education, therapeutic support or specialist support and reasonable adjustments that they need.

The department does not currently hold information related to school exclusions for SEND pupils for this period. This data is collected on a termly basis as part of the school census and released in the annual ‘Permanent and fixed period exclusions in England’ statistical releases.

As set out in the letter of 2 September to children and young people with SEND, their families and carers and those who work to support them, we know that it is critical that all pupils and students can once again benefit from a full-time on-site education 5 days a week.

The department is introducing intelligence gathering and monitoring processes to identify in real time any changes in the use of exclusions and other disciplinary measures. This includes discussions with stakeholders including Regional School Commissioners, Ofsted and local authorities.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
17th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what progress has been made on the SEND review since the start of the covid-19 outbreak.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 17 September 2020 to Question 87715.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
17th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many and what proportion of (a) children’s centres and (b) Sure Start centres are open during the covid-19 outbreak.

The decision whether to keep Sure Start children’s centres open in response to COVID-19 is one for local authorities. Data on the number of children’s centres open during the COVID-19 outbreak is held at a local level.

Data on Sure Start children’s centres sites is supplied by local authorities via the department’s Get Information about Schools (GIAS) database portal at: https://www.get-information-schools.service.gov.uk.

Local authorities are required to update their children’s centre records on a regular basis to reflect any permanent changes that they make to their children’s centre provision. However, the GIAS does not provide facility for local authorities to report temporary closures.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
17th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many covid-19 outbreaks have been reported in children’s residential social care settings in each of the last six months.

The department does not collect data on confirmed cases of COVID-19 outbreaks in children’s residential social care settings.

We have been working closely with local authorities and have announced more than £3.7 billion of un-ringfenced funding for local authorities to help them address pressures arising from COVID-19. That includes funding to support children’s social care settings to ensure they can continue to offer care for looked after children.

The government is committed to supporting the children’s social care workforce by ensuring that children’s homes, secure children’s homes and residential special schools have access to testing and free access to emergency personal protection equipment supplies for COVID-19 purposes, for use in line with department guidance.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
17th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, when he plans to bring to an end the temporary extension of free school meals eligibility to certain no recourse to public funds groups.

We are working with departments across government to evaluate access to free school meals for families with no recourse to public funds. In the meantime, the extension of eligibility will continue with the current income threshold until a decision on long-term eligibility is made.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
11th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that pupils who are eligible for free school meals are still able to receive that support if they are required to self isolate at home as a result of covid-19.

School kitchens have reopened and normal free school meal provision has resumed for the autumn term. Schools should provide meal options for all pupils who are in school. Meals should be available free of charge to all infant pupils and all pupils who meet the benefits-related free school meals eligibility criteria. We expect catering providers to support pupils eligible for benefits-related free school meals who are unable to attend school because they are self-isolating due to COVID-19 by providing food parcels should the need arise.

Our latest guidance for on providing school meals during the COVID-19 outbreak is available here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-free-school-meals-guidance/covid-19-free-school-meals-guidance-for-schools.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
10th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to paragraph 2.64 of Budget 2020 on research to support vulnerable children, what progress has been made on delivering the £2.5 million for research and developing best practice around the integration of services for families, including family hubs.

We will be launching the procurement process for research and developing best practice on integration of services for families, including family hubs, shortly.

The number of family hubs in each locality is determined by local councils in consultation with their local communities.

Local authorities and their partners have the flexibility to deliver the Troubled Families Programme in the way that best meets their local needs. The programme’s Early Help System Guide supports local areas to re-configure their services around families and encourages innovative, multi-agency practice, which could include integrated hubs based in the community.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
10th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many family hubs (a) have opened and (b) are planned to open as a result of the additional support announced in the March 2020 budget.

We will be launching the procurement process for research and developing best practice on integration of services for families, including family hubs, shortly.

The number of family hubs in each locality is determined by local councils in consultation with their local communities.

Local authorities and their partners have the flexibility to deliver the Troubled Families Programme in the way that best meets their local needs. The programme’s Early Help System Guide supports local areas to re-configure their services around families and encourages innovative, multi-agency practice, which could include integrated hubs based in the community.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
10th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what progress he has made on integrating family hubs with the Troubled Families Programme.

We will be launching the procurement process for research and developing best practice on integration of services for families, including family hubs, shortly.

The number of family hubs in each locality is determined by local councils in consultation with their local communities.

Local authorities and their partners have the flexibility to deliver the Troubled Families Programme in the way that best meets their local needs. The programme’s Early Help System Guide supports local areas to re-configure their services around families and encourages innovative, multi-agency practice, which could include integrated hubs based in the community.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
10th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many local authorities have authorised care placements for children in unregulated care settings in (a) each of the last ten years and (b) each of the last twelve months.

On 31 March 2019, 6,180 looked after children were placed in semi-independent living or were living independently. Of these children, 6,090 were aged 16 years or over and 100 of these were aged under 16 years.

Information on care placement type is published annually in the statistical release ‘Children looked after in England including adoption’. The latest data relates to the year ending 31 March 2019. This data is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/children-looked-after-in-england-including-adoption-2018-to-2019. The department does not routinely publish data in the form requested or monthly counts of any placement types.

Figures for the number of children placed in semi-independent living, or who were living independently, are shown in the table (by local authority area)[1].

[1] Some figures are not shown in order to protect confidentiality. Therefore, the rounded aggregate of local authority figures as a result may not add up to the relevant regional total.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
10th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many children (a) under and (b) over the age of 16 have been placed in unregulated residential care settings in each of the last twelve months.

On 31 March 2019, 6,180 looked after children were placed in semi-independent living or were living independently. Of these children, 6,090 were aged 16 years or over and 100 of these were aged under 16 years.

Information on care placement type is published annually in the statistical release ‘Children looked after in England including adoption’. The latest data relates to the year ending 31 March 2019. This data is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/children-looked-after-in-england-including-adoption-2018-to-2019. The department does not routinely publish data in the form requested or monthly counts of any placement types.

Figures for the number of children placed in semi-independent living, or who were living independently, are shown in the table (by local authority area)[1].

[1] Some figures are not shown in order to protect confidentiality. Therefore, the rounded aggregate of local authority figures as a result may not add up to the relevant regional total.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
10th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many serious incident notifications his Department has received in each of the last 12 months regarding children in care placed in (a) unregistered and (b) unregulated accommodation.

Local authorities do not provide serious incident notification data broken down by ‘unregistered’ or ‘unregulated’ accommodation. They do however provide information on lodgings and semi-independent settings, which are unregulated. Between 1 September 2019 and 31 August 2020, the department received 21 serious incident notifications where the local authority stated the child was resident in lodgings or a semi-independent unit at the time of the incident.

We have consulted on a set of ambitious proposals including banning children under the age of 16 from being placed in unregulated accommodation and how to enforce new national standards for providers to drive up quality, keeping young people safer and delivering better outcomes. More information is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/unregulated-provision-for-children-in-care-and-care-leavers.

We will be responding to this consultation and setting out our plans for ensuring the high-quality of unregulated semi-independent and independent accommodation in due course.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
10th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to reduce the number of children in care placed in unregulated residential settings.

The Children Act (1989) set out that the assessment of a child’s needs to inform his or her care, or pathway plan, may conclude that for some children, these needs will be best met by a placement in ‘other arrangements’. When local authorities place young people in ‘other arrangements’, such as independent or semi-independent provision (often referred to as unregulated or unregistered), they are responsible for ensuring the placement provides the level of support the young person needs. It is not in accordance with the legislation to place a looked after child in a setting that does not meet their needs and keep them safe, and it is unacceptable for any child or young person to be placed in such a setting.

We are concerned about increases in the number of children under the age of 16 being placed in this type of provision. Many children in the care system under the age of 16 are very vulnerable and often have complex needs. We do not believe that independent and semi-independent settings can meet all of these needs and, therefore, children of this age should not be placed in these settings under any circumstances. While local authorities have local measures in place to quality assure the provision, the quality of the provision is variable, and does not always meet the needs of young people and keep them safe. We know that young people placed in this provision are more likely to go missing and can be particularly vulnerable to exploitation.

We have consulted on a set of ambitious proposals including banning children under the age of 16 from being placed in unregulated accommodation and how to enforce new national standards for providers to drive up quality, keeping young people safer and delivering better outcomes (https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/unregulated-provision-for-children-in-care-and-care-leavers). We will be responding to this consultation and setting out our plans for ensuring the high-quality of unregulated semi-independent and independent accommodation in due course.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
10th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, under what circumstances it is permitted for a child in care to be placed in a unregulated residential care setting.

The Children Act (1989) set out that the assessment of a child’s needs to inform his or her care, or pathway plan, may conclude that for some children, these needs will be best met by a placement in ‘other arrangements’. When local authorities place young people in ‘other arrangements’, such as independent or semi-independent provision (often referred to as unregulated or unregistered), they are responsible for ensuring the placement provides the level of support the young person needs. It is not in accordance with the legislation to place a looked after child in a setting that does not meet their needs and keep them safe, and it is unacceptable for any child or young person to be placed in such a setting.

We are concerned about increases in the number of children under the age of 16 being placed in this type of provision. Many children in the care system under the age of 16 are very vulnerable and often have complex needs. We do not believe that independent and semi-independent settings can meet all of these needs and, therefore, children of this age should not be placed in these settings under any circumstances. While local authorities have local measures in place to quality assure the provision, the quality of the provision is variable, and does not always meet the needs of young people and keep them safe. We know that young people placed in this provision are more likely to go missing and can be particularly vulnerable to exploitation.

We have consulted on a set of ambitious proposals including banning children under the age of 16 from being placed in unregulated accommodation and how to enforce new national standards for providers to drive up quality, keeping young people safer and delivering better outcomes (https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/unregulated-provision-for-children-in-care-and-care-leavers). We will be responding to this consultation and setting out our plans for ensuring the high-quality of unregulated semi-independent and independent accommodation in due course.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
10th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether his Department will bear additional costs associated with increases in the number of children eligible for the pupil premium due to the covid-19 outbreak.

We are monitoring eligibility for free school meals and the pupil premium as part of the normal policy-making process. We will collect definitive information on the number of pupils eligible for free school meals at the October school census.

Allocations for pupil premium for 2020-21 were published in June, and the first quarterly instalments were paid out in June and July. The total value of pupil premium allocations in 2020-21 is estimated at £2.4 billion. Announcements on pupil premium funding for 2021-22 will follow later in the year, in line with the usual timetable.

In light of the COVID-19 outbreak, the government has also announced a further £1 billion of funding to support children and young people. This includes a one-off universal £650 million catch-up premium for the 2020-21 academic year to ensure that schools have the support that they need to help all pupils make up for lost teaching time, available for all state-funded mainstream and special schools.

We will also spend up to £350 million on the National Tutoring Programme to provide targeted support for children and young people who been hardest hit from disruption to their education. Through the Tuition Partners strand, schools in all regions will be eligible to access heavily subsidised tuition from an approved list of tuition partners. Through our Academic Mentors strand, our most disadvantaged schools can apply for support to employ in-house Academic Mentor to provide small group and 1:1 tuition to their pupils.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
10th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the implications for the number of pupils eligible for (a) free school meals and (b) the pupil premium of the Office for Budget Responsibility’s projection for unemployment over the next 12 months.

We are monitoring eligibility for free school meals and the pupil premium as part of the normal policy-making process. We will collect definitive information on the number of pupils eligible for free school meals at the October school census.

Allocations for pupil premium for 2020-21 were published in June, and the first quarterly instalments were paid out in June and July. The total value of pupil premium allocations in 2020-21 is estimated at £2.4 billion. Announcements on pupil premium funding for 2021-22 will follow later in the year, in line with the usual timetable.

In light of the COVID-19 outbreak, the government has also announced a further £1 billion of funding to support children and young people. This includes a one-off universal £650 million catch-up premium for the 2020-21 academic year to ensure that schools have the support that they need to help all pupils make up for lost teaching time, available for all state-funded mainstream and special schools.

We will also spend up to £350 million on the National Tutoring Programme to provide targeted support for children and young people who been hardest hit from disruption to their education. Through the Tuition Partners strand, schools in all regions will be eligible to access heavily subsidised tuition from an approved list of tuition partners. Through our Academic Mentors strand, our most disadvantaged schools can apply for support to employ in-house Academic Mentor to provide small group and 1:1 tuition to their pupils.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
10th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment his Department has made of the effect on the financial stability of the nursery sector of the end of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

The early years sector has benefitted from continued entitlement funding during the COVID-19 outbreak, on which we are planning to spend over £3.6 billion in 2020-21. On 20 July, we announced our commitment to continue funding local authorities for childcare this autumn term, at the same levels as seen prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, regardless of whether fewer children are attending. If providers are open but caring for fewer children as a result of low demand, either from parents or due to public health reasons, they can continue to be funded for the autumn term at broadly the levels that they would have expected to see had there been no COVID-19 outbreak.

Early years providers have also been able to access a comprehensive package of business support, including a business rates holiday, a small business grant of £10,000, business loans and access to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and Self-Employment Income Support Scheme. More details are available at:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-early-years-and-childcare-closures/coronavirus-covid-19-early-years-and-childcare-closures#funding.

To provide additional support to businesses to retain employees as demand grows, we are introducing the Job Retention Bonus after the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme ends on 31 October 2020.

The Job Retention Bonus is a one-off payment of £1,000 to employers for each employee who was ever furloughed, has been continuously employed until 31 January 2021 and is still employed by the same employer as of 31 January 2021.

Employees must have been continuously employed, earn an average of more than £520 per month in November, December and January and have been furloughed and successfully claimed for under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme at any point to be eligible.

Further details about the Job Retention Bonus are available at:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/job-retention-bonus.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
22nd Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of increasing funding for maintained nursery schools to support the implementation of the recent pay rise for public sector workers.

The government recognises that maintained nursery schools are an important part of the early years sector and provide valuable services, especially in disadvantaged areas.

All nurseries, including maintained nursery schools, are benefiting from the continuation of early years entitlement funding during the COVID-19 outbreak. On 20 July, we set out our plans for funding local authorities and providers in the autumn term which is available at:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/use-of-free-early-education-entitlements-funding-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/use-of-free-early-education-entitlements-funding-during-coronavirus-covid-19.

On 24 August, we announced that local authorities will continue to receive supplementary funding for their maintained nursery schools for the whole of the 2020-21 academic year. What happens after the 2020-21 academic year will be determined by the Comprehensive Spending Review.

The announcement can be viewed at:
https://www.gov.uk/government/news/early-years-support-package-to-help-close-covid-language-gap.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
20th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the Written Statement of 14 July 2020 on Children’s Social Care Update, Official Report, HCWS368, how many reports of safeguarding concerns in children’s social care settings there have there been in each month since March 2020; and how many settings those reports relate to.

Registered children’s social care providers are required by regulation to notify Ofsted of a range of events which might indicate a safeguarding concern regarding a child or young person in their care (including the death of a child in care). Ofsted inspectors review all such notifications to ensure that the provider is taking all the appropriate steps to safeguard the welfare of looked after children. Throughout this period Ofsted have continued to visit providers where necessary.

Ofsted have received, on average for the past 12 months, around 2,400 safeguarding notifications per month. Since March 2020, Ofsted have received:

  • 2,700 notifications from 1,155 providers in March;
  • 2,128 notifications from 1,004 providers in April;
  • 2,321 notifications from 1,089 providers in May; and
  • 2,275 notifications from 1,107 providers in June.

Since routine inspections ceased, Ofsted have undertaken 192 monitoring visits where there are particular safeguarding concerns. These visits have included a combination of on and off-site activity. Ofsted have also continued to use their enforcement powers including restricting children coming into homes and suspending homes where safeguarding concerns were such that it was not safe for children to remain living there.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
20th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the Written Statement of 14 July 2020 on Children’s Social Care Update, Official Report, HCWS368, how many inspections of children’s social care settings where safeguarding concerns have been reported have been undertaken by Ofsted in the period in which routine Ofsted inspections were suspended during the covid-19 outbreak.

Registered children’s social care providers are required by regulation to notify Ofsted of a range of events which might indicate a safeguarding concern regarding a child or young person in their care (including the death of a child in care). Ofsted inspectors review all such notifications to ensure that the provider is taking all the appropriate steps to safeguard the welfare of looked after children. Throughout this period Ofsted have continued to visit providers where necessary.

Ofsted have received, on average for the past 12 months, around 2,400 safeguarding notifications per month. Since March 2020, Ofsted have received:

  • 2,700 notifications from 1,155 providers in March;
  • 2,128 notifications from 1,004 providers in April;
  • 2,321 notifications from 1,089 providers in May; and
  • 2,275 notifications from 1,107 providers in June.

Since routine inspections ceased, Ofsted have undertaken 192 monitoring visits where there are particular safeguarding concerns. These visits have included a combination of on and off-site activity. Ofsted have also continued to use their enforcement powers including restricting children coming into homes and suspending homes where safeguarding concerns were such that it was not safe for children to remain living there.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
20th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the Written Statement of 14 July 2020 on Children’s Social Care Update, Official Report, HCWS368, if he will publish his Department's analysis of the Adoption and Children (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 monitoring data.

In my Written Statement to the House of Commons, HCWS368, on 14 July 2020, I referred to the process the department is taking to monitor the use of the Adoption and Children (Amendment) (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020. We are gathering information from a range of organisations to understand which of the regulations are being used and why. The monitoring and analysis of the Regulations is ongoing and will continue whilst the Regulations are in place.

The department has published monitoring information as part of the consultation on ‘Changes to the adoption and children regulations: coronavirus (COVID-19)’, which is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/changes-to-the-adoption-and-children-regulations-coronavirus-covid-19.

Our monitoring data shows that the Regulations are being used infrequently. They should only be used when absolutely necessary. We do not hold a comprehensive data set on how many times each regulation has been used, however our analysis of all the information from delivery partners to date indicates that they are being used on a case by case basis. Senior leaders in children’s social care have explained that they have robust sign-off processes in place for when a regulation has been used. Local authorities are making decisions on the use of the Regulations with the child at the heart of the case, in line with the principles in the guidance.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
20th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the Written Statement of 14 July 2020 on Children’s Social Care Update, Official Report, HCWS368, which local authorities have used at least one regulation from the Adoption and Children (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020; and if his Department will publish data on (a) which regulations have been used and (b) on how many occasions each of those regulations have been used.

In my Written Statement to the House of Commons, HCWS368, on 14 July 2020, I referred to the process the department is taking to monitor the use of the Adoption and Children (Amendment) (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020. We are gathering information from a range of organisations to understand which of the regulations are being used and why. The monitoring and analysis of the Regulations is ongoing and will continue whilst the Regulations are in place.

The department has published monitoring information as part of the consultation on ‘Changes to the adoption and children regulations: coronavirus (COVID-19)’, which is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/changes-to-the-adoption-and-children-regulations-coronavirus-covid-19.

Our monitoring data shows that the Regulations are being used infrequently. They should only be used when absolutely necessary. We do not hold a comprehensive data set on how many times each regulation has been used, however our analysis of all the information from delivery partners to date indicates that they are being used on a case by case basis. Senior leaders in children’s social care have explained that they have robust sign-off processes in place for when a regulation has been used. Local authorities are making decisions on the use of the Regulations with the child at the heart of the case, in line with the principles in the guidance.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
17th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of permanently extending free school meals to children with no recourse to public funds.

Our extension of eligibility for free school meals to include children of Zambrano carers, children of families with a right to remain in the UK under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, children of a subset of failed asylum seekers supported under Section 4 of the Immigration and Asylum Act (1999) and children of families receiving support under Section 17 of the Children Act (1989) who are also subject to a no recourse to public funds restriction remains temporary during the COVID-19 outbreak.

We are working with other government departments to support those affected by the COVID-19 outbreak and a decision regarding any permanent extension of free school meal eligibility to individuals who do not have recourse to public funds is yet to be undertaken. We are monitoring the situation closely and may make further adjustments where necessary and appropriate to ensure people are not unduly affected by circumstances beyond their control.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
17th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that local authority children’s services will have adequate resources to manage any increase in demand for their support in autumn 2020.

The government announced at the Local Government Finance Settlement that English councils' core spending power is rising by over £2.9 billion this financial year. This includes £1 billion of new grant funding that can be used flexibly by local authorities to deliver adult and children’s social care services. Further to this, the government has provided £3.7 billion of additional funding to support local authorities to meet COVID-19 related pressures, including in children’s services.

We will continue to work closely with local authorities as the COVID-19 outbreak progresses.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
17th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will publish the (a) membership and (b) terms of reference of the Government’s cross-departmental vulnerable children task and finish group .

A group of senior civil servants meets regularly to ensure the government response for vulnerable children during the COVID-19 outbreak is aligned. Given this is not a formal structure, we do not intend to publish a Terms of Reference or membership list. However, for clarification, the purpose of this group is to drive forward the delivery of programmes to mitigate the risks facing vulnerable children that have been exacerbated by COVID-19. Representatives attend this forum from a range of departments, such as the Department for Education, Department for Health and Social Care, Home Office, Ministry for Housing and Local Government, Ministry of Justice, Department for Work and Pensions, Department for Culture Media and Sport, Ofsted, Public Health England, NHS England and Cabinet Office.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
15th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to ensure that Ofsted expedites applications to set up childminding businesses during the covid-19 outbreak.

The safety of children being cared for by the early years sector is paramount.

Prospective childminders must follow Ofsted’s registration process. This includes providing details of criminal record checks (DBS), training in both childcare and first aid, a health declaration form signed off by a GP and contact details for two references. Once the application has been made online, it takes up to twelve weeks to register with Ofsted.

Guidance on the process and time taken to register can be found at:
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/apply-to-register-as-a-childminder.

Ofsted resumed their registration visits on 8 June, as confirmed in their guidance below:
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/education-plans-from-september-2020#information-for-early-years-providers.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
14th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will hold discussions with the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care on ensuring that GPs complete health declaration forms required for people applying to set up childminding businesses.

To apply to register as a childminder with Ofsted, individuals must have a completed health declaration form which includes a signed statement from their GP to confirm their physical and mental suitability. Prospective childminders should contact their GP surgery to confirm the process for obtaining a signed statement from their GP.

Information about applying to register as a childminder, including the health declaration form, is available at:
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/apply-to-register-as-a-childminder#before-you-start.

Details about the health declaration form are available at:
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/childcare-and-childrens-social-care-health-declaration-form.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
14th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the covid-19 outbreak, whether out-of-school clubs not based on school premises will be permitted to (a) operate and (b) look after children from different schools from September 2020.

As of 4 July, those offering out-of-school activities to children, including those not based on school premises, have been able to open for both indoor and outdoor provision with safety measures in place. The Department has published guidance for providers of these activities on the measures they should put in place to ensure they are operating as safely as possible, which can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-implementing-protective-measures-in-education-and-childcare-settings/coronavirus-covid-19-implementing-protective-measures-in-education-and-childcare-settings.

Out-of-school provision will continue to be permitted to operate during the autumn, and we will provide further guidance on the protective measures they should put in place in the autumn as soon as possible.

10th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent guidance his Department has issued on the operation of (a) Scouts, (b) Guides and (c) other children's extra-curricular activities as the covid-19 lockdown restrictions are eased.

The Department has published guidance for providers who run community activities, holiday clubs, after-school clubs, tuition and other out-of-school provision for children over the age of 5, setting out the safety measures that must be in place to ensure they can operate over the summer holiday: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/protective-measures-for-holiday-or-after-school-clubs-and-other-out-of-school-settings-for-children-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak.

This follows confirmation from my right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister, that from Saturday 4 July these providers can operate, with safety measures in place.

The guidance advises that children and young people can take part in outdoor activities in small, consistent groups of no more than 15 with at least one staff member. Out-of-school provision should not, however, offer overnight or residential provision for the time-being. This is consistent with the latest government guidance on meeting people from outside your household, (https://www.gov.uk/guidance/meeting-people-from-outside-your-household-from-4-july) which advises that you should not stay overnight away from your home with members of more than 2 households.

Outdoor activity providers who have been adversely affected by COVID-19 can find out what financial support is available for their business here: https://www.gov.uk/business-coronavirus-support-finder. They may be eligible for tax relief, loans or cash grants through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme or the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme for example depending on their circumstances.

7th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, pursuant to the Answer of 6 July 2020 to Question 67720 on Children: Coronavirus, if he will publish the ongoing analysis of how the Adoption and Children (Amendment) (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020 are being used.

I will make a statement to Parliament before summer recess on the Adoption and Children (Amendment) (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020, which will be informed by the department’s ongoing analysis of how the regulations are being used.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
7th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, pursuant to the Answer of 6 July 2020 to Question 67720 on Children: Coronavirus, on what date he plans to seek permission to make his statement to Parliament before the summer recess on the Adoption and Children (Amendment) (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020.

I will make a statement to Parliament before summer recess on the Adoption and Children (Amendment) (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020, which will be informed by the department’s ongoing analysis of how the regulations are being used.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
7th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans he has to support Year 12 students who are preparing for A-level examinations in 2021 with (a) educational catch up, (b) the university application process and (c) their mental health needs.

The Government is working to minimise the impact of disruption to young people’s education, including those taking year 12 exams and applying to university next year.? From 15 June, to supplement remote education, secondary schools are offering some face-to-face support to both year 10 and year 12 students, and colleges are doing the same for 16 to 19 students also taking exams next year. All students will return to school or college full time in the autumn, and the Department published guidance for schools and colleges on 2 July. The guidance for schools can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak.

The guidance for colleges can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-maintaining-further-education-provision.

We also recognise that A level students have experienced disruption to their education. On 2 July, Ofqual published consultation proposals on a range of possible changes to A level, AS level and GCSE exams and assessments next year, with the overriding aim of ensuring that exams and other assessments are as fair as possible, taking into account any public health requirements and the wellbeing of students. The consultation proposed in particular a range of ways to free up additional time for teaching, including the possibility of a slight delay to the exams timetable next year. The consultation closed on 16 July, and Ofqual is aiming to announce its decisions on any adaptations to A level, AS level and GCSE exams and assessments for next summer by early August. The consultation document can be found here:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/897137/Consultation_on_proposed_changes_to_the_assessment_of_GCSEs__AS_and_A_levels_in_2021_020620.pdf.

We have taken action to make sure that adults and young people can still access high quality careers information, advice and guidance at this time, including on applying to university. The Careers & Enterprise Company (CEC) continues to support schools and colleges to provide young people and their parents with careers education and guidance, working with the network of local partners and providers across the country. The CEC is pulling together and disseminating existing ideas and resources that can be used by schools, colleges and students while pupils are working remotely. In the longer term, they are thinking about ways they can continue to connect schools, colleges, young people, employers and training providers.

We are also working with stakeholder groups including UCAS and Universities UK, and with the sector and third sector bodies to identify access and participation good practice during the pandemic and consider how this can be shared.

The Government remains committed to promoting and supporting the mental health of children and young people. NHS services remain open, and the Government has recently provided over £9 million to leading mental health charities to help them expand and reach those most in need, and NHS Mental Health Trusts have been asked to provide 24/7 open access telephone lines to support people of all ages.

New online resources are also being developed to help schools and colleges respond to the impact of coronavirus on mental health and wellbeing. New online resources are also being developed to help schools and colleges respond to the impact of coronavirus on mental health and wellbeing. The Department for Education, in collaboration with Public Health England and NHS England, delivered two webinars in July to provide further support. The first webinar was for schools and colleges to support teachers in promoting and supporting the mental wellbeing of children and young people during the pandemic. The second event was for stakeholders across the local system to support strengthening of local partnerships to further support children and young people’s mental health as they return to school.

New guidance for schools and for out of school settings also includes specific information about supporting pupils’ mental health and wellbeing.

Children and young people can access free confidential support anytime from voluntary and community sector organisations by texting SHOUT to 85258, calling Childline on 0800 1111 or the Mix on 0808 808 4994. Children and young people can also find online information on COVID-19 and mental health on the Young Minds website. For support with an eating disorder, children and young people can ring Beat’s Youthline on 0808 8010711.

2nd Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what discussions he has had with Edenred on providing technical support to families trying to access and use vouchers for the Covid Summer Food Fund throughout the summer holidays.

Provision for free school meals is ordinarily term time only. However, owing to the COVID-19 outbreak the government understands that children and parents face an entirely unprecedented situation over the summer. To reflect this, we will be providing additional funding for a COVID Summer Food Fund which will enable families with children who are eligible for benefits-related free school meals to receive food vouchers covering the six-week holiday period. Our guidance on the COVID Summer Food Fund is available here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/covid-summer-food-fund.

Through the COVID Summer Food Fund, schools can support eligible pupils with a £90 voucher to cover the six-week holiday period. Schools must order the vouchers at least one week before their school term ends, and they will be issued to families within 7 days. This is in recognition that school offices will be closed in the summer holidays. If a school receives a claim for an eligible child during the final week before the school’s summer holidays, it will be possible for the school to place an exceptional order for that child via our supplier Edenred.

Customer service support will continue to be available throughout the summer holidays.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
2nd Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans he has to expand the number of retailers included in the Covid Summer Food Fund voucher scheme.

Provision for free school meals is ordinarily term-time only. However, owing to the COVID-19 outbreak, the government understands that children and parents face an entirely unprecedented situation over the summer. To reflect this, we will be providing additional funding for a COVID Summer Food Fund that will enable families with children who are eligible for free school meals to receive food vouchers covering the six-week holiday period. This is a specific measure to reflect the unique circumstances of the COVID-19 outbreak. Our guidance on the COVID Summer Food Fund is available here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/covid-summer-food-fund.

The vouchers can be spent in a variety of supermarkets that have e-gift card arrangements in place with our supplier, Edenred, including Aldi, Asda, Company Shop Group, Iceland (including The Food Warehouse Stores), Marks & Spencer, McColl’s, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose. We have been working with other supermarkets to encourage them to join. Any additional supermarkets would need to have the right infrastructure to deliver e-gift cards across their network of stores.

Where eligible families would be unable to access any of the supermarkets available through using Edenred e-gift cards, schools can make alternative voucher arrangements with a local supermarket that is not listed above. Schools can claim for this through the exceptional costs fund in the autumn, provided that schools have ordered their vouchers one week before their school term ends.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
1st Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, pursuant to the Answer of 18 May 2020 to Question 46754 on Children: Coronavirus, how many local authorities have used the flexible provisions on statutory duties for children’s social care under the Adoption and Children (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 since 18 May 2020.

The department is engaging with a range of stakeholders, including monthly calls with local authorities, to seek information on how the Adoption and Children (Amendment) (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020 are being used. This process will inform my statement to Parliament on the Regulations before summer recess. The Regulations should only be used when absolutely necessary, and ongoing analysis indicates that they are being used infrequently.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
1st Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what estimate his Department has made of the cost of extending eligibility for universal free school meals to primary school children in all year groups.

All children in Reception, year 1 and year 2 in England’s state-funded schools receive a free meal.

We spend around £600 million per year ensuring 1.4 million infants enjoy a free, healthy and nutritious meal at lunchtime following the introduction of the universal infant free school meals policy in 2014.

We have not estimated the cost of extending eligibility to primary school children in all year groups.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
1st Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many children have been placed in fostering for adoption placement under section 22C(9B)(c) of the Children Act 1989 without the approval of a nominated officer since The Adoption and Children (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 came into force on 24 April 2020; and how many of those children were aged a) under 12 months, (b) 1-4 years, (c) 5-9 years, (d) 10-15 years and (e) 16 years and over.

The information is not available in the form requested. The department is engaging with a range of stakeholders, including monthly calls with local authorities, to seek information on how the Adoption and Children (Amendment) (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020 are being used. This process will inform my statement to Parliament on the Regulations before summer recess. The Regulations should only be used when absolutely necessary, and ongoing analysis indicates that they are being used infrequently.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
1st Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how much of the £1 billion school rebuilding programme he plans to spend on (a) special schools and (b) SEND provision in mainstream schools.

The Government has announced plans for a transformative, ten year school rebuilding programme. This will replace poor condition and ageing school buildings with modern, energy efficient designs, transforming education for thousands of pupils.

We have committed over £1 billion to fund the first 50 projects of the ten year programme. These projects will be confirmed in the autumn, and construction on the first sites is expected to begin in autumn 2021. Further details of the new, ten year rebuilding programme, including additional funding, will be set out following the Spending Review.

We are also providing £560 million of additional condition funding for the school system this year to support essential maintenance projects. This comes on top of over £1.4 billion capital funding already provided for school maintenance in the financial year 2020-21. We will set out details of how the additional capital funding will be allocated shortly.

The Government is committed to delivering more school places for children with complex special educational needs, as set out in our manifesto. We have invested £365 million across 2018-19 to 2020-21 to create new places and improve facilities for pupils with special educational needs and disabilities. Funding for future years will be determined as part of the Spending Review.

1st Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans the Government has to increase the High Needs block of the Dedicated Schools Grant.

We are aware that local authorities have faced pressures on their high needs budgets in the past. That is why we are increasing the high needs budget by £780 million this year, to £7.2 billion. This will be the single largest year-on-year increase since the high needs block was created in 2013. We will announce the allocations for 2021-22 in due course.

The department receives a large volume of representations, including the adequacy of special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) funding. The department held a call for evidence about the SEND funding system last year, including both an online form which received 867 responses, and includes responses from local authorities. The department also held series of workshops across the country seeking views, which representatives from a range of local authorities attended. The department also holds regular meetings with local authorities and other interested stakeholders to gather their views on various topics, including SEND funding.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
1st Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many local authorities have made representations to his Department on the adequacy of SEND funding in each of the last three years.

We are aware that local authorities have faced pressures on their high needs budgets in the past. That is why we are increasing the high needs budget by £780 million this year, to £7.2 billion. This will be the single largest year-on-year increase since the high needs block was created in 2013. We will announce the allocations for 2021-22 in due course.

The department receives a large volume of representations, including the adequacy of special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) funding. The department held a call for evidence about the SEND funding system last year, including both an online form which received 867 responses, and includes responses from local authorities. The department also held series of workshops across the country seeking views, which representatives from a range of local authorities attended. The department also holds regular meetings with local authorities and other interested stakeholders to gather their views on various topics, including SEND funding.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
1st Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many Education, Health and Care plans have been recorded in each of the last 10 years.

The number of education, health and care (EHC) plans is available in the statistics publication, ‘Education, health and care plans’, which is available at:
https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/find-statistics/education-health-and-care-plans.

This also includes the number of statements of special educational needs (SEN), which EHC plans began to replace from September 2014. The number of statements of SEN and EHC plans in each of the last ten years are shown in a table, which is available at:
https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/data-tables/permalink/70ff8d4d-5c28-4c45-bc6b-fa6735ee7c3a.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
1st Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps the Government is taking to communicate to schools that the maximum earnings threshold for free school meal eligibility for children with No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) is £16,190 rather than the £7,400 that was incorrectly stated on the guidance for Coronavirus (COVID-19): temporary extension of free school meals eligibility to NRPF groups from 25 June to 30 June 2020.

During the COVID-19 outbreak, we are temporarily extending free school meal eligibility to include some children of groups who have no recourse to public funds.

The guidance has been updated and is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-free-school-meals-guidance/guidance-for-the-temporary-extension-of-free-school-meals-eligibility-to-nrpf-groups.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
30th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many (a) Sure Start centres and (b) other children’s centres have closed in each of the last six months.

Since 18 September 2017, data on Sure Start children’s centres and children’s centre linked sites has been supplied by local authorities via the department’s Get Information about Schools (GIAS) database portal at: https://www.get-information-schools.service.gov.uk/ [1].

Based on the information supplied by local authorities [2], no Sure Start children’s centres have closed in the last six months.

[1] The GIAS collects data on children’s centres that local authorities have closed on a permanent basis. It does not collect data on children’s centres that local authorities may have closed temporarily in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

[2] The number of children’s centres is based on information supplied by local authorities as at 1 July 2020. This figure could change in future since local authorities may update their data at any time.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
30th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether statutory duties relating to Education, Health and Care plans will be restored in full before all children are permitted to return to school in September 2020.

Since May, as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, it has been necessary to modify the duty on local authorities and health commissioners so that they could use their ‘reasonable endeavours’ to secure or arrange the specified special educational and health care provision in education health and care (EHC) plans. It is our plan that all children and young people, in all year groups and setting types, will return to education settings full time from the beginning of the autumn term. We are committed to removing these flexibilities as soon as possible so children and young people can receive the support they need to return to school. As such, unless the evidence changes, we will not be issuing further national notices to modify the EHC duties. We will, however, consider whether any such flexibilities may be required locally to respond to outbreaks.

We will also continue to monitor the need for the temporary changes to the law on EHC needs assessments and plans that give local authorities and others who contribute to the relevant processes more flexibility in responding to the demands placed on them by COVID-19. These changes are currently in force until 25 September.

We remain committed to listening to and working with local authorities, parent carer representatives and specialist special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) organisations, to ensure that the lifting of the temporary changes is managed in a way that supports the needs of children and young people with SEND.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
30th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent estimate his Department has made of the number of children who are (a) eligible for the early years pupil premium and (b) in receipt of that support through their early years provider.

The table below shows the number of children in receipt of the early years pupil premium and the total number of providers attended by those children according to the early years census. The figures reflect the position as it was during ‘census week’ in January of each year.

Number of 3- and 4-year-old children recorded in receipt of early years pupil premium and the number of providers attended

Year

Number of children

Number of providers

2020

49,256

12,814

2019

48,305

12,714

2018

42,830

11,928

2017

47,103

12,261

2016

50,591

12,458

Source: Early Years Census

The department does not hold information on the number of children who are eligible for the early years premium but are not in receipt of that support.

These figures only relate to children attending private, voluntary and independent providers, including childminders. The majority of children in receipt of pupil premium aged 4 will be in school settings in Reception so will be in receipt of the school-age pupil premium, rather than the early years pupil premium. Therefore, they have been excluded from the figures in the above table.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
30th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many childcare providers have claimed support through the early years pupil premium in each of the last five years; and for how many children that support has been claimed for in each of those years.

The table below shows the number of children in receipt of the early years pupil premium and the total number of providers attended by those children according to the early years census. The figures reflect the position as it was during ‘census week’ in January of each year.

Number of 3- and 4-year-old children recorded in receipt of early years pupil premium and the number of providers attended

Year

Number of children

Number of providers

2020

49,256

12,814

2019

48,305

12,714

2018

42,830

11,928

2017

47,103

12,261

2016

50,591

12,458

Source: Early Years Census

The department does not hold information on the number of children who are eligible for the early years premium but are not in receipt of that support.

These figures only relate to children attending private, voluntary and independent providers, including childminders. The majority of children in receipt of pupil premium aged 4 will be in school settings in Reception so will be in receipt of the school-age pupil premium, rather than the early years pupil premium. Therefore, they have been excluded from the figures in the above table.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
30th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to recent changes made to children's social care regulations during the covid-19 outbreak, if he will make it his policy to (a) undertake public consultations on any further proposed changes to children’s social care regulations and (b) adhere to the Government's guidance on consultation principles in any future such consultations.

I will make a statement to Parliament before summer recess on the Adoption and Children (Amendment) (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020. In line with the government's guidance on consultation principles, the department continues to engage with a range of stakeholders on these regulations, including seeking information on how the regulations are being used. This process will continue and will inform my statement to Parliament.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
30th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how much has been spent on the early years pupil premium in each of the last five years.

Funding for the Early Years Pupil Premium (EYPP) is allocated through the early years block of the Dedicated Schools Grant. The funding allocation for the EYPP in each of the last five years is below.

Funding allocation for the EYPP

2015-2016

£49.92 million

2016-2017

£31.26 million

2017-2018

£29.28 million

2018-2019

£28.96 million

2019-2020

£29.59 million

These figures represent allocation rather than expenditure. The higher initial allocation figure in 2015-16 reflects uncertainty over the take-up of what was a novel policy.

The Dedicated Schools Grant Allocation Tables can be found at the following links:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/dedicated-schools-grant-dsg-2015-to-2016.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/dedicated-schools-grant-dsg-2016-to-2017.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/dedicated-schools-grant-dsg-2017-to-2018.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/dedicated-schools-grant-dsg-2018-to-2019.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/dedicated-schools-grant-dsg-2019-to-2020.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
29th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether children who become eligible for free school meals during the summer holidays will be eligible for support form the COVID Summer Food Fund.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 29 June 2020 to Question 60716.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
29th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the COVID Summer Food Fund, whether the alternative support of up to £90 per pupil can be used to (a) make cash payments to families, (b) pay for the production and distribution of meals and (c) provide free school meal support in other ways.

Provision for free school meals is ordinarily term-time only. However, owing to the COVID-19 outbreak, the government fully understands that children and parents face an entirely unprecedented situation over the summer. To reflect this, we will be providing additional funding for a Covid Summer Food Fund which will enable families with children who are eligible for benefits-related free school meals to receive food vouchers covering the 6-week holiday period. Our guidance on the Covid Summer Food Fund is available here:
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/covid-summer-food-fund.

Schools can order vouchers for the Covid Summer Food Fund through the same Edenred portal that was created for our national free school meals voucher scheme during term time. The department will meet the cost of vouchers ordered through this portal, and a wide range of supermarkets are participating: Aldi, Asda, Company Shop Group, Iceland (including The Food Warehouse Stores), Marks & Spencer, McColl’s, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose. Since the scheme’s launch in March, the department and Edenred have continually upgraded this system, and over 18,500 schools had placed orders through this site as of 30 June. Thousands of families are receiving free school meals vouchers through this system. Overall, over £238 million worth of voucher codes has been redeemed into supermarket e-gift cards by schools and families through the scheme, as of 10 July.

Many parents will be able to access one or more of the supermarkets on our national scheme. However, if a school considers that its families cannot access any of these supermarkets, they can make alternative voucher arrangements with a local supermarket or they can arrange food parcels for collection or delivery to eligible children. Schools can claim for the costs through the department’s exceptional fund. Where schools are ordering alternative vouchers for the summer holidays, these orders must be placed one week before the school summer term ends. If schools arrange food parcels in the summer holidays, these can only be ordered for children in receipt of free school meals before the summer holidays begin. The guidance on the exceptional costs fund is available here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-financial-support-for-schools/school-funding-exceptional-costs-associated-with-coronavirus-covid-19-for-the-period-march-to-july-2020.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
29th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, on what dates Edenred’s contracts to deliver (a) the national free school meal voucher scheme and (b) the COVID Summer Food Fund will come to an end.

Provision for free school meals is ordinarily term time only. However, owing to the COVID-19 outbreak, the government understands that children and parents face an entirely unprecedented situation over the summer. To reflect this, we will be providing additional funding for a COVID Summer Food Fund which will enable families with children who are eligible for benefits-related free school meals to receive food vouchers covering the 6-week holiday period. Our guidance on the COVID Summer Food Fund is available here:
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/covid-summer-food-fund.

The department’s contract with Edenred for supplying both the national free school meals voucher scheme and the COVID Summer Food Fund will expire on 31 August 2020.

We have announced details of the COVID Summer Food Fund in our daily bulletin to schools and on social media. A link to information on the COVID Summer Food Fund has been added to our guidance on providing free school meals during the COVID-19 outbreak here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-free-school-meals-guidance/covid-19-free-school-meals-guidance-for-schools.

Edenred have also emailed all eligible schools with information about the fund and the deadlines for placing orders. We have discussed these arrangements with teaching unions and wider stakeholders. When the national voucher scheme was set up, Edenred sent emails to all eligible schools, containing a link with which to activate their accounts. All eligible schools that had not yet activated their account were sent a new link in the week commencing 22 June 2020.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
29th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to (a) make schools aware of the deadline for applying for the COVID Summer Food Fund and (b) encourage schools to apply for that funding.

Provision for free school meals is ordinarily term time only. However, owing to the COVID-19 outbreak, the government understands that children and parents face an entirely unprecedented situation over the summer. To reflect this, we will be providing additional funding for a COVID Summer Food Fund which will enable families with children who are eligible for benefits-related free school meals to receive food vouchers covering the 6-week holiday period. Our guidance on the COVID Summer Food Fund is available here:
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/covid-summer-food-fund.

The department’s contract with Edenred for supplying both the national free school meals voucher scheme and the COVID Summer Food Fund will expire on 31 August 2020.

We have announced details of the COVID Summer Food Fund in our daily bulletin to schools and on social media. A link to information on the COVID Summer Food Fund has been added to our guidance on providing free school meals during the COVID-19 outbreak here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-free-school-meals-guidance/covid-19-free-school-meals-guidance-for-schools.

Edenred have also emailed all eligible schools with information about the fund and the deadlines for placing orders. We have discussed these arrangements with teaching unions and wider stakeholders. When the national voucher scheme was set up, Edenred sent emails to all eligible schools, containing a link with which to activate their accounts. All eligible schools that had not yet activated their account were sent a new link in the week commencing 22 June 2020.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
25th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans he has to fund universal infant free school meals from September 2020.

Universal infant free school meals will continue in the 2020-21 academic year, providing a free nutritious lunch to pupils in Reception, Year 1, and Year 2. Details of school allocations will be published shortly.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
25th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to monitor spending of the pupil premium during the covid-19 outbreak.

All local authority-maintained schools, and most academies and free schools, are required to publish and maintain an online pupil premium strategy statement that sets out the rationale for their spending decisions and how the impact of the approaches chosen will be measured.

In planning their pupil premium expenditure, schools are encouraged to make use of high quality evidence on effective practice in raising disadvantaged pupils’ attainment, such as that published by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) on its website, which is available here:
http://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk.

Based on extensive research conducted since 2011, the EEF recommends that schools give priority in their pupil premium spending to recruiting and developing high quality teachers, followed by targeted academic support and wider strategies to address non-academic barriers to success in school.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
25th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many children with No Recourse to Public Funds have been in receipt of free school meals since his Department extended provision to that group.

As both my right hon. Friends, the Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer, have made clear, the government will do whatever it takes to support people affected by COVID-19.

Our latest guidance for schools on free school meals is available here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-free-school-meals-guidance/covid-19-free-school-meals-guidance-for-schools.

During the COVID-19 outbreak, we are temporarily extending free school meal eligibility to include some children of groups who have no recourse to public funds. As per our published guidance, the extension is temporarily in place to support families facing difficulties due to the current unique circumstances. These extensions will end when schools have reopened to all children. The guidance is available at:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-free-school-meals-guidance/guidance-for-the-temporary-extension-of-free-school-meals-eligibility-to-nrpf-groups.

We do not hold information on the number of children of groups who have no recourse to public funds that have received free school meals since we extended eligibility during this period.

These are rapidly developing circumstances. We continue to keep the situation under review and will keep Parliament updated accordingly.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
25th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many pupil premium applications have been received since the closure of schools in England as a result of the covid-19 outbreak; and what effect those applications have had on the number of children eligible for free school meals.

The allocation of pupil premium funding to schools does not involve an application process. It is based on the number of pupils on roll at the time of the January school census who have been registered for benefits-based free school meals at any point in the last six years; or are currently looked after; or have left care through adoption, a special guardianship order or child arrangements order.

Details of pupil premium allocations to schools in the financial year 2020-21 are available at:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/pupil-premium-allocations-and-conditions-of-grant-2020-to-2021.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
25th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what estimate he has made of the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on the number of children (a) eligible for and (b) receiving free school meals in England.

The latest school census data published on 25 June 2020 in ‘Schools, pupils and their characteristics’ shows that the number of pupils known to be eligible for free school meals is over 1.4 million, as of January 2020. The data is available here:
https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/find-statistics/school-pupils-and-their-characteristics.

We do not hold information on the number of children that have become eligible for benefits-related free school meals due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
8th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what estimate his Department has made of the number of children who (a) are eligible for free school meals and (b) have become eligible for free school meals in each nation of the UK since March 2020.

The number of children who are (a) eligible for free school meals, is published in the ‘Schools, pupils and their characteristics’ publication. The latest data shows that in England in January 2019, for all school types, 15.4% of pupils were eligible for and claiming free school meals. Data from January 2020 is scheduled for publication on 25th June 2020. The latest publication is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/schools-pupils-and-their-characteristics-january-2019.

Note that this publication only covers England as education is devolved across the UK.

The number of children who (b) have become eligible for free school meals in each nation of the UK since March 2020 is not available.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
8th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how much funding his Department has allocated to (a) the free school meals budget, (b) free school meal vouchers and (c) reimbursing schools for other means of providing free school meals in each week since 20 March 2020.

The department provides free school meals for 1.3 million of the most disadvantaged children. This funding is equivalent to £2.30 per meal, saving families around £400 a year. During this period, we are asking schools to support children at home who are eligible for and claiming benefits-related free school meals, by providing meals or food parcels through their existing food providers wherever possible. However, we recognise that providing meals and food parcels is not a practicable option for all schools. That is why on 31 March, we launched a national voucher scheme as an alternative option, with costs covered by the department.

As of Monday 8 June, Edenred has reported that over £139 million worth of voucher codes has been redeemed into supermarket e-gift cards by schools and families through the scheme. Edenred has reported that over 17,500 schools had placed orders for the scheme as of Tuesday 26th May.

We are continuing to provide schools with their expected funding, including funding to cover benefits-related free school meals and universal infant free school meals, throughout this period. However, if schools are unable to use the national voucher scheme and choose an alternative approach, they can be reimbursed through the exceptional costs fund, where the costs cannot be met from their existing resources. Further details are available here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-financial-support-for-schools.

Provision for free school meals is ordinarily term time only. However, during the Easter holidays and May half term break, the department met the costs of the national voucher scheme. This was in recognition of the unprecedented levels of disruption and uncertainty for schools during this time. As schools open more widely, and their kitchens reopen, we expect schools to make food parcels available for collection or delivery for any children that are eligible for free school meals who are not yet able to return to school. Where this is not possible, schools can continue to offer vouchers to eligible pupils. It is not intended for the national voucher scheme to run during the summer holidays.

The government has made significant wider support available for children and families. On 10 June, my right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister, confirmed an additional £63 million to be distributed to local authorities in England to help those who are struggling to afford food and other essentials due to COVID-19. Thousands of disadvantaged children will also receive additional support over the summer through our Holiday Activities and Food programme which offers activities and free meals. In addition, the government has introduced an uplift to Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit by around £1,000 a year for the next 12 months as part of an injection of over £6.5 billion by government into the welfare system. Additionally, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs are providing £16 million for food support through charities including FareShare and WRAP.

These are rapidly developing circumstances. We continue to keep the situation under review and will keep Parliament updated accordingly.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
8th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what estimate his Department has made of the cost of funding the continued provision of free school meals over the summer holidays in 2020.

The department provides free school meals for 1.3 million of the most disadvantaged children. This funding is equivalent to £2.30 per meal, saving families around £400 a year. During this period, we are asking schools to support children at home who are eligible for and claiming benefits-related free school meals, by providing meals or food parcels through their existing food providers wherever possible. However, we recognise that providing meals and food parcels is not a practicable option for all schools. That is why on 31 March, we launched a national voucher scheme as an alternative option, with costs covered by the department.

As of Monday 8 June, Edenred has reported that over £139 million worth of voucher codes has been redeemed into supermarket e-gift cards by schools and families through the scheme. Edenred has reported that over 17,500 schools had placed orders for the scheme as of Tuesday 26th May.

We are continuing to provide schools with their expected funding, including funding to cover benefits-related free school meals and universal infant free school meals, throughout this period. However, if schools are unable to use the national voucher scheme and choose an alternative approach, they can be reimbursed through the exceptional costs fund, where the costs cannot be met from their existing resources. Further details are available here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-financial-support-for-schools.

Provision for free school meals is ordinarily term time only. However, during the Easter holidays and May half term break, the department met the costs of the national voucher scheme. This was in recognition of the unprecedented levels of disruption and uncertainty for schools during this time. As schools open more widely, and their kitchens reopen, we expect schools to make food parcels available for collection or delivery for any children that are eligible for free school meals who are not yet able to return to school. Where this is not possible, schools can continue to offer vouchers to eligible pupils. It is not intended for the national voucher scheme to run during the summer holidays.

The government has made significant wider support available for children and families. On 10 June, my right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister, confirmed an additional £63 million to be distributed to local authorities in England to help those who are struggling to afford food and other essentials due to COVID-19. Thousands of disadvantaged children will also receive additional support over the summer through our Holiday Activities and Food programme which offers activities and free meals. In addition, the government has introduced an uplift to Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit by around £1,000 a year for the next 12 months as part of an injection of over £6.5 billion by government into the welfare system. Additionally, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs are providing £16 million for food support through charities including FareShare and WRAP.

These are rapidly developing circumstances. We continue to keep the situation under review and will keep Parliament updated accordingly.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
3rd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, on what date the contract for Edenred to deliver the national free school meal voucher scheme in England expires; and what plans he has to (a) renew that contract and (b) find an alternative company to deliver that scheme.

The contract with Edenred is due for review by 22 June and we are currently considering how the scheme will operate through the remaining period of the summer term.

These are rapidly developing circumstances. We continue to keep the situation under review and will keep Parliament updated accordingly.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
3rd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, pursuant to the Answer of 1 June 2020 to Question 48566 on Free School Meals: Voucher Schemes, on what date the first e-Code email that hard bounced was sent prior to being discovered by Edenred on the weekend starting 2 May 2020; for what reason there was a gap between that discovery and Edenred contacting schools to alert them to the problem on 7 May 2020; and what estimate he has made of the number of eligible children who missed out on free school meals as a result of that issue.

During this period, we are asking schools to support children at home who are eligible for and claiming benefits-related free school meals by providing meals or food parcels through their existing food providers wherever possible. However, we recognise that providing meals and food parcels is not a practicable option for all schools. That is why on 31 March, we launched a national voucher scheme as an alternative option, with costs covered by the department.

For the national voucher scheme, our supplier, Edenred, has indicated that orders are processed within four days. The latest information provided by Edenred indicates that parents and schools are facing minimal or no waiting time for orders that are placed online, despite continued growth in the number of parents and schools using the scheme.

We do not hold data regarding the timescale of individual hard bounces, but we can confirm that Edenred acted promptly upon discovering the issue. On 7 May, Edenred issued communications to schools with hard bounce backs to let them know that they had input incorrect parent email addresses. Further to this, in the week commencing 11 May, Edenred issued additional communications to schools to address a number of incomplete orders which required further action from the schools, and again highlighted that some orders used incorrect or invalid parent email addresses.

We are continuing to work very closely with Edenred to improve the performance of the national voucher scheme. The scheme continues to get easier and faster to use, putting supermarket vouchers into the hands of thousands of families and schools.

The department is closely monitoring the delivery of the national voucher scheme. However, we do not hold information on provision for each eligible family.

As of Wednesday 3 June, Edenred has reported that over £129 million worth of voucher codes had been redeemed into supermarket e-gift cards by schools and families through the scheme. Edenred has reported that over 17,500 schools had placed orders for the scheme as of Tuesday 26 May.

These are rapidly developing circumstances. We continue to keep the situation under review and will keep Parliament updated accordingly.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
3rd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans he has to support the families of pupils on free school meals over the school summer holidays in 2020.

Provision for free school meals is ordinarily term time only. However, owing to the COVID-19 outbreak, the government fully understands that children and parents face an entirely unprecedented situation over the summer. To reflect this, we will be providing additional funding for a Covid Summer Food Fund which will enable children who are eligible for free school meals to receive food vouchers covering the 6-week holiday period. This is a specific measure to reflect the unique circumstances of the outbreak.

The government has made significant wider support available for children and families at this time. On 10 June, my right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister, confirmed an additional £63 million to be distributed to local authorities in England to help those who are struggling to afford food and other essentials due to COVID-19. In addition, the government has introduced an uplift to Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit by around £1,000 a year for the next 12 months as part of an injection of over £6.5 billion by the government into the welfare system.

Additional support has been pledged by various departments across government with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) announcing the provision of £16 million for food support through charities, including FareShare and WRAP. DEFRA have also issued 2 million food packages to those who are shielding.

The Department for Education’s Holiday Activities and Food programme ensures that thousands of disadvantaged children have access to enriching activities and nutritious healthy meals over the summer, and will be backed by £9 million this year.

More widely, the government has supported families to cope with the impact of COVID-19 by introducing a range of support measures, including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme. Support has also been provided to help families pay their rent or mortgage, access sick pay, and delay tax payments.

In relation to free school meals, this response applies to educational settings in England only. Education is a devolved matter and it will be for each administration to determine the actions they wish to take.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, pursuant to the Answer of 19 May 2020 to Question 45341 on Children: Social Services and Special Educational Needs, if he will publish the Children’s Rights Impact Assessment that was undertaken for the recent changes to the regulations for children’s social care.

A copy of the Children’s Right Impact Assessment that was undertaken for The Adoption and Children (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 is attached.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
20th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference the guidance published by his Department on 24 March 2020 entitled Actions for early years and childcare providers during the coronavirus outbreak, when the temporary changes enabling parents that do not meet the minimum income threshold, due to lower earnings as a result of the covid-19 outbreak, to remain eligible for the 30 hours free entitlement came into force; when the application process will be updated to reflect that change; and how that change is being communicated to parents that are affected.

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) have revised the application and reconfirmation process to temporarily enable parents whose income has been affected by COVID-19 to remain eligible for the 30 hours free entitlement. A press notice was issued about these changes on 5 May, and we have also communicated this change via email to local authorities.

Guidance was published on 7 May and is available on gov.uk at:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/check-if-you-can-get-tax-free-childcare-and-30-hours-free-childcare-during-coronavirus-covid-19, and also on the Childcare Choices website:

https://www.childcarechoices.gov.uk/coronavirus/.

HMRC call centres are able to respond to parents’ enquiries.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
20th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, pursuant to the Answer of 19 May 2020 to Question 45341 on Children: Social Services and Special Educational Needs, for what reasons a Children’s Rights Impact Assessment was undertaken for the recent changes to the regulations for children’s social care but not for the recent changes to the regulations for children’s special education needs and disabilities (SEND) provision.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 19 May 2020 to Question 45341. As I set out in my answer, the potential impact on children and young people was a key factor in deciding what temporary changes to legislation would be appropriate.

We are confident that the impact on children and young people was fully considered in relation to the temporary changes to both sets of regulations and Equality Impact Assessments were carried out. We will continue to consider this as we keep the impact of these changes under review.

There is ministerial commitment to consider children’s rights when making new policy and law, but Children’s Rights Impact Assessments (CRIAs) are not a statutory requirement. The CRIA template is available to provide a helpful structure for policy makers to be able to evidence their consideration of children’s rights. Regarding the changes to the regulations for children’s special education needs and disabilities (SEND), the department considered that the statutory Equality Impact Assessment gave sufficient consideration to the impact on children so as not to require a separate CRIA.


Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the removal by The Adoption and Children (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 of the requirement to inspect children’s homes twice a year which have been judged requires improvement or inadequate, what assessment he has made of (a) in what circumstances and (b) at what frequency those children's homes should be so inspected.

The Adoption and Children (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 suspend the routine inspections of children’s homes until 25 September 2020. The need for these regulations is being kept under review. Ofsted continues to have powers under section 31 of the Care Standards Act 2000 to request information from and to inspect children’s homes. It has risk assessed all children’s homes and is undertaking off-site and on-site activity to monitor provision where necessary.

Ofsted is working with the department to consider how best to return to routine inspection when the time is right. Risk assessment, including the previous inspection judgement, will inform priorities.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to Ofsted's announcement of 17 March 2020 on the temporary suspension of routine Ofsted inspections of schools, further education, early years and social care providers, under which powers that suspension was made; on what date that suspension came into effect; and whether that suspension includes inspections of children’s homes.

On 17 March, the Secretary of State announced the temporary suspension of routine Ofsted inspections in the school, further education, early years, local authority and care sectors. The suspension, which includes routine inspections of children’s homes, took effect from that date, although legislative measures have followed subsequently.

The Government remains fully committed to inspection by Ofsted, and routine inspection will resume at the appropriate time. In the meantime, Ofsted may use its inspection powers if it has significant safeguarding concerns.

Section 5 of the Education Act 2005 places a duty on HM Chief Inspector to inspect state-funded schools at prescribed intervals. This duty has been temporarily suspended under the Coronavirus Act 2020 Disapplication of sections 5(1), 15(3), 17(2), 48(3) and 49(1) and (2) of the Education Act 2005 (England) Notice 2020, which took effect from 1 May 2020.

Ofsted’s routine inspection of further education and skills take place under Part 8 of the Education and Inspections Act 2006. These provisions do not require amendment during this period as there are no statutory requirements for inspection intervals.

Routine inspections of independent schools by Ofsted take place on a direction from the Secretary of State under section 109 of the Education and Skills Act 2008. On 25 March, the Secretary of State confirmed to HM Chief Inspector that standard inspections of independent schools by Ofsted did not need to take place until further notice.

The period within which Ofsted must inspect provision registered on the early years register, as required by section 49(2) of the Childcare Act 2006, is specified by the Secretary of State. On 25 March, the Secretary of State confirmed to HM Chief Inspector that Ofsted will not be required to undertake regular inspections of provision registered on the early years or childcare register until further notice.

The prescribed intervals within which Ofsted must inspect childminder agencies as required by Section 51D(1)(a) and 61E(1)(a) of the Childcare Act 2006 are specified by the Secretary of State. On 25 March, the Secretary of State confirmed to HM Chief Inspector that Ofsted will not be required to undertake regular inspections of childminder agencies, until further notice.

In relation to the inspection of local authority children’s services, HM Chief Inspector has a power to inspect generally and a duty to inspect at the request of the Secretary of State under section 136 of the Education and Inspections Act 2006. No amendment during this period was necessary as there are no statutory requirements for inspection intervals.

The frequency of routine inspections for establishments and agencies (children’s homes, residential family centres, holiday schemes for disabled children, voluntary adoption agencies, adoption support agencies and fostering agencies) are provided for by regulation 27 of HM Chief Inspector of Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Fees and Frequency of Inspections) (Children’s Homes etc.) Regulations 2015. This regulation was temporarily revoked by the Adoption and Children (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 with the effect that routine inspections of these establishments and agencies are suspended until 25 September 2020. This will be kept under review.

18th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to help ensure that Edenred follows up on individual cases of (a) schools or (b) families being unable to access free school meal vouchers.

We have been working very closely with our national free school meals voucher supplier, Edenred, to improve the performance of the scheme. Edenred has made a number of enhancements to the system to ensure that schools can place orders easily and families can receive this much needed support as swiftly as possible. This includes improvements to significantly reduce waiting times to access the website to order or redeem voucher codes.

Additionally, Edenred has identified a number of voucher code emails which had not been delivered as schools had entered an incorrect email address for the parent or carer. Edenred contacted all schools affected to alert them and to provide guidance on how they could issue new voucher codes to families.

Edenred has reported that over £101.5 million worth of voucher codes have been redeemed into supermarket eGift cards by schools and families through the scheme as of Friday 22 May. Edenred has also reported that 17,000 schools had placed orders for the scheme as of Tuesday 12 May. We are very grateful to families and schools for their understanding and patience while this service has been upgraded to meet demand.

These are rapidly developing circumstances; we continue to keep the situation under review and will keep Parliament updated accordingly.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
18th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to Edenred's briefing of 18 May 2020, Delivering the free school meal voucher scheme: MP progress report, on what date he was made aware of the finding in that briefing that, Poor data which has been logged into the system by schools [has] result[ed] in c. 40,000 (3.5 per cent) hard email bounces; and what steps his Department is taking to ensure that that issue is resolved.

Voucher codes are being processed through the national scheme and many thousands of families are redeeming them. Our national voucher scheme supplier, Edenred, has reported that over £110 million worth of voucher codes has been redeemed into supermarket eGift cards by schools and families through the scheme as of the 27 May. We have been working closely with Edenred to improve the scheme, and the programme of developments has significantly increased the speed of access to the platforms, processing times for orders and distribution of valuable support to families.

As part of this ongoing focus, over the weekend of 2 and 3 May, Edenred identified that a number of eCode emails had ‘hard bounced’, meaning that the eCode had not been delivered as schools had entered an incorrect email address for the parent or carer. On 7 May, Edenred contacted all schools affected to alert them and to provide guidance on how they could issue new eCodes to families. Edenred continue to engage with the relevant schools via telephone and to raise the subject in emails to schools.

These are rapidly developing circumstances; we continue to keep the situation under review and will keep Parliament updated accordingly.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
13th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many local authorities have used the new flexibilities on statutory duties for children’s social under the Adoption and Children (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020.

Local authorities are not required to log this information with the department; however, we are working with the sector to monitor their use. We are not currently aware of any local authorities having made use of the new flexibilities.

Following the temporary regulation changes made on Friday 24 April, it is for local authorities to decide whether it is appropriate to make use of these flexibilities, taking account of all available information. Decisions to do so will need to be agreed at senior manager level and recorded. Amendments should only be used when absolutely necessary and must be consistent with the overarching safeguarding and welfare duties that remain in place. We expect the regulator/inspector of services, Ofsted, to take note of any use of these flexibilities, so local authorities should be ready to explain why their use was necessary. Guidance relating to the amendments is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-childrens-social-care-services.

As both my right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer have made clear, the government will do whatever it takes to support people affected by COVID 19.

Our latest guidance on vulnerable children is set out below:https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-schools-and-other-educational-settings.

These are rapidly developing circumstances; we continue to keep the situation under review and will keep Parliament updated accordingly.

46754

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
13th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many times (a) he and (b) Minister and officials of his Department have met (i) children in care and (ii) children identified as being in need in the last six months.

As both my right hon. Friends, the Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer have made clear, the government will do whatever it takes to support people affected by COVID-19.

Our latest guidance on vulnerable children is set out below:

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-schools-and-other-educational-settings.

These are rapidly developing circumstances; we continue to keep the situation under review and will keep Parliament updated accordingly.

Ministers and officials meet regularly with children in care and their representatives, as well as with those that represent children in need.

Officials and ministers are also in regular contact with colleagues from other departments. These departments, including the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and associated agencies, have provided a range of guidance for relevant staff and practitioners and continue to provide updates as needed.

The department, along with the Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel, has put out a communication to safeguarding partnerships and officials from the department, the Home Office and DHSC are in weekly contact with representatives from the safeguarding partnerships to work with them during the pandemic.

The department has recently launched a new local authority data collection to capture up-to-date information on both the number of referrals to children’s social care and children starting to be looked after. We are currently reviewing the responses to the survey and analysing the data. The findings will inform the department’s on-going support to local authorities in meeting the needs of vulnerable children and families.

Following temporary amendments to The Adoption and Children (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations, the department has published comprehensive guidance for children’s social care services. This is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-childrens-social-care-services.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
13th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether his Department plans to publish guidance to local safeguarding partnerships on how to respond to covid-19.

As both my right hon. Friends, the Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer have made clear, the government will do whatever it takes to support people affected by COVID-19.

Our latest guidance on vulnerable children is set out below:

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-schools-and-other-educational-settings.

These are rapidly developing circumstances; we continue to keep the situation under review and will keep Parliament updated accordingly.

Ministers and officials meet regularly with children in care and their representatives, as well as with those that represent children in need.

Officials and ministers are also in regular contact with colleagues from other departments. These departments, including the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and associated agencies, have provided a range of guidance for relevant staff and practitioners and continue to provide updates as needed.

The department, along with the Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel, has put out a communication to safeguarding partnerships and officials from the department, the Home Office and DHSC are in weekly contact with representatives from the safeguarding partnerships to work with them during the pandemic.

The department has recently launched a new local authority data collection to capture up-to-date information on both the number of referrals to children’s social care and children starting to be looked after. We are currently reviewing the responses to the survey and analysing the data. The findings will inform the department’s on-going support to local authorities in meeting the needs of vulnerable children and families.

Following temporary amendments to The Adoption and Children (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations, the department has published comprehensive guidance for children’s social care services. This is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-childrens-social-care-services.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
13th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what estimate he has made of the number of (a) referrals made to children’s services and (b) social care placements since the beginning of the covid-19 outbreak.

As both my right hon. Friends, the Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer have made clear, the government will do whatever it takes to support people affected by COVID-19.

Our latest guidance on vulnerable children is set out below:

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-schools-and-other-educational-settings.

These are rapidly developing circumstances; we continue to keep the situation under review and will keep Parliament updated accordingly.

Ministers and officials meet regularly with children in care and their representatives, as well as with those that represent children in need.

Officials and ministers are also in regular contact with colleagues from other departments. These departments, including the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and associated agencies, have provided a range of guidance for relevant staff and practitioners and continue to provide updates as needed.

The department, along with the Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel, has put out a communication to safeguarding partnerships and officials from the department, the Home Office and DHSC are in weekly contact with representatives from the safeguarding partnerships to work with them during the pandemic.

The department has recently launched a new local authority data collection to capture up-to-date information on both the number of referrals to children’s social care and children starting to be looked after. We are currently reviewing the responses to the survey and analysing the data. The findings will inform the department’s on-going support to local authorities in meeting the needs of vulnerable children and families.

Following temporary amendments to The Adoption and Children (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations, the department has published comprehensive guidance for children’s social care services. This is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-childrens-social-care-services.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
13th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what discussions officials in his Department have had with (a) Public Health England and (b) officials in other Government departments on the effect on children's services of changes to health visiting during the covid-19 outbreak.

As both my right hon. Friends, the Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer have made clear, the government will do whatever it takes to support people affected by COVID-19.

Our latest guidance on vulnerable children is set out below:

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-schools-and-other-educational-settings.

These are rapidly developing circumstances; we continue to keep the situation under review and will keep Parliament updated accordingly.

Ministers and officials meet regularly with children in care and their representatives, as well as with those that represent children in need.

Officials and ministers are also in regular contact with colleagues from other departments. These departments, including the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and associated agencies, have provided a range of guidance for relevant staff and practitioners and continue to provide updates as needed.

The department, along with the Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel, has put out a communication to safeguarding partnerships and officials from the department, the Home Office and DHSC are in weekly contact with representatives from the safeguarding partnerships to work with them during the pandemic.

The department has recently launched a new local authority data collection to capture up-to-date information on both the number of referrals to children’s social care and children starting to be looked after. We are currently reviewing the responses to the survey and analysing the data. The findings will inform the department’s on-going support to local authorities in meeting the needs of vulnerable children and families.

Following temporary amendments to The Adoption and Children (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations, the department has published comprehensive guidance for children’s social care services. This is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-childrens-social-care-services.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
13th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what discussions his Department has had with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government on (a) changes to the operation of the Troubled Families programme during the covid-19 outbreak and (b) the effect of those changes on children’s services.

As both my right hon. Friends, the Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer have made clear, the government will do whatever it takes to support people affected by COVID-19.

Our latest guidance on vulnerable children is set out below:

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-schools-and-other-educational-settings.

These are rapidly developing circumstances; we continue to keep the situation under review and will keep Parliament updated accordingly.

Ministers and officials meet regularly with children in care and their representatives, as well as with those that represent children in need.

Officials and ministers are also in regular contact with colleagues from other departments. These departments, including the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and associated agencies, have provided a range of guidance for relevant staff and practitioners and continue to provide updates as needed.

The department, along with the Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel, has put out a communication to safeguarding partnerships and officials from the department, the Home Office and DHSC are in weekly contact with representatives from the safeguarding partnerships to work with them during the pandemic.

The department has recently launched a new local authority data collection to capture up-to-date information on both the number of referrals to children’s social care and children starting to be looked after. We are currently reviewing the responses to the survey and analysing the data. The findings will inform the department’s on-going support to local authorities in meeting the needs of vulnerable children and families.

Following temporary amendments to The Adoption and Children (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations, the department has published comprehensive guidance for children’s social care services. This is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-childrens-social-care-services.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
11th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether his Department has undertaken a Children’s Rights Impact Assessment for recent changes to the regulations for (a) children’s social care and (b) children’s SEND provision.

A Children’s Rights Impact Assessment was undertaken for the recent changes to the regulations for children’s social care but not for the recent changes to the regulations for children’s special education needs and disabilities (SEND) provision. An Equality Impact Assessment was also conducted for both.

The potential impact on children and young people was a key factor in deciding what temporary changes to legislation would be appropriate. Both sets of regulations include a range of safeguards to limit any adverse impact, such as the Secretary of State for Education being under a duty to keep the effect of the legislative changes under review.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
11th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to prevent children who were excluded from school just before school closures in March 2020 being exploited by criminals.

As both my right hon. Friends, the Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer have made clear, the government will do whatever it takes to support people affected by COVID-19.

Our latest guidance is set out below:

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-schools-and-other-educational-settings.

This includes specific guidance for education settings (including alternative provision settings) and local authorities about children supported through social care, with education, health and care plans or identified as vulnerable by their school or local authority and who are therefore in need of continued education provision.

In addition, the Home Office is working closely with other government departments to allocate a proportion of the £750 million funding for charities announced by my right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer last month. This includes a total of £34.15 million in emergency support for charities helping vulnerable children who have been impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak (this includes funds distributed by the Home Office and the Department for Education).

The Home Office has invested £70 million into Violence Reduction Units (VRUs) to help tackle serious violence in the 18 worst affected areas. VRUs are non-statutory partnerships which offer leadership and strategic coordination of the local response to serious violence by bringing together police, local government, health and education professionals, community leaders and other key partners to identify the drivers of serious violence and agree a multi-agency response to them. Across VRUs there are a total of 26 educational interventions planned for the 2020/21 financial year, however, due to COVID-19 VRUs instead have mobilised new virtual interventions to ensure activity is still underway despite school closures and social distancing.

In response to COVID-19, on 6 May the Youth Endowment Fund (YEF) launched a £6.5 million fund to support vulnerable young people at risk of youth violence, particularly through finding the best ways to reach and support them under the current social distancing guidelines. The objective of the YEF is to prevent children and young people at the highest risk of involvement in serious violence, from becoming involved in crime and violence, including reoffending.

The £13 million Trusted Relationships Fund (2018 – 2022) funds 11 different local authorities across England delivering innovative approaches to supporting children and young people aged 10 to 17 at risk of child sexual exploitation or abuse, criminal exploitation and peer on peer abuse. Restrictions associated with the response to COVID-19 have meant that local authorities have had to adapt their projects, introducing phone or video-based mentoring sessions, online support and group based social activities.

The Department for Education is also funding a £2 million Tackling Child Exploitation support programme to help safeguarding partners in local areas develop an effective response to extra-familial harms such as child sexual and child criminal exploitation. The programme has facilitated some interactive online discussions recently to explore the implications of COVID-19 on young people facing exploitation and external threats.

This government is also investing £20 million this year to crack down on the county lines gangs who are exploiting our children and having a devastating impact on our communities. This includes investment to significantly uplift the law enforcement response to county lines, develop several wider national capabilities and increase specialist support for young people and their families who are affected by county lines exploitation.

These are rapidly developing circumstances; we continue to keep the situation under review and will keep Parliament updated accordingly.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
5th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many local authorities have requested easements on statutory duties for (a) children’s social care and (b) special educational needs provision since the start of the covid-19 outbreak; and what assessment he has made of the effect of those absences on the adequacy of provision of those services.

As both my right hon. Friends, the Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer, have made clear, the Government will do whatever it takes to support people affected by COVID-19.

Our latest guidance on supporting vulnerable children is available here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-schools-and-other-educational-settings.

Following the regulation changes made on Friday 24 April, decisions to make use of the flexibilities provided for children’s social care need to be agreed at senior manager level and decisions properly recorded. The amendments should only be used when absolutely necessary and must be consistent with the overarching safeguarding and welfare duties that remain in place. Guidance relating to the regulation changes is available here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-childrens-social-care-services.

The temporary changes to special educational needs and disabilities law came into force on Friday 1 May. They modify various duties on local authorities, health commissioning bodies and others, principally in relation to education, health and care needs assessments and plans.

Detail of the rationale for the changes and the intended impact is set out in:

These are rapidly developing circumstances. We continue to keep the situation under review and will keep Parliament updated accordingly.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
5th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, which organisations he consulted before bringing forward the Special Educational Needs and Disability (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020.

The Explanatory Memorandum to these Regulations outlined the nature of the consultation conducted. It states the following:

“10.1 Given the importance of acting swiftly to change the law so as to free up local authorities, health commissioning bodies and the other public bodies concerned to respond to the current national public health emergency, no formal consultation was conducted. There is no legal requirement to consult on changes to the timescales covered in this instrument.

10.2 We have, however, discussed the principle of amending the timescales and why urgent action is needed with a range of stakeholders, including representative bodies for local authorities and parents of children with SEND and a number of specialist SEND organisations.”

We routinely work across government and with a wide range of special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) stakeholders and this has been more important than ever since the outbreak of COVID-19. One of the matters discussed in depth over recent weeks has been the need for emergency legislation, the drafting of the guidance to accompany it and the impact of the changes to the law. Stakeholders with whom we have had such conversations include the Council for Disabled Children, the National Network for Parent Carer Forums, Contact, the Association of Directors of Children’s Services and the Local Government Association.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the covid-19 outbreak, if his Department will (a) undertake an impact assessment on mental health of staff in the early years sector and (b) put in place safeguarding measures and support for people in that sector as required.

Those who work in the education and childcare sector rightly take their place next to our NHS staff and other critical workers as central to our efforts in battling COVID-19. We are keenly aware that the extraordinary measures that have been taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19 present an unprecedented challenge for childcare settings and their workers, as well as the communities they serve. We appreciate the selfless dedication that childcare staff demonstrate in their work every single day. We encourage childcare providers to continue to monitor and support the wellbeing of all their staff at this time.

Guidance for early years settings is published at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-early-years-and-childcare-closures.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
23rd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether (a) childminders and (b) other childcare providers outside of formal nursery settings will be required to provide childcare to critical workers and parents of vulnerable children during the covid-19 pandemic.

To limit the chance of the COVID-19 spreading, the government has asked parents to keep their children at home, wherever possible, and asked education settings to remain open only for children of critical workers and the most vulnerable. This applies to Ofsted-registered childcare settings, including childminders, nurseries and wraparound childcare and clubs (before and after school, and holiday care).

Guidance for early years settings is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-early-years-and-childcare-closures/coronavirus-covid-19-early-years-and-childcare-closures.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
23rd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what childcare provision early years settings will provide for pre-school children who are vulnerable or whose parents are critical workers during the covid-19 outbreak; and whether there will be changes to the regulations on (a) qualifications of staff and (b) staff to child ratios.

Early years and childcare settings, including childminders, nurseries and wraparound childcare and clubs (before- and after- school and holiday care) remain open for children who are vulnerable or whose parents are critical workers.

Guidance for early years providers is available at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-early-years-and-childcare-closures/coronavirus-covid-19-early-years-and-childcare-closures.

The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) statutory framework welfare and safeguarding requirements still apply, including qualifications of staff and staff to child ratios. However, we are amending the regulations that will allow for the temporary lifting/modifying of a small number of requirements within the EYFS. The EYFS already allows for ratio flexibility in exceptional circumstances. For the qualification requirements providers will be able to use reasonable endeavours to ensure that at least half of staff (excluding the manager) hold at least a full and relevant Level 2 qualification to meet staff:child ratio requirements, but this will not be a legal requirement. In maintained nursery schools and nursery classes in maintained schools caring for children aged three and over, settings should use their reasonable endeavours to ensure that at least one member of staff is a school teacher. Where this is not possible settings will be able to have one member of staff for every eight children, at least one member of staff who holds at least a full and relevant level 3 qualification and providers should use their reasonable endeavours to ensure that at least half of other staff hold at least a full and relevant level 2 qualification.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
17th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether local authorities will continue funding free childcare entitlements throughout the covid-19 outbreak.

Childcare providers are making a vital contribution in our fight against COVID-19. Following the Prime Minister’s announcement on 18 March, they will continue to do so by focusing on childcare for the children of critical workers, and vulnerable children. To assist this change, the Department for Education has confirmed that it will not claw back funding from local authorities for any periods of closures where settings are closed or children are not able to attend due to COVID-19. The government expects local authorities to follow the department’s position, and continue early years entitlements funding for childminders, pre-schools and nurseries. This should also apply to those infant and primary schools that deliver the early years entitlements. This will minimise short-term disruptions to early years providers’ finances and allow the system to recover more quickly.

The Chancellor has also announced a package of support for businesses that will include many early years and childcare providers. This includes business rates relief, a range of loans and grants and the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. This scheme allows all UK employers access to support to continue paying part of their employees’ salary for those employees that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis. HMRC will reimburse 80% of furloughed workers wage costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month.

We have also issued guidance for local authorities and providers about childcare for specific groups. However, we recognise that when all adults in a household are hospitalised, and there are no family and friends able to provide support, children may need to be cared for in emergency and temporary foster care until parents recover.

The department continues to work alongside Public Health England and early years and children’s social care sector representatives to ensure support is in place for children that need it, and that all measures taken are in the best interests of the health of our nation.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
17th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps the Government plans to take to provide childcare support to key workers during the covid-19 outbreak if nurseries are forced to close.

Childcare providers are making a vital contribution in our fight against COVID-19. Following the Prime Minister’s announcement on 18 March, they will continue to do so by focusing on childcare for the children of critical workers, and vulnerable children. To assist this change, the Department for Education has confirmed that it will not claw back funding from local authorities for any periods of closures where settings are closed or children are not able to attend due to COVID-19. The government expects local authorities to follow the department’s position, and continue early years entitlements funding for childminders, pre-schools and nurseries. This should also apply to those infant and primary schools that deliver the early years entitlements. This will minimise short-term disruptions to early years providers’ finances and allow the system to recover more quickly.

The Chancellor has also announced a package of support for businesses that will include many early years and childcare providers. This includes business rates relief, a range of loans and grants and the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. This scheme allows all UK employers access to support to continue paying part of their employees’ salary for those employees that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis. HMRC will reimburse 80% of furloughed workers wage costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month.

We have also issued guidance for local authorities and providers about childcare for specific groups. However, we recognise that when all adults in a household are hospitalised, and there are no family and friends able to provide support, children may need to be cared for in emergency and temporary foster care until parents recover.

The department continues to work alongside Public Health England and early years and children’s social care sector representatives to ensure support is in place for children that need it, and that all measures taken are in the best interests of the health of our nation.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
17th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what proportion of childcare providers provided the Government's free childcare entitlements in each of the last 10 years, by (a) area, (b) type of childcare provider and (c) type of entitlement.

A time series of the number and type of provider delivering the different funded childcare entitlements can be found within tables 12, 13 and 14 of the following statistical release: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/education-provision-children-under-5-years-of-age-january-2019. We do not publish what proportion of the childcare market this represents.

The attached table shows the recent estimate the Department for Education has made on the number of children benefiting from funded early education and the number eligible.

Figures for previous years on the number of children benefiting and the percentage of the eligible population this represents, can be found within Tables 1 to 8LA of the following statistical release: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/education-provision-children-under-5-years-of-age-january-2019.

The Department for Education does not hold data on the number of families who are eligible for Tax Free Childcare as HM Revenue & Customs are responsible for the administration of the Tax Free Childcare Scheme.

We recognise that maintained nursery schools are an important part of the early years sector and provide valuable services to disadvantaged children. However, the Department for Education does not hold data on the number of families who are eligible for a maintained school nursery place.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
17th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent estimate his Department has made of the number of families that are eligible for (a) free childcare entitlements, (b) tax-free childcare and (c) maintained nursery school places and that do not take up that entitlement.

A time series of the number and type of provider delivering the different funded childcare entitlements can be found within tables 12, 13 and 14 of the following statistical release: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/education-provision-children-under-5-years-of-age-january-2019. We do not publish what proportion of the childcare market this represents.

The attached table shows the recent estimate the Department for Education has made on the number of children benefiting from funded early education and the number eligible.

Figures for previous years on the number of children benefiting and the percentage of the eligible population this represents, can be found within Tables 1 to 8LA of the following statistical release: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/education-provision-children-under-5-years-of-age-january-2019.

The Department for Education does not hold data on the number of families who are eligible for Tax Free Childcare as HM Revenue & Customs are responsible for the administration of the Tax Free Childcare Scheme.

We recognise that maintained nursery schools are an important part of the early years sector and provide valuable services to disadvantaged children. However, the Department for Education does not hold data on the number of families who are eligible for a maintained school nursery place.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
17th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what the 2020-2021 budget headings are for the £66m increase in early years funding announced at the Spending Round 2019.

The additional £66 million to support early education entitlements in 2020-21 which was announced by my right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer in August 2019, provided an 8 pence an hour increase in rates for the 2-year-old entitlement and also for the vast majority of areas for 3- and 4-year-old entitlement for 2020-21 - which we subsequently announced in October 2019. It has also maintained funding rates for 2020-21 for the small number of authorities which have been protected from large drops to their funding as a result of the “loss cap”.

Details of this increased funding, broken down by individual funding stream and across local authorities, was published in December 2019 and can be found at the link below:

https://skillsfunding.service.gov.uk/single-funding-statement/latest/dedicated-schools-grant/download-funding/2020-to-2021.

This publication does not have ‘budget headings’ other than columns naming the entitlements by age group, along with columns for the Disability Access Fund (DAF) and the Early Years Pupil Premium (EYPP).

The funding allocations for local authorities are based on actual take up of the entitlement hours. Therefore, allocations for 2020-21 will be updated, first in summer 2020 using updated data from the January 2020 schools and early years censuses, and then in summer 2021 using January 2021 census data for the final allocation.

In total, the government plans to spend more than £3.6 billion to support early education entitlements in 2020-21.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
17th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what the budget headings are for the supplementary funding for maintained nursery schools in 2020-2021 announced by his Department in October 2019.

The additional £66 million to support early education entitlements in 2020-21 which was announced by my right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer in August 2019, provided an 8 pence an hour increase in rates for the 2-year-old entitlement and also for the vast majority of areas for 3- and 4-year-old entitlement for 2020-21 - which we subsequently announced in October 2019. It has also maintained funding rates for 2020-21 for the small number of authorities which have been protected from large drops to their funding as a result of the “loss cap”.

Details of this increased funding, broken down by individual funding stream and across local authorities, was published in December 2019 and can be found at the link below:

https://skillsfunding.service.gov.uk/single-funding-statement/latest/dedicated-schools-grant/download-funding/2020-to-2021.

This publication does not have ‘budget headings’ other than columns naming the entitlements by age group, along with columns for the Disability Access Fund (DAF) and the Early Years Pupil Premium (EYPP).

The funding allocations for local authorities are based on actual take up of the entitlement hours. Therefore, allocations for 2020-21 will be updated, first in summer 2020 using updated data from the January 2020 schools and early years censuses, and then in summer 2021 using January 2021 census data for the final allocation.

In total, the government plans to spend more than £3.6 billion to support early education entitlements in 2020-21.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
17th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how much funding his Department has provided for (a) planned changes to the early years foundation stage and (b) the introduction of a baseline test at reception year.

The proposed reforms to the Early Years Foundation Stage are part of a wider programme of work to improve children’s outcomes, particularly supporting children from all backgrounds to achieve the early language and literacy skills they need to thrive. The government will publish its response to the consultation on the reforms when possible. Alongside this, the government is investing in a range of initiatives to support quality early years provision, including £20 million to provide professional development for early years practitioners working in disadvantaged areas.

From September 2020, the administration of the Reception Baseline Assessment will form part of a school’s statutory requirements. As with all national assessments, there is no specific funding for the assessment itself; the funding is included in the overarching funding for schools.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
12th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what financial support the Government plans to make available to nursery schools in England to manage the effects of covid-19.

Childcare providers are making a vital contribution in our fight against Covid-19. The Department for Education has confirmed that it will not claw back funding from local authorities for any periods of closures where settings are closed on medical advice or if children are not able to attend due to Covid-19. The government expects local authorities to follow the department’s position, and continue early years entitlements funding for childminders, pre-schools and nurseries. This should also apply to those infant and primary schools that deliver the early years entitlements. This will minimise short-term disruptions to early years providers’ finances and allow the system to recover more quickly.

My right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, has also announced a package of support for businesses that will include many early years and childcare providers. This includes business rates relief, a range of loans and grants and the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme means that for employees who are not working but kept on payroll, the government will contribute 80% of each worker’s wages of up to £2,500, backdated to 1 March 2020. Providers can access this scheme while continuing to be paid the early entitlements funding via local authorities.

The department continues to work alongside Public Health England and with early years sector representatives to ensure that measures taken are in the best interests of the health of our nation whilst minimising the impact on individual childcare settings.

The latest guidance for schools and other educational settings can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-schools-and-other-educational-settings.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
12th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how much funding his Department plans to allocate to the provision of flexible childcare services (a) in term time and (b) during school holidays in each of the next five years.

We want to give parents the freedom, support and choice to look after their children in the way that works best for them. As set out in the government’s manifesto, we will invest up to £1 billion over three years to create more high-quality wraparound and holiday childcare places from 2021.

Further details on this significant new investment will be announced in due course.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
24th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether his Department has plans to create an apprenticeship standard for Early Years professionals.

Apprenticeship standards are developed by trailblazer groups of employers supported by the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education.

A level 3 early years apprenticeship standard was published for delivery in April 2019.

Trailblazer groups are currently developing new apprenticeship standards at levels 2, 5 and 6.

Further apprenticeships information is available at: https://www.instituteforapprenticeships.org/.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Department for Education) (Higher and Further Education)
22nd Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what reports he has received of sexual harassment at (a) music schools and (b) conservatoires; and what steps his Department is taking to prevent harassment at those institutions.

Like all independent schools, music schools are required to meet the Independent School Standards. The Standards require that schools have regard to the ‘Keeping Children Safe in Education’ statutory guidance. This requires schools to address sexual harassment appropriately, including duties related to allegations of abuse made against teachers and other staff and reports of sexual violence and sexual harassment between children.

Independent schools (including music schools) are inspected by either Ofsted or the Independent Schools Inspectorate to test compliance with the Independent School Standards. Inspectors always assess compliance with the statutory guidance as part of their inspections. Breaches of the Independent School Standards are dealt with through the department’s policy on regulatory and enforcement action against independent schools.

Complaints about specific schools received by the department are normally shared with the relevant inspectorate. These can be investigated fully at the next inspection and, if the concerns are significant, the department can commission an emergency inspection or bring forward the next standard inspection.

In relation to conservatoires, all Conservatoires UK members are signed up to its principles of best practice, which apply to teaching settings involving students who are 18 years of age or over.

Universities UK has a programme of activity to support their members and the wider sector to prevent and respond effectively to all forms of harassment and hate crime. Their programme in 2019-2020 includes a focus on staff-to-student sexual harassment. The Office for Students (OfS), which regulates higher education providers, published a consultation on 9 January. The consultation, which will conclude on 27 March, sets out proposals for a proposed set of expectations for the policies, processes and systems that the OfS expects providers to have in place to effectively address sexual misconduct and harassment.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Department for Education) (Higher and Further Education)
21st Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to protect the welfare of decapod crustaceans in the forthcoming Animal (Welfare) Sentience Bill.

The Animal (Welfare) Sentience Bill applies to vertebrates. It gives the Secretary of State a power to extend the recognition of sentience to particular invertebrates in future

Defra has commissioned an independent review of the available scientific evidence on the sentience of decapod crustaceans such as crabs and lobsters, as well as on the sentience of some other invertebrates. Its findings will be published before the Bill reaches Report stage in the House of Lords. We will consider its findings carefully as part of our ongoing work to protect the welfare needs of animals.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of (a) regulating the number of animals that can be slaughtered without being stunned and (b) banning the export of meat from animals that have not been stunned before slaughter.

We would prefer all animals to be stunned before slaughter, but we respect the rights of Jews and Muslims to eat meat prepared in accordance with their religious beliefs.

We have recently concluded a review of the welfare of animals at time of killing legislation and this identifies potential improvements that might be made. We are carefully considering the issues raised in the review.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
1st Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how many and what proportion of the staff employed by his Department are apprentices.

As of 31 March 2020, the Civil Service has achieved a total of 2.1% of its total workforce as apprentices against the legislative target for the public sector of 2.3% by March 2021.

Core Defra has achieved 1% of the total staff employed within the department. A further 57 apprentices are currently being enrolled and we expect these to be fully enrolled by 31/03/21.

This target is a percentage of the total workforce so the percentage attained will change in line with workforce fluctuations over time, making it challenging to predict when a department will meet it. The data for 2018/19 can be found here. The data for 2019/20 can be found here.

Defra has an apprenticeship strategy which has the following priorities:

  1. Increase the use of apprenticeships in external recruitment
  2. Use targeted apprenticeship recruitment to improve inclusion/ diversity of workforce
  3. Promote the use of apprenticeships to support the development of existing employees at all grades
  4. Increase/maximise levy usage

Defra is launching three recruitment campaigns in National Apprenticeship Week (8–14 February) for the following apprenticeships: Project Management Level 4; Policy Officer Level 4; Business Administration Level 3.

Departments are committed to increasing the number of apprentices across the Civil Service and continue to work towards the 2.3% target.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
26th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will assess the merits of making pet theft a specific criminal offence in response to the rising number of instances of that crime during the covid-19 outbreak.

All reported crimes should be taken seriously, investigated and, where appropriate, taken through the courts and met with tough sentences. The theft of a pet is already a criminal offence under the Theft Act 1968 and the maximum penalty is seven years' imprisonment.

The Government takes the issue of pet theft very seriously and is concerned by suggestions that occurrences are on the rise. We consider that the current offence which relates to cases of pet theft is appropriate.

Sentencing is a matter for the Courts and should take into account the circumstances of each case. When deciding on an appropriate sentence, the Courts may consider aggravating and mitigating factors, in line with sentencing guidelines issued by the Sentencing Council. In February 2016 the Sentencing Council updated its guidelines in relation to sentencing for theft offences. The guidelines take account of the emotional distress, and therefore harm, that theft of a pet can have on the victim, and accordingly the guidelines recommend higher penalties for such offences.

If someone causes an animal to suffer in the course of stealing it, they are also liable to prosecution under the Animal Welfare Act 2006. The existing maximum custodial penalty for causing animal cruelty is 6 months' imprisonment. Legislation is currently before Parliament - the Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill - which when passed will increase the maximum penalty to 5 years' imprisonment. This will be the highest penalty for animal cruelty in Europe. The Government will support this Bill as it makes its way through Parliament.

As I said at the recent Westminster Hall debate on pet theft, we continue to keep the situation under review and are keen to explore ways to address pet theft that will be effective and have a meaningful impact. That includes working with interested parties, including the police and animal welfare organisations to try and get messages across to pet owners to help them keep their pets safe.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
2nd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, pursuant to the Answer of 28 February to Question 18834 on Private Infrastructure Development Group (PIDG): Fossil Fuels, how much funding was provided by the PIDG to (a) the 32 fossil fuel related infrastructure projects (b) the 35 renewable power projects.

The value of Private Investment Development Group (PIDG) commitments to energy projects disaggregated by renewables and non-renewables is published in the PIDG Annual Review, which is available publicly online.

You can find it the 2018 annual review at: https://www.pidg.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/PIDG_2018_Annual_Review_MAY2019_Final_Digital-4.pdf

2nd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, pursuant to the Answer of 7 February to Question 14010 on Private Infrastructure Development Group (PIDG): Fossil Fuels, how many Environmental and Social Impact Assessments were conducted by PIDG in each of the past 10 years; and how many projects were not approved on environmental grounds.

Private Investment Development Group (PIDG) complies with international best practice standards and PIDG companies complete an Environmental, Social and Health Impact Assessment for each project in which they invest, before approving any such investment.

Each investment must comply with PIDG’s Environment, Social, Health and Safety standards, which are based on the internationally recognised International Finance Corporation Environment and Social Performance Standards. DFID monitors compliance with these policies as part of its ongoing role as a PIDG Owner.

PIDG does not hold data on projects specifically rejected on the grounds of environmental concerns.

The Private Infrastructure Development Group (PIDG) prioritises investments in renewables wherever possible. PIDG does not have any active fossil fuel extraction projects, and PIDG’s strategy rules out any investments in coal.

Data on all PIDG investment commitments are available online via its Results Monitoring Database and its annual reports (https://www.pidg.org/). DFID also publishes data relating to its funding to PIDG via DevTracker.

2nd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what recent discussions her Department has had with representatives of the business sector on the elimination of deforestation from business supply chains as set out in the Amsterdam Declaration on Deforestation.

The UK supports a number of initiatives which facilitate engagement, dialogue and collaboration with companies to eliminate deforestation from supply chains, in line with the aims of the Amsterdam Declarations.

This includes business roundtables to help UK companies realise sustainable sourcing commitments for palm oil and soya; the Tropical Forest Alliance, a public-private initiative with over 160 members, hosted by the World Economic Forum, which is working to help companies realise commitments to eliminate deforestation from their supply chains for palm oil, soya, beef and paper & board; and support to the Cocoa and Forests Initiative, which works with the global cocoa and chocolate industries to eliminate deforestation from the cocoa supply chain.

This collaboration is helping to accelerate the implementation of new industry norms and practices for sustainability, but further work is required to ensure that these are taken up broadly across global agricultural commodity supply chains.

2nd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what recent assessment her Department has made of its progress on eliminating deforestation from business supply chains as set out in the Amsterdam Declaration on Deforestation.

Supporting trade in sustainable commodities is a key focus of DFID’s approach to tackling climate change. Partnerships for Forests (£104 million, 2015 - 2023) has been established to accelerate private sector commitments to eliminate deforestation from supply chains.

The programme is working at all levels of supply chains for cocoa, palm oil, rubber and soya, to build stronger demand for sustainable commodities, develop new industry sustainability standards, and test new and sustainable ways of growing commodities without causing deforestation.

This is helping to establish new industry norms and practices, but further work is required to ensure that these are taken up broadly across global agricultural commodity supply chains.

21st Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what steps he takes to monitor the proportion of CDC Group’s investments held offshore or in offshore entities; and what the value was of CDC’s offshore investments at 31 March 2019.

CDC invests in accordance with its policy on the payment of taxes and the use of offshore financial centres which is available on CDCs website. Under this policy, which has been agreed with DFID and is reviewed annually, CDC’s preference is to invest directly into the country in which the investee company’s business operations are located. Where CDC does use an offshore financial centre, it only uses those that are compliant with international tax transparency standards, as monitored by the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Tax information.

As of 31st March 2019, 25% of CDC’s investments are held in CDC investment companies not domiciled in the UK.

21st Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, pursuant to the Answer of 12 February to Question 14008 on Private Infrastructure Development Group: Fossil Fuels, how many fossil fuel related infrastructure projects the Department has allocated funding to through the Private Infrastructure Development Group; when funding was allocated to each of those projects; and how much funding was allocated.

DFID is one of a number of institutions who provide funding to the Private Infrastructure Development Group (PIDG). DFID has disbursed $1,036 million to PIDG between 2002 and 2018. During that time, PIDG has made investment commitments totalling $3,610 million.

During this 16-year period, PIDG has provided funding to 32 fossil fuel related infrastructure projects. These are principally investments in power projects in the poorest countries to increase access to power, some of which use fossil fuels to generate electricity. Nine of these funding commitments were in the form of early-stage advisory services.

Over the same period, PIDG provided funding to 35 renewable power projects.

Data on all PIDG investment commitments are available online via its Results Monitoring Database and its annual reports. DFID also publishes data relating to its funding to PIDG via DevTracker.

11th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what assessment his Department monitors the cash held by its subsidiaries in offshore bank accounts; and how frequently his subsidiaries report those balances to his Department.

DFID does not have any subsidiaries.

To enable greater transparency in and to identify our flow of funds, programme delivery chains are mapped out to identify and capture the names of all partners involved in delivering a specific good, service or change, down to the end beneficiary is completed. In addition to this delivery partners are required to publish data to the IATI standard on all its DFID funding.

7th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, whether his Department’s (a) anti-fraud and (b) anti-money laundering procedures review (i) payments by his Department to offshore accounts and (ii) the use of offshore accounts by his Department's (A) suppliers and (B) senior staff.

There are robust anti-fraud and anti-money laundering measures in place for all DFID expenditure. The following controls are in place:

(A) For suppliers, relevant corporate assurance assessments and due diligence checks are completed by programme teams before new suppliers are added to the system, and the Treasury and Banking team are required to select the destination country for bank templates. In addition, the team check that the final destination account does not differ from that in the payment request.

(B) All our staff are governed by DFID’s Standards of Behaviour and Conduct including the Civil Service Code for staff and the seven Principles of Public life for office holders. As part of this, both staff and office holders are required to declare any conflicts of interest including private investments.

7th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, whether (a) members of his Departmental Board and (b) senior executives in his Department are required to disclose their offshore bank accounts and holdings.

All DFID staff are governed by the Civil Service Code and core values, the 7 Principles of Public life, and DFID’s staff code of practice. These require that both staff and office holders declare any conflicts of interest, including those involving private or personal business and financial concerns.

7th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, when his Department last made an assessment of the environmental effect of fossil fuel projects financed by his Department through the Private Infrastructure Development Group.

The Private Infrastructure Development Group (PIDG) prioritises investments in renewables wherever possible. PIDG does not have any active fossil fuel extraction projects, and PIDG’s strategy rules out any investments in coal.

PIDG conducts an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment on all projects before approving any investment. Each investment must comply with PIDG’s Environment, Social, Health and Safety standards, which are based on the internationally recognised International Finance Corporation Environment and Social Performance Standards. This includes minimum requirements in areas such as use of natural resources, biodiversity, labour standards and land resettlement.

7th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what environmental impact assessments his Department has made in relation to fossil fuel extraction projects financed by the Private Infrastructure Development Group.

The Private Infrastructure Development Group (PIDG) does not have any active fossil fuel extraction projects, and PIDG’s strategy rules out any investing in coal. In 2004, PIDG did provide one-off funding of $500,000 (£273,000) for technical assistance to the Government of Mozambique on the feasibility of establishing a coal mine in the town of Moatize in Mozambique. However, no follow-on funding was provided to support this project. PIDG is also not able to invest in the exploration, extraction or refining of oil, natural gas or liquid petroleum gas.

PIDG conducts an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment on all projects before approving any investment. Each investment must comply with PIDG’s Environment, Social, Health and Safety standards, which are based on the internationally recognised International Finance Corporation Environment and Social Performance Standards. DFID monitors compliance with these policies as part of its ongoing role as a PIDG Owner.

7th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what recent assessment his Department has made of the effect of trends in the level of fossil fuel usage in developing countries on levels of poverty in those countries.

Energy is essential for development and poverty reduction, and there are many assessments that show that poor countries will need to increase investments in energy in the coming years to increase economic growth and improve the lives of poor people. Two recent examples of such assessments include the 2019 Sustainable Development Goal 7 Energy Progress Report, and Sustainable Energy for All’s ‘Energising Finance: Understanding the Landscape 2018’.

The science is clear that the world must reduce its emissions if we are to avoid dangerous climate change, which risks undermining development gains and pushing more people into poverty. This will need to be a collective global effort, from all countries, and the UK is leading by example, setting a target to reach net zero by 2050.

The UK is providing support to developing countries to think about their choices and how to best to secure the energy they need.

7th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, how much money his Department paid into offshore bank accounts in financial year 2018-19.

The information requested is not easily accessible and the cost to extract would be disproportionate.

7th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, how many fossil fuel extraction projects the Department has allocated funding to through the private infrastructure development group; when funding was allocated to each of those projects; and how much funding was allocated.

DFID invests in the Private Infrastructure Development Group (PIDG) to improve access to critical infrastructure services for people in the poorest regions of Africa and Asia – in sectors such as power, communications, transport and water.

PIDG has no active investments in any fossil fuel extraction projects. PIDG does not invest in the exploration, extraction or refining of oil, natural gas or liquid petroleum gas.

In 2004, PIDG did provide one-off funding of $500,000 (£273,000) for technical assistance to the Government of Mozambique on the feasibility of establishing a coal mine in the town of Moatize in Mozambique. PIDG’s strategy now rules out any investing in coal.

Andrew Stephenson
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
30th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, on what occasions his Department's audit committee has formally reviewed the adequacy of its audit arrangements for grantees and recipients of official development assistance since 2010.

DFID implements robust controls to ensure that partners’ UK aid programmes deliver value for money, reflect our values and comply with relevant laws. DFID’s Audit and Risk Assurance Committee meets at least five times each year and reviews the strength of these controls on an ongoing basis. The Committee draws on audits conducted by DFID’s Internal Audit Department and the National Audit Office.

Andrew Stephenson
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
23rd Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, when his Department last undertook an assessment of the adequacy of the audit arrangements for recipients of (a) Official Development Assistance and (b) grants issued by his Department.

DFID commissions all of its programming activities to be compliant with the best practice programme delivery framework – the Smart Rules. All programmes must be compliant with the Smart Rules which are designed to accord with the public financial management legislation for grants and, where applicable, with EU procurement regulations for private sector contracts.

Before DFID authorises any payments to awarded grants and/or contracts, due diligence assessments or competitive tendering procedures are undertaken to assess the relative strengths and weaknesses of the potential recipient organisation. This will include assessing governance procedures and the recipient’s own capabilities of oversight and audit of sub-partners. We also test a range of additional qualitative standards such as their capabilities in financial management, programme management, environmental/social responsibility, safeguarding and ethical trading.

Andrew Stephenson
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
18th Aug 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, whether she plans to (a) change staffing levels and (b) make redundancies in each of her Department’s regional teams of international trade advisers in the next 12 months.

The International Trade Adviser service is one part of the department’s export support ecosystem that up-skills businesses to take advantage of export opportunities.

The Department for International Trade (DIT) contracts with Delivery Partners to provide an International Trade Adviser service across England. International Trade Advisers are employees of Delivery Partners. Staffing levels are determined by Delivery Partners, in response to commercially agreed outcomes.

DIT provides the maximum possible support to UK business to take full advantage of trade opportunities, including those arising from delivering Free Trade Agreements, and facilitating UK exports.

3rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what steps she is taking to secure a free trade agreement with Ghana.

The United Kingdom and Ghana have finalised negotiations on a trade agreement, which will provide duty-free, quota-free access for Ghana to the United Kingdom.

The United Kingdom and Ghana have issued a joint statement at: gov.uk/government/news/ghana-uk-joint-statement-ghana-uk-trade-partnership-agreement.

Ranil Jayawardena
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade)
1st Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, how many and what proportion of the staff employed by her Department are apprentices.

As of 31 March 2020, the Civil Service has achieved a total of 2.1% of its total workforce as apprentices against the legislative target for the public sector of 2.3% by March 2021.

As of 31st December 2020, there were 115 apprentices employed by the Department for International Trade (DIT) and UK Export Finance (UKEF). It equates to 3.2% of the total domestic staff employed by DIT and UKEF.

This target is a percentage of the total workforce so the percentage attained will change in line with workforce fluctuations over time, making it challenging to predict when a department will meet it. The data for 2018/19 can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/civil-service-apprenticeship-data-2018-to-2019. The data for 2019/20 can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/civil-service-apprenticeship-data-2019-to-2020.

Departments are committed to increasing the number of apprentices across the Civil Service and continue to work towards the 2.3% target.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
7th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what steps her Department is taking to prevent the import of goods sourced from illegal deforestation in the Amazon in future trade deals.

Britain is committed to upholding her high environmental standards, including through environmental provisions within Free Trade Agreements.

HM Government continues to raise its concerns regarding deforestation regularly with international partners, and the importance of sustainable and resilient economies, most recently at the United Kingdom-Brazil Joint Economic and Trade Committee on 11th November.

We have committed over £250m through International Climate Finance programmes aimed at tackling deforestation in Brazil – including through our Partnerships for Forests programme, which supports environmentally-friendly farming and replanting projects in the Amazon – and we are introducing new legislation that requires large British companies to make sure forest risk commodities in their supply chains are sourced legally in producer countries.

Ranil Jayawardena
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade)
22nd Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what representations her Department made to the Government of Iran following threats made in the Iranian media in the last three months against her staff; what assessment she made of the causes of those threats and the likelihood of their being acted on; and what steps she has taken to protect her staff in Tehran.

On 5th September 2020, a series of baseless allegations were made against a Crown servant by the Iranian news outlet, Tasnim.

DIT and the British Embassy in Iran have publicly challenged this disinformation, issued statements clarifying the position of the Crown servant concerned and made representations to the Iranian government about factually incorrect reporting concerning the activities of the British Council.

However, it is important to be clear that no threats have been made against Crown servants in Tehran. The security of our embassy in Tehran is overseen by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, who keep the security of diplomatic missions under constant review.

Ranil Jayawardena
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade)
30th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, how many staff UK Export Finance has (a) in its compliance team and b) dedicated to work on anti-corruption due diligence.

There are currently five full time equivalent (FTE) staff in UK Export Finance’s Compliance Division, alongside a further team of four FTE staff who undertake financial crime (including bribery and corruption) due diligence screening on transactions.

23rd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, how many instances of suspected corruption or bribery UKEF has reported to law enforcement officials in the last 12 months.

UK Export Finance (UKEF) is not an investigatory body.

During the last twelve months UKEF has referred between 0 and 10 instances of suspected bribery to law enforcement officials.

The release of the exact numbers of businesses referred by UKEF to law enforcement authorities on suspicion of bribery or corruption may be likely to lead to the identification of an organisation, without any actual wrongdoing necessarily having been substantiated.

23rd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, how many internal reports of suspicions of corruption have been made to UKEF's compliance Department in the last 12 months.

UK Export Finance’s (UKEF’s) Compliance Division has considered internal reports and referrals on around 40 transactions in the last 12 months. These do not always relate to active suspicions, however. UKEF has policies in place which require certain high-risk indicators and red flags to be referred to its Compliance Division for consideration and analysis.

3rd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, pursuant to the Answer of 2 March to Question 18399 on UK Export Finance: Environment Protection, how many applications for UK Export Finance support have been scrutinised by the Environmental, Social and Human Rights team in each of the past five years; and how many of those applications were rejected on environmental grounds.

All applications which fall within the scope of UK Export Finance’s (UKEF’s) environmental, social and human rights (ESHR) policy are reviewed for ESHR risks and impacts.

UKEF might be unable to provide support for a number of different reasons, including concern over environmental or related project matters.

For example, in 2016, following a decision by ministers, UKEF turned down an application to support a coal-fired power plant in Vietnam.

As a result of the presence of UKEF support, a project may meet higher ESHR standards than otherwise.

21st Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, whether she plans to reduce the number of oil and gas projects supported through UK Export Finance; and if she will make a statement.

UK Export Finance (UKEF) helps UK companies of all sizes and across all sectors to win, fulfil and receive payment for export contracts.

The UK’s oil and gas sector is a vital part of the UK’s economy, supporting around 300,000 jobs. UKEF’s support has helped to sustain UK jobs in a sector that has seen low investment due to fluctuating and reduced oil prices, but remains vital to the UK’s energy security.

Many businesses in the oil and gas industry are actively engaging with the transition to a low carbon economy, applying world-leading skills and expertise to offshore wind development. UKEF is well placed to support companies through this transition to a low carbon economy.

21st Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, how many times she has met representatives of Fairtrade since July 2019.

My Rt Hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Trade has not met with Fairtrade representatives in the period from July 2019 to the present.

21st Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, pursuant to the Answer of 13 February to Question 14007 on UK Export Finance: Fossil Fuels, what the (a) annual budget of and (b) number of full-time equivalent staff in the UK Export Finance Environmental, Social and Human Rights team was in each of the last five years.

The numbers of full-time equivalent members of staff in the environmental, social and human rights team at the end of each of the last four years, and on 28 February 2020, were as follows:

Full-time equivalent staff in post

28 February 2020

6

31 March 2019

7

31 March 2018

4

31 March 2017

4

31 March 2016

4

The annual budget for the team for the last five years was as follows:

a) Year

b) Team budget (excluding salary costs in column (c)

c) Mean salary costings, grossed for tax, NI and pension contributions[1]

2019/20

£ 100,000

£ 445,691.40

2018/19

£ 50,000

£ 477,055.60

2017/18

£ 150,000

£ 294,106.40

2016/17

£ 150,000

£ 274,666.00

2015/16

£ 150,000

£ 284,144.00

[1] The figures quoted are the median grade salaries for the numbers of each member of UKEF staff in post on the ESHR Team at the end of each financial year, ‘grossed up’ to account for tax, national insurance contributions and pension contributions.

21st Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, pursuant to the Answer of 13 February 2020 to Question 14007 on UK Export Finance: Fossil Fuels, how many meetings officials in the UK Export Finance Environmental, Social and Human Rights team have held with representatives from the (a) Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and (b) Committee on Climate Change in each of the last five years.

Representatives from across UK Export Finance (UKEF), regularly meet officials from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to discuss strategic, operational and specific project-related matters. This includes issues relating to climate concerns, fossil fuels and the transition away from fossil fuels.

As the Committee for Climate Change has a domestic focus, UKEF has not engaged with it.

12th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, how much debt Iran owes UK Export Finance.

Iran’s debt to UK Export Finance is £28.4 million.

12th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what repayments have been made by Iran to UK Export Finance for debt incurred on purchases of UK-manufactured military equipment in the 1970s; and on what dates those repayments were made.

No repayments by way of recovery have been made by Iran directly to UK Export Finance for debt incurred on purchases of UK-manufactured military equipment in the 1970s. However, payments have been made to UK Export Finance via exporters, for some contracts in this time period.

7th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, whether UK Export Finance undertake environmental impact assessments of oil and gas projects that it funds.

UK Export Finance (UKEF) is committed to high standards of environmental, social and human rights (ESHR) risk management. It rigorously follows the requirements of the OECD Common Approaches and Equator Principles, which set the framework for export credit agencies and international financial institutions in managing such risks. Fundamental to this framework is a requirement for the sponsor of relevant projects which are to receive eligible UK exports to develop an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA), or equivalent suite of documents, to international standards.

UKEF has a specialist ESHR team that reviews relevant projects before UKEF makes any decision. This includes all oil and gas projects falling within the scope of either, or both, of the OECD Common Approaches or the Equator Principles. These supported projects are then monitored by the ESHR team throughout the lifetime of UKEF’s support to ensure continuing compliance with these requirements.

Conor Burns
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
7th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, whether the environmental impact is a criterion in UK Export Finance's decision-making in relation to grant support to companies.

UK Export Finance (UKEF) is committed to high standards of environmental, social and human rights (ESHR) risk management. It rigorously follows the requirements of the OECD Common Approaches and Equator Principles, which set the framework for export credit agencies and international financial institutions in managing such risks. Fundamental to this framework is a requirement for the sponsor of relevant projects which are to receive eligible UK exports to develop an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA), or equivalent suite of documents, to international standards.

UKEF has a specialist ESHR team that reviews relevant projects before UKEF makes any decision. This includes all oil and gas projects falling within the scope of either, or both, of the OECD Common Approaches or the Equator Principles. These supported projects are then monitored by the ESHR team throughout the lifetime of UKEF’s support to ensure continuing compliance with these requirements.

Conor Burns
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
6th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what value of sovereign debt has been written off by UK Export Finance or its predecessors in relation to (a) Iran, (b) Iraq and (c) Jordan since 1970.