The Independent Monitoring Authority for the Citizens’ Rights Agreements has welcomed a move by the Department for Education (DfE) to amend legislation which could have excluded some EU and EEA EFTA families living and working in England from receiving childcare.
The IMA has been working with the DfE in relation to its Childcare Offer Regulations*, which allow eligible families up to 30 hours of free childcare, after identifying the legislation excluded citizens who had applied to the EU Settlement Scheme before 30th June but who had not received a final decision on their status from being eligible to apply.
Part of the IMA’s role is to monitor legislation to make sure it upholds the rights of EU and EEA EFTA citizens to live in the UK and Gibraltar, to study, to work and to raise their families as they did before Brexit.
While looking at the Childcare Offer Regulations the IMA identified that citizens who didn’t yet have a decision on their EUSS applications were specifically unable to apply for childcare. The IMA wrote to the DfE to say it believed they were breaking the terms of the Withdrawal Agreements and were considering taking legal action.
The DfE quickly responded to the IMA to say that they were already aware of the issue and that a solution had already been put in place to ensure no citizens who should be eligible to apply for the childcare offer would be disadvantaged. The DfE also agreed to amend the regulations at the earliest opportunity.
The amending legislation was made on October 20th and was laid before the UK Parliament on October 22nd.
The amending legislation does not make reference to citizens who applied to the EU Settlement Scheme after 30th June. However, the DfE have confirmed that late applicants will be able to apply for the childcare offer following the announcement from the Home Office on 6th August that those who apply late to the Scheme will have their rights protected while their application is determined.
Dr Kathryn Chamberlain, Chief Executive of the IMA said:
“We would like to thank the Department for Education for the way they dealt with us on this matter. As soon as we raised the issue with them, they confirmed they would be amending the legislation to ensure no citizens will be excluded from eligibility for the 30 hours free childcare entitlement whilst they are awaiting a decision on status under the EUSS.
“This case demonstrates how working together with public bodies ensures that resolutions can be reached quickly to ensure citizens are not being disadvantaged which is to everyone’s benefit.”
The IMA will continue to monitor the progress of this and all key legislation to ensure the rights of citizens are upheld.
The IMA encourages any citizen experiencing difficulties in exercising their rights to make them aware of this through their online portal.
*The Childcare (Early Years Provision Free of Charge) (Extended Entitlement) Regulations 2016 2016/1257