Citizens’ Rights Watchdog Completes Initial Review Into English Local Authorities For Looked After Children

Residency ,

The Independent Monitoring Authority for the Citizens’ Rights Agreements (IMA) has completed the initial review into the way English local authorities ensure looked after children and care leavers from EU and EEA EFTA countries have their rights protected in the UK now that it has left the European Union.

Local authorities have duties to support, and in certain cases to make, applications to the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) for children under their care, as well as to identify those who need to make applications to the EUSS. The IMA is responsible for monitoring the rights of EU and EEA EFTA citizens and their family members in the UK and Gibraltar.

Part of that monitoring has involved assurance reviews for looked after children and care leavers who need to apply to the EUSS, and the procedures that local authorities have in place to monitor those applications.

The IMA wrote to all 151 local authorities in England with mandatory obligations supporting looked after children and care leavers seeking information about three key areas. These are:

  • how authorities identified children and care leavers who need to apply to the EUSS
  • the procedures they have in place for record keeping, and;
  • whether retrospective checks are being carried out which could identify those who may have left care and may not have been identified as eligible to apply to the EUSS.

Each authority’s response to the IMA’s queries on these issues has been categorised as either green, amber or red based on the IMA’s opinion of the quality of responses received.

The IMA has now published the outcome for all nine regional reports for England.

Following the initial findings, the IMA has started conducting individual assurance reviews with all English local authorities to gather additional information over a rolling programme of work.

Local authorities that have had individual assurance reviews undertaken so far have sufficiently demonstrated they are discharging their duties in respect of these vulnerable cohorts, to ensure their rights are protected.

Pam Everett, IMA Director of Operational Delivery said: “Following on from the individual assurance reviews in Wales, the IMA has continued to assess how local authorities in England are supporting children in their care and those who have left care in making applications to the EUSS.

“We now want to further assure ourselves that each authority in England has the correct processes and procedures in place to ensure looked after children and care leavers who are EU and EEA EFTA citizens, and their eligible family members, can access all the rights to which they are entitled.

“We welcome the engagement of local authorities so far and look forward to continue to work with them to improve processes and share best practice.”

You can read all nine regional reports for England in full on the IMA’s website.

The review is being undertaken in stages across all local government in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Separate reviews will be provided for each nation in the UK while England will be separated into nine different regions with reviews for each region. The review of all local authorities in Wales concluded last year.

Further information about the review can be found on the IMA’s website.