IMA is assured that local authorities in Wales are protecting the rights of EU looked after children and care leavers

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The Independent Monitoring Authority for the Citizens’ Rights Agreements is assured that all 22 local authorities in Wales have confirmed they have appropriate measures in place to ensure the rights of eligible EU and EEA EFTA looked after children and care leavers are protected.  

Following the UK’s departure from the EU, all eligible citizens, including children, are required to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) to guarantee their rights to live, work, study, and access benefits in the UK.  

In October 2022, the IMA launched a review of local authorities across the UK to establish how they identify looked after children and care leavers who need to apply to the EUSS, and the procedures put in place to monitor those applications.  

The initial review sought information in three key areas; identification, record keeping and retrospective checks, with each local authority categorised as red, amber or green in a grading system. 

An interim report for all local authorities in Wales found only one local authority’s response achieved a green grading for each of the three key areas, with six other local authorities meeting the green status in two of the three key areas. 

Following the report, the IMA worked collaboratively with each local authority during a compliance period before a final review was made.  

As a result of further engagement, the IMA identified that the majority of local authorities in Wales had outlined robust processes in place to identify and support eligible cohorts in line with Home Office guidance.  

In addition, the IMA made recommendations for improvements and offered further support to aid understanding of the EUSS. This has helped improve the identification and support for eligible cohorts. 

Several authorities have reported taking proactive measures to improve their processes and procedures and management information and reporting systems, and others have developed additional guidance for staff delivered through awareness and training. Notably, this has led to better identification by local authorities of eligible children and care leavers for the scheme, as well as being able to signpost eligible family members. 

As a result of the measures taken by local authorities in Wales, the IMA is assured that all 22 local authorities are protecting the rights of EU looked after children and care leavers. 

Pam Everett, IMA Director of Operational Delivery said:  “The IMA has welcomed the positive collaboration with local authorities in Wales, along with the support of Albert Heaney, Chief Social Care Officer for Wales, The Welsh Government in encouraging local authority engagement.

“Most importantly however, this work has resulted in additional numbers of children being identified as eligible for the EU Settlement Scheme, and upon successful application will guarantee their rights to continue to live, study and work in the UK.”

The review of all local authorities in Wales has now concluded with ongoing reviews across England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.