Kate Green (Stretford and Urmston, Labour)
To ask the Secretary of State for Education
(1) what steps he has taken to identify families with children identified as in need or at risk or who have special educational needs who may have to move home following a reduction in their family's entitlement to housing costs through (a) local housing allowance and (b) universal credit;
(2) what guidance has been given to local education authorities to safeguard children identified as in need or at risk as a result of migration of families when support with housing costs through (a) local housing allowance and (b) universal credit is reduced.
Edward Timpson (Crewe and Nantwich, Conservative)
Statutory arrangements are in place to identify children who are in need or at risk or who have special educational needs, and their families. Should any families with such children have to move as the result of changes to housing allowances and the introduction of universal credit, schools and local authorities will have the duties to transfer information.
Schools are under a duty when a pupil changes school to transfer the pupil's educational records and the Common Transfer File, which includes information on a child's special educational needs. Where a child has a statement of special educational needs moves between authorities, local authorities are under a duty to transfer the statement to the new authority and may also transfer any opinion they have received under the Disabled Persons (Services, Consultation and Representation) Act 1986 that the child is disabled. Upon transfer of the statement, the new authority becomes responsible for maintaining the statement and for providing the special educational provision specified in it.
No guidance has been specifically given to local authorities about children identified as in need or at risk as a result of families’ migration.
Statutory guidance, ‘Working Together to Safeguard Children and the Framework for the Assessment of Children in Need and their Families’ provides clear guidance for professionals to follow when they suspect a child may be suffering or likely to suffer harm, or is in need. Local authorities have a statutory duty under the Children Act 1989 to promote the welfare of children and carry out an assessment if they suspect a child may be suffering harm.
This guidance is currently the subject of a national consultation. While professionals' basic responsibilities will not change, revised guidance aims to clarify these roles and responsibilities and to reduce bureaucracy, giving them more scope to focus firmly on the needs of the child.