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Children and Families Bill

House of Lords written question – answered on 24th July 2013.

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Photo of Lord Northbourne Lord Northbourne Crossbench

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have made any estimates of any additional costs to public funds or to local authorities of implementing the provisions (as drafted) set out in (1) Part 1, (2) Part 2, (3) Part 3, and (4) Part 4, of the Children and Families Bill; and what, if any, are the additional costs estimated in each case.

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how much Government funding is provided annually in respect of (1) adoption, (2) special educational needs, and (3) childminder agencies.

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of local authority funding provided annually in respect of (1) adoption, (2) family justice, (3) special educational needs, and (4) childminder agencies.

Photo of Lord Nash Lord Nash The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

Parts 1 to 4 of the Children and Families Bill are intended to make adoption services, Special Education Needs (SEN) provision and the Family Justice System work more efficiently and effectively to support children, and to improve the quality and affordability of childcare. They will underpin the wider, on-going, reform programmes in these areas which are designed to be delivered within available resources.

The Department conducted a range of assessments on the impact and estimated costs and savings of the reforms in the Children and Families Bill, published as evidence packs in March 2013. These have been placed in the House Library and can be viewed from the following links:

Adoption:

http://media.education.gov.uk/assets/files/pdf/a/adoption%20-%20evidence%20of%20impact.pdf

Family Justice:

http://media.education.gov.uk/assets/files/pdf/f/family%20justice%20-%20evidence%20of%20impact1.pdf

Special Educational Needs:

http://media.education.gov.uk/assets/files/pdf/s/sen%20evidence%20pack.pdf

Childcare:

http://media.education.gov.uk/assets/files/pdf/c/childcare%20-%20evidence%20of%20impact.pdf

While there are transitional costs associated with the adoption and SEN reforms, additional to mainstream school and local authority funding, these costs are expected to taper as savings are realised through embedding the reforms. Funding for these additional costs has been provided in the current financial year. The amount for each area, set out below, reflects the governments assessment of the funding needed to support the transition:

For adoption (part 1) we have provided £150m to local authorities and over £4m to voluntary and community sector organisations to improve adoption services and address the shortage of adopters

For family justice (part 2) we do not expect the legislative changes to lead to any additional public expenditure. There may be some small familiarisation and administrative costs for local authorities, which will be met from within existing budgets.

For SEN (part three) we are providing around £43m additional funding this year to support implementation. This includes funding to local authorities, voluntary and community sector organisations and for workforce development through the National College for Teaching and Leadership.

In relation to part 4 of the Bill (childcare), we estimate that there will be a cost to Ofsted to change their registration system to account for childminder agencies and we are currently working with Ofsted to quantify this. We expect these agencies to be self-funding and independent of Government.

The other childcare provisions of the Bill carry no additional cost implications for public funds or local authorities. Clause 78, in Part 4, provides paving legislation to enable design of the proposed tax-free childcare scheme; any changes required in primary legislation on this matter will be subject to appropriate scrutiny in due course.

For all parts of the Bill, new burdens arrangements will be agreed in relation to all the specific legislative provisions in preparation for the measures becoming law.

Local authorities receive mainstream funding for children’s services, which they are free to allocate in accordance with local needs and priorities, as well as the dedicated schools grant which supports a wide range of education provision, including those for special educational needs.

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