Sarah Spencer and Jonathan Price, COMPAS, Oxford, give a talk for the COMPAS series.
This briefing presents the findings of an 18 month study that explored the implications of a tension between two areas of policy concerning the welfare of children: a requirement in immigration law that excludes some families from mainstream welfare benefits and a provision in the Children Act (s17) that requires local authorities to safeguard and promote the welfare of any child ‘in need’. The study involved a large survey of local authorities and of the voluntary sector; 8 local authority cases studies and 92 interviews. While central government determines who may access ‘public funds’, and has to resolve the immigration status of families with applications pending, local government provides a safety net for destitute children whose parents have no other means of support. The study provides data on families, the practices of local authorities that assess and provide support, the nature of the support provided, the role of the voluntary sector and challenges in the working relationship between the two tiers of government with responsibility for these families.