All local authorities and schools have a responsibility to spend every penny of taxpayers investment on childrens learning. I want head teachers and governors to manage their schools own finances, plan ahead with confidence and invest wisely. That is why we are funding them with the first ever three-year school funding settlement from 2008-2011.
My Department is absolutely right to take action when the net revenue surplus in school balances has more than doubled since 1999-2000 to £1.7 billion on 31 March 2007, with some schools surplus balances running into seven figures and still growing. This revenue funding should be spent on todays children. It is intended for teachers pay and day to day running costs, not capital spending which is funded separately.
I have already given local authorities clear powers to redistribute excessive and uncommitted surplus revenue. Our guidance judges as excessive a secondary school carrying over more than 5 per cent. of its annual school income at the end of the financial year; and 8 per cent. of a primary or special schools income.
My Department has been consulting on an additional proposal for local authorities to be required to redistribute 5 per cent. of all surplus revenue balances held by schools in their area. It was never proposed that this money should come back to Whitehall or damage schools financial independence. It would be recycled to local schools, for the benefit of local children and decided by local head teachers, through the local School Forums.
However, I recognise schools concerns raised during the consultation. These included the retrospective use of end of year 2006-07 balances to redistribute a small proportion of those surpluses to other schools in 2008-09. I have listened carefully to that concern and I have ruled out any such retrospective proposal.
Schools were also concerned that the proposal would apply to all schools revenue surplus balances and would not include a minimum level of surplus to be carried over from year to year; and could include the proceeds of schools fundraising. These are all reasonable concerns that require further investigation.
I have listened carefully, based on the responses from a range of stakeholders, and rather than proceed now we will continue to discuss these detailed concerns with schools and work with local authorities to lower excessive surplus revenue balances.
My Department will continue to monitor the overall level of surplus balances during the forthcoming spending review period. If the levels reported do not show a significant reduction we will come forward with further action, having resolved the technical issues, for implementation during the following spending review period.
The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (David Miliband): In my statement of 9 October, I outlined details of ex gratia assistance to be provided to Iraqi staff working for our armed forces and civilian missions in Iraq. This statement gives further details of the categories of staff who will be eligible to apply, the assistance which will be offered, and the procedures for applying.
In designing this policy, interested Departments have taken into account a number of factors. As I made clear in my statement of 9 October, we owe our Iraqi staff an enormous debt of gratitude for their dedicated service. HMG has directly employed many thousands of Iraqis since 2003 and has had indirect employment relationships with many more. Both fairness and realism demand that we focus on that sub-set of staff who have had the closest and most sustained association with us, in circumstances which we judge to be uniquely difficult. We have therefore established clear and transparent eligibility criteria which are, as far as possible, objective in nature.
In addition, the operational effectiveness of our armed forces and civilian missions, which depends in large part on the continued contribution of our Iraqi staff, must continue to be paramount. We need to preserve our ability to recruit and retain qualified Iraqi staff as we continue to discharge the obligations and responsibilities set out in the Prime Ministers statement of 8 October. Both the overall policy, and the design of the scheme in respect of serving staff, have been decided with this in mind.
Finally, we have taken into account the need to ensure that any assistance scheme, in particular in respect of admission to or resettlement in the UK, is practical, realistic and preserves the integrity of wider immigration and asylum policy. For these reasons, we have sought to ensure that admission to the UK is managed as far as possible in line with existing processes and programmes.
The assistance detailed in this statement is offered ex gratia and goes above and beyond the confines of what is lawfully or contractually required. It does not recognise
an obligation, or imply a commitment, to assist locally-employed staff in other countries or theatres of operation, past, present or future. It reflects our judgement that the circumstances in which Iraqi locally-employed staff have served have been uniquely difficult.
as direct employees of the UK Armed Forces or the Ministry of Defence;
on Letters of Appointment from the British Embassy in Baghdad or the British Embassy Offices in Basra and the Kurdistan Region;
as direct employees of DFID or the British Council;
and to contracted staff who work or have worked in Iraq in the following capacities, provided that such staff worked in particularly close association with the UK as an integral and visible part of HMG operations, including having regular, substantial and sustained contact with UK official personnel and regular, substantial and sustained attendance at UK official sites:
under the direct authority of the head of the Basra Provincial Reconstruction Team;
for the British civilian police mission, or for international contractors engaged by HMG to carry out police training programmes; or
for DFID's Centre of Government, Ministry of Interior Capacity Building, Civil Society, Economic Reform, Infrastructure Services or Governorate Capacity Building Programmes.
they have attained 12 months or more continuous service. (In this context, continuous does not refer to service in a single job or capacity. Iraqi staff who have moved between the different categories outlined above will be eligible provided that there was no break in service between moving between different categories and total length of service is 12 months or more); and
that they are (or were) redundant by their employer or that they are (or were) forced to resign their positions because of what we judge to be exceptional circumstances. Decisions on whether a resignation has taken place in exceptional circumstances will be made by representatives of employing Departments on the ground. Staff who are dismissed for misconduct will not be eligible for assistance.
a one-off package of financial assistance. Eligible staff who choose this option will receive a payment equivalent to one months salary for every two months that they were employed, up to a maximum payment of 12 months salary. In addition, they will be able to claim 10 per cent. of the total sum for each dependant as defined below, up to a maximum of five dependants. Under this formula, the maximum payment would be 18 months salary, and the minimum six months; or
Exceptional leave, outside the Immigration Rules. Iraqi staff and their dependants whose applications are successful will be granted entry clearance which will on arrival confer Indefinite Leave to Enter the UK, with no subsequent review. Staff eligible for this scheme will be referred directly by employing Departments. No applications for exceptional leave will be accepted unless directly referred by employing Departments. Assistance with transport to the UK will be provided for staff
and dependants who receive leave to enter. On arrival in the UK, staff and dependants will be provided with a reception and integration package designed to establish them in accommodation and to provide them with advice on employment; or
the opportunity of resettlement in the UK through the UKs Gateway refugee resettlement programme. Provision has been made within the global Gateway programme for a significant number of places for Iraqi refugees in third countries, who are in need of resettlement, to be resettled to the UK. These places will include up to 600 places for staff and dependants who meet the criteria. Staff and their dependants wishing to avail themselves of this opportunity would need qualify as refugees under the 1951 Convention in a third country, and to meet the published criteria for Gateway resettlement. A package of financial assistance will be provided to those who are considered for resettlement under Gateway in order to allow them to support themselves during the screening process in a third country. Resettlement in the UK under the Gateway programme includes a full reception and social integration package.
In the first instance, serving staff who meet the criteria and who wish to apply upon being served with notice of redundancy or upon being forced to resign their job in extraordinary circumstances should contact their UK-based manager or supervisor.
Staff who have left our employ since 8 August 2007 may apply either to their former UK-based manager or supervisor, or follow the procedures set out for former staff. No applications for exceptional leave will be accepted unless directly referred by employing Departments. Staff outside of Iraq wishing to avail themselves of the opportunity for resettlement via the Gateway programme should also approach UNHCR.
they worked as interpreters/translators, or in similarly skilled or professional roles necessitating the regular use of written or spoken English; and
they satisfactorily completed a minimum of 12 months service (in this context, satisfactory means that they were not dismissed for misconduct or similar reasons); and
they were in our employ on or after 1 January 2005 (but before 8 August 2007).
Former staff who meet the above criteria will be able either to apply for a one-off package of financial assistance, as set out above; or to avail themselves of the opportunity for resettlement in the UK, together with their dependants, via the Gateway refugee resettlement programme as set out above. Having taken one package they will not be eligible to apply for other forms of assistance.
Details of telephone numbers and e-mail addresses for former staff who meet the above criteria and wish to apply for assistance will be released during the course of this week through a variety of means, including employing Departments websites and the local media.
spouse or civil partner;
children under the age of 18 who are not leading independent lives (that is, are unmarried or not civil partners, or have not formed an independent family unit);
mother or grandmother who is a widow aged 65 years or over;
father or grandfather who is a widower aged 65 years or over;
parents or grandparents travelling together of whom at least one is aged 65 or over.
In addition, relatives who fit the categories below, who are also wholly or mainly dependent financially on the principal applicant, and have no other close relatives in their own country to whom they could turn for financial support, may be considered for inclusion on a case-by-case basis:
parent or grandparent under the age of 65 if they would be left living alone in Iraq in the most exceptional compassionate circumstances;
son, daughter, sister, brother, uncle or aunt over the age of 18 if they would be left living alone in Iraq in the most exceptional compassionate circumstances.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Meg Hillier): Following a review by the Identity and Passport Service, I have decided that the present requirement for parental consent to passport applications for people aged 16 or 17 should be dropped.
This brings the requirements into line with the age at which adult passports are issued. The decision recognises the fact that many people of that age have left home and are taking day to day responsibility for their lives. The age of 16 is recognised in Scottish law as the age from which young people have the right to determine their own needs and court orders in respect of young people elsewhere in the UK normally expire when the person reaches 16. It is also the age at which the Child Abduction Act 1984 no longer applies, at which National Insurance numbers are issued and compulsory education ends.
The Identity and Passport Service will also no longer enquire into whether all those with parental responsibility have agreed to a change of name by a person aged 16 or 17. A person of 16 or over may legally change their own name and there is no requirement in law for parental consent.
At the same time a new requirement will be introduced for applications for passport renewal to be countersigned for applicants aged 11 or under. This is to confirm identity when passports originally issued to very young children are renewed five years or more later when their appearance will have changed considerably. It is important that we do positively
identify children as a safeguard against child substitution to facilitate abduction or illegal entry. At present parents applying to renew passports for children are advised to obtain a countersignature if the childs appearance has significantly changed; this will be replaced by the new simple objective requirement.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Meg Hillier): The informal G6 group of Interior Ministers from France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Poland and the UK held their most recent meeting in Sopot, Poland on 17-18 October. The Home Secretary attended on behalf of the United Kingdom. A copy of the meetings conclusions has been placed in the Library of the House.
Ministers agreed that the G6 was not the best forum to discuss the future of justice and home affairs (JHA) business in the European Union. They did however share a common interest in seeing future developments within the EU focus on effective and practical co-operation.
In discussing the external dimension of JHA, the Ministers agreed there was a real need for operational dialogue with third countries to be fostered in all policy areas, in particular in the fight against drug trafficking and illegal immigration. In particular all noted that it was not possible to deliver on security in the European Union without such engagement. Within that context there was an emphasis on taking forward the EU's Global Approach to migration in Africa and the East and South-East neighbourhoods.
On counter-terrorism, Ministers discussed the terrorist threat and measures to counter it, including the deportation of suspected terrorist to third countries. Ministers reaffirmed in the conclusions of the meeting their commitment to working together to strengthen States ability to combat terrorism. The Home Secretary also expressed our continued support to the EU police mission to Afghanistan.
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