Moreover, we are making it simpler and easier for schools and childcare providers to work together to increase the amount of childcare available on school sites. Only last year we created childminder agencies which will improve the support available for both childminders and parents, and we are simplifying existing regulatory frameworks to allow nurseries to expand more easily. The Government fully understand that childcare can be an expensive outgoing for many families across the country. Childcare costs increased substantially under the previous Government. They rose by nearly 50% between 2002 and 2010. The average cost of childcare rose faster than inflation for seven years. After 12 years of consistently rising prices the costs of childcare in England under this Government have stabilised for the first time. Indeed, the costs of some of the most popular types of childcare are actually falling. That is a clear demonstration that this Government’s reforms are making a real difference to families across the UK. I hope that the noble Baroness will be reassured that the intention of her amendment is already being met. I therefore ask her to withdraw it.

Baroness Jones of Whitchurch: I thank the noble Lord for those comments. Likewise, we on this side do not need any lessons on economics from him, given the fact that the Chancellor has failed to meet a number of targets that he has set himself, including failing to reduce the deficit. That is one of the reasons why hard-working families are suffering so badly currently.

The truth is that the Government’s figures simply do not add up. They suggested that families will receive £2,000 per family. That is not true. By the Government’s own admission, only 100,000 out of the 1.9 million families eligible for the scheme will receive the full amount—one in 20 families will be eligible for the scheme. The Government’s own impact assessment suggested that the average benefit to families will be far lower—at £600 a year. In addition, work by the Resolution Foundation indicates that 80% of the families that will receive benefit from top-up payments are in the top 40% of the income distribution. Even the remaining 20% will go to those in the middle distribution, so the whole payment system is being skewed to those who are not really in desperate need of these payments.

Nevertheless, we could spend the rest of the evening debating the economy. Given that it is fairly late I am prepared to withdraw the amendment, and I am sure that we will carry on debating these issues elsewhere.

Amendment 35AE withdrawn.

Schedule 2: Registration of childcare: premises

Amendment 36

Moved by Baroness Neville-Rolfe

36: Schedule 2, page 151, line 34, after “fine.” insert—

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“(2) Until section 85(2) of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 comes into force, in subsection (1)(b), “a fine” is to be read as “a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale”.”

Amendment 36 agreed.

Schedule 2, as amended, agreed.

Clauses 75 to 77 agreed.

Amendment 36ZA

Moved by Baroness Jones of Whitchurch

36ZA: After Clause 77, insert the following new Clause—

“Provision of comprehensive careers guidance

( ) The Secretary of State shall publish a report on the provision of comprehensive careers guidance which must include, but is not limited to, assessments on—

(a) the implementation and effectiveness of section 29 of the Education Act 2011 (careers guidance in schools in England),

(b) the extent to which the National Careers Service’s provision of telephone and web-based support has been used by young people,

(c) the feasibility and benefits of making the National Careers Service helpline accessible via Skype,

(d) the feasibility and benefits of extending to young people the National Careers Service’s provision of face to face advice.”

Baroness Jones of Whitchurch: My Lords, this amendment seeks to address the continuing widespread concern about the operation of the school-based careers service introduced by this Government in 2012. Since then, there has been a chorus of criticism that the service is not delivering a quality product. Schools, voluntary organisations working with young people and the Education Select Committee have all added their criticisms, and these concerns have been reflected in numerous debates here in your Lordships’ House. I recently visited a number of schools that have been judged outstanding by Ofsted but where the careers advice and work experience opportunities are, quite frankly, poor. Meanwhile, while the Government continue to prevaricate, cohorts of young people are making poor choices about which subjects to study. They are failing to appreciate the range of training and apprenticeships on offer as an alternative to university. They are also failing to grasp the new enterprise and employment opportunities that might be on offer.

At the time when these changes were introduced by the Government, we raised a series of objections and amendments, which were opposed. Sadly, we have proved to be right. By not ring-fencing the funds given to schools for careers, the money has dissipated into other priorities. Many schools are now using unqualified teachers to provide careers advice, with the responsibility often added on to other roles. Their knowledge is often outdated and limited. There also remains a pressure, which is not appropriate for many young people, from their teachers to stay on in the sixth form and follow traditional academic routes.

Recently, in the Education Select Committee in the other place, a UNISON survey was quoted to show that 83% of schools no longer employed professional careers advisers or teachers, with the role often being

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picked up by teaching assistants and other support staff. This was echoed by the committee’s chair, Graham Stuart, who reported a UTC that was training its receptionist to be a careers adviser. That cannot be right. As we know, Ofsted has reported that 80% of schools are offering an inadequate careers service. Meanwhile, young people are missing out on personalised support and increasingly rely on family and friends to give them advice. The take-up of the formal online advice system continues to be patchy.

Children from disadvantaged backgrounds are particularly losing out. They do not necessarily have access to a social network of people in a variety of jobs and, often, their parents are not ambitious or encouraging enough to them. Good careers advice is a crucial component of social mobility, expanding pupils’ horizons and opening their eyes to a range of work possibilities. We believe that we have already wasted too much time allowing young people to be let down in this way. We need an urgent review of the provision and to make it mandatory for those giving advice to be trained and qualified. We need to ensure that young people get the personal face-to-face advice and mentoring that will help them make the right choices about their future qualifications and careers. We have waited quite long enough for the Government to act on the evidence before them, and we feel that the time is right to take action to put the service back on track. This is what our amendment seeks to achieve.

Lord Freeman (Con): I very much agree with the thrust of what the noble Baroness has just outlined but I think that one needs to go further, which is why I am a very strong supporter of Part 6 of the Bill, on education evaluation. The provision of guidance is important but to do that, one needs further information about what young students completing their courses at school, and even university, go on to do. Education evaluation as set out in Part 6 admirably explains how further information can be gathered. Currently, the information gathered is on academic and employment results for those leaving school at 16.

I speak as chairman of a charity, with more than 200 schools dealing with this issue of further employment for those who may not have had the best of chances in life and may not have achieved, at least early on in their education, the necessary qualifications. What is needed is evaluation at a higher level, if they go on to higher education at a university or to employment, of what has then been the outcome for those students. That in turn will relate to the advice given to children and parents as to which schools and courses to follow. That is why I very much welcome and commend education evaluation as set out in the Bill, which broadens what already happens.

Lord Stoneham of Droxford: May I briefly say that I share the thoughts of the noble Lord, Lord Freeman, and can extend them from my business experience? I have very little experience to give on the education side but, as a recipient of skills and as an employer, I have strong views on the development of the careers service. There is widespread criticism of the careers service throughout the business community, which is deeply sad. This reflects the fact that we still have a long way

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to go in developing partnerships locally, between local businesses and schools. We must make sure that these services are provided not just for the local school but in partnerships, so that access to the services is wider than it is to school leavers, and that we put much more emphasis on the merits of technical education rather than academic prowess. The Government are looking at this area but they need to give it more attention. We will be looking at how the thinking develops as the Bill goes through the House.

Lord Nash: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baronesses, Lady Jones and Lady King, for this amendment and for raising the important matter of careers guidance. I hear what the noble Baroness says about not carrying on the economic batting backwards and forwards. I am sorry to hear it, because I was rather enjoying it, but I agree that, in the interests of time, we should stop. However, I must point out that she did say that the Chancellor had failed to reduce the deficit and, of course, it is a clear and unquestionable fact that this Government have substantially reduced the deficit we inherited from the previous Government. We are absolutely committed, also, to ensuring high-quality careers advice and I hope to reassure the noble Baroness that sufficient action is in train.

The Government commissioned Ofsted in 2012 to carry out a thematic review to examine the impact of the statutory duty on schools to secure independent careers guidance during its first year of operation. Ofsted’s report, published in September 2013, found that only one in five schools ensured that all students in years 9 to 11 received sufficient information to consider a wide breadth of career possibilities. This is not surprising. The guidance on careers that this Government took over was in a very poor state: virtually nobody had a good word to say about the Connexions service, including Alan Milburn. That is why we put the responsibility for providing good careers guidance on to schools.

This, however, is only a very recent development and it is not surprising that it has not immediately transformed provision. We have debated careers guidance on many occasions and there seems to be a perception among some noble Lords that we should hark back to some former golden age of careers guidance, which I certainly do not recognise. Careers guidance in schools has, in recent times, been poor and we have taken strong action to improve it. However, in response to the Ofsted findings, we took action, including publishing statutory and non-statutory guidance, strengthening our accountability framework and reshaping the role of the National Careers Service.

The new statutory guidance, effective from September last year, provides a clear framework for schools. It recognises that face-to-face guidance delivered by careers advisers is an important element of a varied programme of high-quality support, alongside other elements including employer contacts, work tasters, mentoring and online provision. Of course, we know that a number of commentators, including McKinsey, have said that active engagement with places of work is of far higher quality than face-to-face career guidance for most pupils.

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Improvements to the National Careers Service website and helpline have made it more accessible through a range of digital channels, including Skype, and mobile phone applications. There is new content on the website written specifically for young people. Youth charities and young people are informing further developments. We have continued to listen to a number of respected contributors in this area, including the Gatsby Charitable Foundation and the Education Select Committee of this House. We have listened to schools, colleges, employers, parents and young people themselves. I pay generous tribute to my noble friend Lord Young for his invaluable work in this area. His report, Enterprise for All, has informed our thinking about the way forward. All have made it clear that many schools and colleges still require additional support, so, on 10 December last year, the Government announced the establishment of a new employer-led careers and enterprise company, chaired by Christine Hodgson, Chair of Capgemini UK, who has a strong track record of developing young talent.

7 pm

The company will act as an umbrella organisation to help employers, schools and colleges and other organisations navigate their way through the existing landscape. The Government will support the new company with start-up funding in 2015-16, the cost of which will be met from the £20 million announced in the Autumn Statement. The company will also build on the excellent work already going on in some parts of the country, although I accept that it is patchy, and ensure that it is replicated in other parts. My noble friend Lord Stoneham referred to the importance of schools and businesses working together. There are some excellent organisations up and down the country, such as Inspiring the Future, Primary Futures, Make the Grade, Business Class, Made in Sheffield, the Glass Academy and many others. One of the functions of the company will be to co-ordinate that provision so that it is available across the country. The company will also work closely with the National Careers Service.

We anticipate that the changes we have put in place will transform the provision of careers education and advice for young people, over time, and inspire them to take control of and shape their own futures. None the less, we recognise the need to keep this implementation under review. We strengthened the Ofsted framework for 2014-15: Ofsted inspectors now consider the extent to which a school has developed and implemented a

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strategy for ensuring that all pupils in years 8 to 13 receive effective careers advice. Ofsted will summarise inspection findings and provide a termly report to the Department for Education. We are also considering the case for a further, in-depth review of careers guidance in 2015-16. I hope that the noble Baroness will be reassured that the spirit of her amendment is being addressed, without the need for legislation, and is therefore content to withdraw it.

Baroness Jones of Whitchurch: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister and to the other noble Lords opposite who contributed to this debate. I accept what the Minister says: that there was no golden age in the past. Sadly, if anything, the situation has deteriorated since the Connexions service was abandoned. Many people would say that what we have now is worse than in the past, rather than an improvement on it. What concerns me about what the Minister said is his lack of urgency—that this new careers company, which is being set up, may or may not play a good role in disseminating good practice and that he hopes it succeeds. However, that will take a considerable time to have any impact and we have young people leaving now who are not getting the advice that they need. I very much echo the points made by noble Lords opposite that what we really need is good employers going into schools now, being encouraged to go in and giving work experience to young people. That really ought to be the way forward and is what is needed, but it is not always happening.

I should perhaps have said, too, that the education evaluation and destination data are absolutely crucial. I am very pleased that the Government have taken an initiative on this. We are also very supportive of having that destination data. We have some criticisms about whether they have the right model but at this point, anything is certainly better than nothing. The careers process, and how you then measure whether children have found the right career, work experience or courses for them, really ought to be a seamless, positive whole. It is not like that at the moment. Children are floundering around with little advice and those who most need it are the ones who do not appear to be getting it. It is a very sorry state. We may well come back to this issue but for the moment, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 36ZA withdrawn.

Committee adjourned at 7.04 pm.