The Children and Social Work Bill is now taking written submissions from anyone with an interest in its contents.

Best known for its controversial clause allowing local authorities to do away with fundamental duties and responsibilities set out in children’s social care legislation, this review stage represents a crucial opportunity to share your views with the Public Bill Committee, and make sure children’s rights are not further reduced and their lives not placed at greater risk. This is a highly effective process, and a great deal of weight is given to evidence, so your contribution CAN make a difference.

The window in which to send in submissions though, is narrow – The Committee is set to have its first meeting on Tuesday 13 December and will stop receiving written evidence at the end of the Committee stage at 5.00pm on Tuesday 17 January, 2017.

Once the Committee completes its consideration of the Bill it will no longer able to receive written evidence. Parliament’s website goes on to advise that it can conclude earlier than the expected deadline of 5.00pm on Tuesday 17 January 2017, so it’s vital to share your views as soon as you can. 

We are adding some useful information from Parliament UK below, but please do click on the first link above for a full break down of the details including how the Committee handles the evidence it receives:

Guidance on submitting written evidence

Deadline for written evidence submissions

The Public Bill Committee is now able to receive written evidence. The sooner you send in your submission, the more time the Committee will have to take it into consideration. Once the Committee has dealt with an amendment it will not revisit it. The order in which amendments are taken in Committee can be found under Selection of Amendments.

The Committee is expected to meet for the first time on Tuesday 13 December 2016; it will stop receiving written evidence at the end of the Committee stage on Tuesday 17 January 2017. Please note that when the Committee concludes its consideration of the Bill it is no longer able to receive written evidence and it can conclude earlier than the expected deadline of 5.00pm on Tuesday 17 January 2017.

What should written evidence cover?

Your submission should address matters contained within the Bill and concentrate on issues where you have a special interest or expertise, and factual information of which you would like the Committee to be aware.

Your submission could most usefully:

suggest amendments to the Bill, with supporting explanation; and
(when amendments are published) support or oppose amendments tabled to the Bill by Members of Parliament, with supporting explanation
It is helpful if the submission includes a brief introduction about you or your organisation. The submission should not have been previously published or circulated elsewhere.

If you have any concerns about your submission, please contact the Scrutiny Unit (details on the web page).

How should written evidence be submitted?

Your submission should be emailed to scrutiny@parliament.uk. Please note that submissions sent to the Government department in charge of the Bill will not be treated as evidence to the Public Bill Committee. Submissions should be in the form of a Word document. A summary should be provided. Paragraphs should be numbered, but there should be no page numbering.

Essential statistics or further details can be added as annexes, which should also be numbered. To make publication easier, please avoid the use of coloured graphs, complex diagrams or pictures. As a guideline, submissions should not exceed 3,000 words.

Please include in the covering email the name, address, telephone number and email address of the person responsible for the submission. The submission should be dated.

What will happen to my evidence?

The written evidence will be circulated to all Committee Members to inform their consideration of the Bill.

Most submissions will also be published on the internet as soon as possible after the Committee has started sitting.

There may well be other clauses in the Bill you’d like to address, but for Researching Reform, Clause 29 is a priority. Whilst the Lords have tried their best to encourage the government to remove this Clause, they have this week confirmed their intention to keep it (though they’ve suggested the Clause will be edited in some way). Child welfare organisations and lawyers are equally concerned about this Clause, and an official statement from the Magistrates Association also expresses concerns.

Whether you agree with this Clause or not, or have thoughts and ideas about any of the other clauses within the Children and Social Work Bill, Public Bill Committees are a powerful way to help inform and shape our laws and so we would urge anyone with an interest in this Bill to make a submission. Good luck.

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