Prepare your local authority children’s services for Brexit

Directors of local authority children’s services in England need to prepare, so they can minimise disruption to their services if there’s a no-deal Brexit.

This guidance was withdrawn on

This page is out of date.

Local authorities should continue to follow the current guidance for children’s services.

For current information, read:

You can also read about the transition period.

Make plans with Local Resilience Forums

Continue to work with partners in your Local Resilience Forums to assess and plan for the possible effects of Brexit in your local authority area.

Make sure you have:

  • plans to manage and resource casework if there’s disruption
  • carried out risk assessments where necessary
  • considered how all children supported by children’s social care, and the organisations that support them, might be affected by Brexit and have plans in place to deal with disruption
  • checked that children’s homes caring for children, located outside your local authority area, are aware of their safeguarding responsibilities
  • read related guidance on Brexit from central government

Help staff with the EU Settlement Scheme

Let staff who are from the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland know that they’ll need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to continue living in the UK after 2020. Deal or no deal, they will have until at least 31 December 2020 to apply.

There are resources available to help you support people with their applications.

Anyone who’s applied to the EU Settlement Scheme can view and prove their settled or pre-settled status although they will not be required to do so until at least January 2021.

Irish citizens’ right to live in the UK will not change after Brexit. This means they do not need to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme, but they can if they want to.

Temporary leave to remain

Let staff arriving in the UK after a no-deal Brexit know that they can apply for European temporary leave to remain if they:

  • are from the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland, and
  • arrive in the UK after a no-deal Brexit and before 1 January 2021

They’ll need to apply by 31 December 2020.

Employing people from the EU

You’ll need to continue to:

You can also check whether someone has settled or pre-settled status but you are not required to do this until 1 January 2021.

European professional qualifications

Tell staff with professional qualifications from the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland that have been recognised by a UK regulator, that they can continue to work as they do now. This includes social workers.

Any social workers who apply for registration before Brexit that they should continue with their application using the current system as far as possible.

You should advise any social workers with qualifications from the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland applying after Brexit should follow the arrangements set out by the regulator.

Children supported by children’s social care applying to the EU Settlement Scheme

Your local authority should help looked after children and care leavers who are EU citizens apply for settled status through the EU Settlement Scheme.

Your local authority should identify a member of staff to lead on the EU Settlement Scheme for children in care and care leavers. Email their details to us at so that we can contact them with guidance and support.

Consider setting up a process to establish the nationality and potential need for an application to the EU Settlement Scheme for any child receiving support from your local authority.

Check whether the child has a passport or ID if they are subsequently looked after by your local authority.

Your local authority will need to:

  • identify which children need to apply, and offer support to any who need help with identity documentation or other paperwork
  • raise awareness and provide support to parents and carers of EU citizen children accommodated under Section 20 of the Children Act 1989, where needed, or direct them to relevant community support if more appropriate
  • share information with personal advisers supporting care leavers to make their own applications

The Home Office has provided guidance to local authorities in making applications on behalf of eligible children in their care.

There’s also a toolkit for community leaders to help you.

International Child Protection

Your local authority should use the ‘1996 Hague Protection of Children Convention’, and existing departmental advice on cross-border child protection cases, when handling cases with EU Member States, if there’s a no-deal Brexit.

This is because the EU Regulation on cross border placement of children (commonly known as Brussels IIa) will no longer apply between the UK and EU member states.

Your local authority will already use the 1996 Hague Convention for non-EU child protection cases with those countries who have signed up to the Convention. This means that the protection of children across borders will continue after Brexit.

You should seek independent legal advice on existing and new cases. There’s also guidance for legal professionals on family law disputes involving the EU.

We will withdraw the guidance on the placement of looked-after children in EU member states as it will no longer apply if there’s a no-deal Brexit.

Children seeking asylum in the UK

The UK will no longer be part of the Dublin Regulation or associated Common European Asylum System measures if there’s a no-deal Brexit.

This means that children in another EU member state, with qualifying family in the UK will not be able to transfer to the UK to have their asylum claim assessed.

Local authority responsibilities will not change for:

  • families that have already been reunited under the Dublin Regulation
  • families reunited after the UK leaves the EU (including where a take charge request, lodged before exit day is accepted)

Contact your food suppliers before Brexit

Ask your direct supplier whether:

  • they’ll need to change meals or ingredients
  • their secondary suppliers are prepared

The school food standards allow you to make changes to school meals but you’ll still need to:

  • meet nutritional standards
  • meet pupils’ special dietary needs
  • manage allergens
  • provide meals to registered pupils who request one
  • provide free meals to pupils who qualify

Avoiding allergens if you change meals or ingredients

Check that your suppliers and caterers are:

Review how you collect, use and share personal data

Review your data protection procedures before Brexit so you can continue to share and receive personal data after Brexit.

You should also follow the specific guidance for local authorities accessing data from the European Economic Area.

Early years entitlements

We’ll communicate any relevant updates directly to early years local authority leads. We expect early years entitlements to stay the same.

Supporting schools in your area

Make sure that schools are aware of our guidance on preparing schools for Brexit.

Medical supplies

Continue with your normal arrangements for medical supplies to support children and young people with health conditions.

Read the guidance on planning for a possible no-deal Brexit: information for the health and care sector for more information.

Travel disruption

Assess potential travel disruption in your area and make plans so that you can continue to deliver your services.

Published 15 March 2019
Last updated 30 October 2019 + show all updates
  1. Formatting changes have been made to highlight actions that people need to take.

  2. Added food allergy advice you should follow when making changes to school menus or substituting food products.

  3. Format updates have been made to highlight actions that people need to take. A link has also been added that allows people to sign up for email alerts to get the latest information about Brexit.

  4. First published.