Section 1: Broad aims for contributing to the eradication of child poverty
4.This section sets a range of broad aims which, if pursued, are likely to contribute to the eradication of child poverty. These broad aims apply for the purposes of further provision made under Part 1. The aims are specified in paragraphs (a) to (m) of subsections (2) and they include aims which relate to household income, material deprivation and social factors relevant to the causes of child poverty. The main purpose of this list of aims is to set the field from which specified public authorities in Wales (see section 6) must choose objectives for inclusion in their child poverty strategies (see section 2).
5.Subsection (8) makes provision for the broad aims to be amended by order of the Welsh Ministers. Orders under this subsection are subject to an affirmative resolution procedure in the Assembly before they are made, which means that they must be approved by the Assembly before they are made (see section 74(5)).
6.Subsections (3) and (4) specify that the “relevant income groups” referred to in the aims in subsections (2)(a) and (b) are income groups defined by reference to the UK median household income. The broad aim in subsection (2)(a) is that there should be no household with children where the household income is less than 60 per cent of the median household income in the United Kingdom. The broad aim of subsection (2)(b) is that no children living in households where income is less than 70 per cent of the UK median household income should be “materially deprived”.
7.Welsh Ministers may make regulations to say how median income and material deprivation are determined for these purposes.
8.Subsection (6) makes provision in the event that the duty on Welsh authorities to prepare a strategy comes into force before any regulations are made under subsection (5). In that event, Welsh authorities must take their own view on what the material deprivation and median-related indicators mean.
Section 2: Strategies for contributing to the eradication of child poverty
9.Section 2 imposes a duty on “Welsh authorities” to prepare and publish a strategy for contributing to the eradication of child poverty in Wales. The strategy should set out objectives chosen by the authority which relate to the broad aims which are relevant to, and which can be pursued in, the exercise of its functions. The strategy must also contain the actions to be performed and functions to be exercised by the authority for the purpose of achieving its objectives. In the case of the Welsh Ministers and local authorities, they must choose objectives which relate to each of the broad aims.
10.Subsection (4) provides that Welsh Ministers must, in preparing their strategy, choose objectives which relate to their powers to provide funding to any person.
11.Subsection (5) gives the Welsh Ministers a power to make regulations to specify particular objectives for a Welsh authority over and above any objectives which the Welsh authority might chose for itself.
12.The list of Welsh authorities which are subject to the duty to prepare and publish a strategy is set out in section 6.
13.Provision about the preparation and publication of strategies are set out in sections 3 to 5 of the Measure and section 26 of the Children Act 2004 (“the 2004 Act”) (as amended by section 4 of the Measure).
Section 3: Strategies prepared by the Welsh Ministers
14.Section 3 sets out provision about the making, publication and review of strategies under Part 1 of the Measure that are prepared by the Welsh Ministers.
15.Subsection (1) provides that the Welsh Ministers must publish their first strategy under the Measure in 2010; it requires them to keep their strategy under review and empowers them to remake or revise it from time to time.
16.The Welsh Ministers must consult the Secretary of State and such other persons as they consider appropriate before making, remaking or revising their strategy (subsection (2)).
17.Subsection (4) requires that the strategy (new or revised) is published and subsection (5) requires that any new or revised strategy must be laid before the Assembly. Following revision, the Welsh Ministers may either publish a document setting out the revisions or publish the strategy with the revisions incorporated.
18.Subsection (6) requires that the Welsh Ministers publish a report in 2013 and in every third year subsequently, containing an assessment of the extent to which objectives have been met and if objectives have not been met, progress that has been made towards meeting them. Reports must be laid before the Assembly.
Section 4: Strategies prepared by local authorities (children’s service authorities)
19.Section 4 makes amendments to section 26 of the 2004 Act so that, for a local authority, the duty to have a child poverty strategy is linked to the existing duty under that section to prepare a plan saying how, more broadly, it will discharge its functions in relation to children and young persons. Subsection (1) provides that a local authority’s duty to publish a strategy is discharged by the publication of a plan under section 26 of the 2004 Act. The existing duty is amended by subsection (3) so that a local authority must include in its plan its strategy for contributing to the eradication of child poverty in Wales under section 2(1) of the Measure.
20.As well as their own child poverty strategy, a local authority may also include the child poverty strategies of other Welsh authorities with whom it has made an arrangement under section 25 of the 2004 Act. In this regard, see also section 5(4) and 5(5) which make provision that if another Welsh authority’s child poverty strategy is incorporated into the local authority’s plan under the 2004 Act, then its duty under section 2 of the Measure is discharged.
Section 5: Strategies prepared by other Welsh authorities
21.Section 5 makes provision about the strategies to be prepared by Welsh authorities other than the Welsh Ministers and local authorities. The Welsh Ministers may make regulations about the making, publication and review of their strategies and consultation on their strategies (subsection (3)).
22.Section 25 of the 2004 Act places a duty on a local authority to make arrangements to promote co-operation between the authority and its “relevant partners”, who are specified in subsection (4) of that section. Two of these partners are also Welsh authorities for the purpose of Part 1 of the Measure. They are a local health board and the Public Health Wales National Health Service Trust (if it is providing services in the area of the authority). These Welsh authorities can discharge their duty under section 2 of the Measure by having the strategy included as an integral part of the plans of each local authority with whom they enter into arrangements under the 2004 Act, rather than preparing and publishing a separate plan of their own (subsections (4) and (5)). A Welsh authority which exercises functions in relation to more than one local authority area will only discharge its duty to prepare and publish a strategy by having its strategy incorporated into each of the plans of the local authorities in question.
Section 6: The Welsh authorities
23.Section 6 sets out which Welsh authorities are subject to the duty under Section 2 of the Measure. Subsection (2) allows for the list to be amended by order of the Welsh Ministers. Such an order would need to be approved by the Assembly before being made (see section 74(5)) and any person the Welsh Ministers intend to add must be consulted before being added to the list (subsection (3)).
24.Subsection (4) makes it clear that the only persons who can be included on the list are persons having functions of a public nature whose principal functions relate to one or more of the fields in Part 1 of Schedule 5 to the Government of Wales Act 2006. Tribunals which fall within this category are excluded.
25.Any person added to the list who has functions of both a public and a private nature may only be included in the list in relation to those of its functions which are of a public nature (subsection (5)).
Section 7: Local authority duty to secure the availability of free childcare
26.Subsection (1) places a duty on local authorities to secure free childcare places for certain children who are not of compulsory school age. The operation of this section depends upon further provision to be made in regulations by the Welsh Ministers about—
the type of childcare that must be provided,
the periods for which it is to be available,
the description of the child for whom the care is to be made available (including the age they must have attained).
27.In subsection (3) ‘childcare’ is defined as being either child minding or day care, of a sort which must be registered with the Welsh Ministers(1) under Part 2 of this Measure or care which is approved in accordance with a tax credits scheme made by Welsh Ministers.
Section 8: Parental support services: powers of a local authority
28.Subsection (1) gives local authorities a power to provide, secure or participate in the provision of parental support services. These services are defined in subsection (3) as training in parenting skills or any other service to promote or facilitate effective parenting. Authorities will be able to provide these services directly themselves, commission them from others or collaborate with others in the provision of them.
29.Subsection (2) requires that such parental support services as are provided by local authorities using their powers under subsection (1) must be provided free of charge.
Section 9: Health support services: powers of a local authority
30.Subsection (1) gives local authorities a power to provide, secure or participate in the provision of health support services. These services are defined in subsection (4) as services providing assistance in relation to the health of children or parents of children. But in the case of services to parents of children it is a condition of the exercise of the power that the assistance is necessary to secure the well-being of the children of those parents. Health support services under this section do not include the provision of medical, dental, ophthalmic or pharmaceutical services.
31.As with parental support services, authorities can either provide the services directly themselves, commission them from others or collaborate with others in the provision of them.
32.Subsection (2) requires that when exercising their powers under subsection (1) to provide, secure or participate in the provision of nursing services, local authorities must have the agreement of the relevant local health board.
33.Subsection (3) requires that health support and preventative services provided by local authorities using their powers under subsection (1) must be provided free of charge.
Section 10: Regulations about services to tackle child poverty
Section 10 does two main things.
34.First, it empowers the Welsh Ministers by regulations to require local authorities to secure, free of charge, the provision of parental support services or health support services of the kind described in sections 8 and 9 respectively (paragraphs (a) and (b) of subsection (1)). Such regulations may also specify—
the description of service that must be provided by the authority, and
the description of children and parents to whom the duty will apply.
35.Secondly, it empowers the Welsh Ministers to apply the duty to secure the provision of childcare under section 7(1) and any duty in regulations under this section to secure the provision of parental support services or health support services in only one or more parts of a local authority area (paragraphs (c) and (d) of subsection (1).
36.Subsection (2) provides that where the Welsh Ministers specify that services are required to be provided by reference to an area, the area or areas may either be specified in the regulations or the regulations could require the local authority itself to specify one or more areas.
The functions of the Welsh Ministers in respect of the registration and inspection of child minding and day care are discharged by the Care and Social Services Inspectorate for Wales.