A Big or Divided Society?

The final recommendations and report of the panel reviews into the impact of the coalition Government policy on Gypsies and Travellers

The Report was launched at a reception in the Jubilee Room of the House of Commons on the 11th May 2011 at a reception hosted by Lord Avebury and Andy Slaughter MP. Lord Avebury says:

“In the report, a number of experts and key stakeholders have expressed fears that the Government’s localist agenda could well bring to a halt Traveller site construction in the UK. If this is so, it will impact negatively on the welfare of Gypsy and Traveller families; increase the number of unauthorized encampments and developments, and burden the wider community with expense and inconvenience. I will therefore be proposing amendments to the Localism Bill placing a statutory duty on local authorities to grant sufficient planning permissions for Gypsy and Traveller sites to accommodate Gypsies residing in or resorting to their area. The test of sufficiency will be the numbers arrived at through the Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Needs Assessment, together with the Public Inquiries that followed. The Secretary of State will have the power to direct local authorities which fail to achieve these numbers, by analogy with the power given to the Minister to issue directions to local authorities to provide sites in the Caravan Sites Act 1968”.

The report was based on two days of hearings which took place in Parliament at which a range of stakeholders presented evidence. The research was project managed by the Travellers Aid Trust (TAT). TAT Administrator Susan Alexander stated:

“The Travellers Aid Trust has actively supported Traveller law reform for many years. In light of the proposed policy changes being put forward by the new Coalition government and their potential impact on the Gypsy Roma Traveller community, the Trust welcomed the opportunity to facilitate a Panel Review. The Panel has provided a platform that has brought together a wide range of stakeholders enabling them to share their wealth of knowledge and experience in this area”.

For more information contact:

The Travellers Aid Trust
PO Box 16,
Kidwelly,
Carmarthenshire SA17 5BN

info@travellersaidtrust.org

Telephone/Fax: 01554 891876

The report can be downloaded at:

www.travellersaidtrust.org/panel-review

Letter to Eric Pickles

From Lord Avebury: April 28, 2011

ericavebury@gmail.com

ericavebury.blogspot.com

 

Dear Mr Pickles,

An EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies up to 2020 (Brussels, 5.4.2011 COM (2011) 173 final

The European Commission recently published the above referenced Framework on the situation of Roma (including Gypsies and Travellers) and advocating that all member States set specific targets related to integration strategies from now to the end of 2020.

You may know that the Department for Education took an important decision in 2009 to establish a Gypsy, Roma and Travellers Stakeholders Group so that the communities might be informed about and consulted on educational policy issues. I was asked to be its chairperson and willingly accepted.

At our last meeting on the April 13, the Stakeholders Group made a firm commitment to fully assist the relevant government departments with all the policy developments and inclusion strategies that will be necessary for the Framework to be satisfactorily implemented in England and Wales.

In terms of education, you will be aware from the information being presented at your cross-departmental Ministerial Group on Gypsy and Traveller Inequalities, that much progress has been made over the last 30 or so years. However, my group members, together with myself as the President of ACERT, are also fully aware that there is still much to be done to improve the educational opportunities for these communities.

The Stakeholders Group therefore requests that you will formally include them in all of the policy and decision making processes stemming from the European Commission’s Framework policy. It would be very helpful to have your assurances on this request so that we can start to work with officials in relevant departments on the important tasks that now need to be addressed.

The Rt Hon Eric Pickles MP,
Communities and Local Government,
Eland House,
Bressenden Place,
London SW1E 5DU

Letter Sent to All Directors of Children’s Services in England

Re: Gypsy, Roma and Traveller provision

For many years ACERT has campaigned to enable Gypsies, Roma and Travellers to access education and achieve their full potential. Over this period the work of Local Authority services has made a measurable difference to the engagement and attainment of these groups. However, these pupils continue to be extremely vulnerable to underachievement and are the lowest performing nationally at all Key Stages.

We are therefore writing to all local authorities to seek the following reassurances:

That financial cutbacks in your authority will not impact disproportionately on services supporting the inclusion and achievement of Gypsies, Roma and Travellers

That your authority will continue to monitor and reach out to the most vulnerable children and young people, particularly those who are highly mobile, are registered for Elective Home Education, are Children Missing Education, are Persistent Absentees, are excluded or are identified with Child Protection concerns,

That your authority will monitor progress towards closing the gap of achievement between Gypsy, Roma and Traveller pupils and other groups, evaluated in comparison with your statistical neighbours and national data (see DfE/NFER Research Report DFE-RR043 October 2010).

We would also be interested to hear how, in the light of funding changes, your authority is developing its policies to improve the situation of these communities.

ACERT aims to gain a national picture of the future provision and good practice for addressing the needs of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller children and young people. We will share the outcomes with the DfE and other interested parties in order to ensure that the needs of these children and young people continue to be met. We would also be pleased to offer training and advice to schools and local authorities to raise awareness of the challenges facing Gypsy, Roma and Traveller pupils, and develop effective strategies to improve aspirations and attainment.

We thank you in advance for your response.

Lord Avebury, ACERT President

The Equalities Award

The new EQualities Award is a national initiative designed to help all types of schools and children’s centres to review and develop their policy and provision as well as recognising their work in:

  • advancing equality of opportunity
  • eliminating discrimination
  • fostering good relations

See their website www.equalitiesaward.co.uk for more details and download a pdf flyer below.

Download a flyer to find out more