Increasing data allowances on mobile devices to support disadvantaged children – Get help with technology

This scheme temporarily increases data allowances for mobile phone users on certain networks. This is so that children and young people can access remote education if their face-to-face education is disrupted. 

Who can get help

Schools, trusts and local authorities can request mobile data increases for children and young people who:

  • do not have fixed broadband at home
  • cannot afford additional data for their devices
  • are experiencing disruption to their face-to-face education

Children with access to a mobile phone on one of the following networks might be able to benefit:

  • Three
  • Smarty
  • Virgin Mobile
  • EE
  • Tesco Mobile
  • Sky Mobile

Other providers may join the scheme at a later stage.

When help is available

Schools, trusts and local authorities can request mobile data increases when schools report a closure or have pupils self-isolating.

They can also make requests for children who cannot attend school face-to-face because:

  • they’re clinically extremely vulnerable
  • restrictions prevent them from going to school

How to request a mobile data increase

For each request, we need to know:

  • the name of the account holder
  • the number of the mobile device
  • the mobile network of that device (for example Three)

There’s an online guide to help gather mobile information.

Schools, trusts and local authorities need to submit mobile information through our online service. Each provider will vary in how quickly they process requests.

Once a network provider has processed a data increase, they’ll send a text message to the account holder. It’s also possible to check the status of requests through the online service.

Another option for increasing internet access

If increasing mobile data isn’t a suitable option for some children, schools can also request 4G wireless routers. Find out more about choosing help with internet access.

If you have questions

If you have any questions, email using the subject line ‘Increasing data allowances’.

‘I feel so worn down’: reactions to England’s new Covid lockdown

Snapshots from Exeter and Manchester highlight grim determination but also concerns about family life

Nicola Davis 

Sarah Blakesley, a businesswoman and mum, was having a difficult day. “It’s very hectic and very stressful,” she said. “I just want to get today over with, to be honest.”

The start of the third national lockdown was having an impact both on commercial and family life. “I run a cleaning company. Lots of clients are shutting down their offices. I may have to furlough workers.”

Blakesley, from Exeter in Devon, also has a 17-year-old who will not be going to college for the foreseeable future. “We don’t know what’s happening with college so that’s another worry. I wish we didn’t have to go through this again. I’m concerned about people’s mental health.”

Across the city people were working through tricky professional and family issues.

Sue Jones was in one of the city parks with her son and daughter, both of primary school age. She had to take a day off from her job in a food processing plant to look after them. “I couldn’t get childcare for them in time so had to phone in and ask for the day off. I feel so worn down by the idea of another lockdown.”

The Covid rates for Exeter are by no means as bad as other parts of the country – there were just under 200 new cases per 100,000 people in the seven days up to 31 December.

But most people seemed resigned to the idea that a UK-wide effort is needed. “We’ve got to have a national lockdown. It’s got out of control,” said Alan Taylor, who manages a hardware store in the city centre.

“The tiers clearly haven’t worked – people didn’t know what was going on. At least everyone knows the score now.”

Ben Mangan, the owner of the Eat on the Green restaurant near the cathedral, said he was disappointed at the lockdown. “But we could see it coming and I agree with it. The situation is so dire, the government had no choice. I think we need to all be in it together. It’s fair that there’s one rule for everyone.”

Steph Flisher was sticking a handwritten sign to the window of her dog grooming business informing customers that she was closing. “Safety has to take priority. We’ve all got to come together and get this sorted. The NHS needs us to do this.”

Faye Jennings-Mosquera is allowed to keep her zero-waste food and cleaning products store open. “I think the lockdown needs to happen,” she said. Her partner was at home looking after their two young children. “If we have got two months let’s just do it, let’s all wear masks and be respectful to each other.”

Around the corner at the food bank, teams of volunteers were working hard to prepare food packages, fearing there would be an increase in people unable to afford the groceries they need.

Cllr Philip Bialyk, the leader of Exeter city council, said he “reluctantly” accepted the need for the lockdown. He said deliveries to vulnerable people would be stepped up again and more financial support funnelled to community groups helping people at risk.

“There’s nothing more important than defeating the virus,” he said. “That has to be our main aim. We have to protect loved ones and ourselves. Nobody is safe.”

There were some doubters. Stan Henderson, a lorry driver, said he thought the tier system should have been persevered with. “We were doing OK in the west country,” he said.

But Exeter has had its problems. Just before Christmas the Royal Devon & Exeter NHS foundation trust went to Opel 4 status – the highest alert level – due to high levels of inpatients with Covid and a large number of staff absences. There are about 30 patients in its Nightingale hospital on the edge of the city.

David Strain, a senior clinical lecturer at the University of Exeter Medical School and the co-chair of the British Medical Association’s medical academic staff committee, backed tighter restrictions and warned there would be no quick return to normality.

“It is important to highlight that this vaccination programme will not allow the return to normal life in February, as the majority of adults on which the economy depends are not in the four priority groups. In four to six weeks’ time when the lockdown is reviewed, there is no guarantee that there will be a nationwide lifting of restrictions.”

Almost 250 miles north of Exeter in Longsight, Manchester, the mood was weary. Apart from three weeks in July, Greater Manchester has been in some sort of lockdown since March last year.

Eliot Riley felt the latest lockdown was “too little too late”. He was hoping to start a teaching job this week at a primary school assisting special educational needs pupils, but after the government’s announcement of tougher restrictions, the school said they did not need him.

“I feel like I can’t plan for anything now. I can’t save, and I can’t look forward to anything. Me and my girlfriend had the intention to buy a flat, but that doesn’t seem possible at all,” he said.

“We are both in our early 20s, and I feel the pandemic is robbing us of our life opportunities. This should be the most freeing time for us, instead I just feel very restricted.”

Saki Hussain, who works at Longsight market, remained optimistic. “There is a lot of difficulty, especially with our children now staying at home. But I hope one day, with God’s help, we will win against this disease.”

Jack Weaver, who owns a trophy and engraving shop, said: “You can’t blame Boris. He hasn’t done a good job as far as I am concerned, but I don’t think any of the leaders have. This virus is new and nobody knows how to deal with it. I’m just hoping these vaccines will work and they get them out as soon as possible.”

One law for the rich and pious ………..

Jacob Rees-Mogg slammed for crossing coronavirus tiers to attend church

(extracts see link for full article)

Adam Aspinall 

Tory minister Jacob Rees-Mogg has been slammed for crossing coronavirus tiers – to attend a Latin mass.

The controversial Leader of the Commons was spotted ignoring his own Government’s guidance not to travel between tiers on Sunday.

He was seen attending St Mary’s catholic church in Glastonbury, Somerset, which is in Tier 4 and fifteen miles from his posh manor house home in West Harptree, which is in Tier 3.

While people are allowed to attend church in Tier 4 areas the Government’s own guidance is that people should not travel from one tier to another and keep social contact to a minimum.

Writer Liz Williams, 55, from Glastonbury was told Jacob Rees-Mogg visited town to attend the Latin mass conducted on Sunday.

She told The Mirror: “A number of people are very cross about this, while not as egregious as what Dominic Cummings did, he is still crossing from tier 3 to tier 4 just to go to mass, which we are told not to do.

“I think the anger in town is the fact that not only is this not essential, even though he may argue differently as a Christian, but that he is actually a member of the Government that is setting this policy.

“It just seems yet again like there is one rule for us and one rule for the rest of them.

“Look I am not a Christian, I am not a Tory, I am just a normal upstanding member of the community who is fed up of this hypocritical approach from the people that are setting these rules.”…….

……….A spokesman for Jacob Rees-Mogg told The Mirror: “The Leader of the House regularly attends the only old rite mass available in the Clifton diocese which meets his religious obligations.”

More on new school and housing development in Ottery rejected by district councillors

This account adds a bit more to Owl’s post yesterday:

Philippa Davies 

The site of the proposed housing and school at Thorne Farm

The site of the proposed housing and school at Thorne Farm

A proposed school and housing development in Ottery St Mary, on land that residents had voted to safeguard from housing, has been rejected by East Devon district councillors.

The application by Devon County Council was for a new school to replace Tipton St John Primary, which would be paid for through the sale of land to developers who would build 150 new homes, on a site at Thorne Farm.

The school’s buildings are dilapidated and vulnerable to flooding, and many councillors strongly supported the need for it to relocate.

But the accompanying new homes went completely against the policies laid out in the local Neighbourhood Plan, which specifically protects that site from housing.

During the meeting this afternoon (Wednesday, January 6), Tipton St John’s head teacher spoke out about the urgent need for better and safer buildings for the children, saying the school is ‘living on a wing and a prayer’ in terms of the ongoing flood risk.

But councillors, while expressing sympathy for his position, said the issue in question was not the urgency of need for a new school, but whether the development as a whole was acceptable within the current planning policy.

Cllr Philip Skinner summed up the feelings of many others when he said this was ‘a very, very difficult application.

He said the school is in ‘dire need of relocation’, but on the other hand, Ottery St Mary is being ‘swamped with housing’ and he was ‘not prepared to drive a coach and horses through planning policy’ in order to get the school in.

He said while he had very much wanted to support the application, ‘but I cannot put our policies to one side to fit this in’.

A majority of 11 councillors voted to refuse the application, with two in favour of supporting it, and two abstentions.

‘Doing nothing is not an option’: £15m plan to restore Otter Estuary flood plains at Budleigh Salterton approved

More detail on yesterday’s historic decision by EDDC planning committee, first from East Devon News, then extracts from the Pebblebed Trust Team describing the national significance of the project. 

Multi-million pound plans to restore the Otter Estuary at Budleigh Salterton to natural and historic flood plains have been unanimously approved. 

Daniel Clark 

East Devon District Council’s (EDDC) Planning Committee today voted in favour of the Lower Otter Restoration Project bid.

The £15million scheme will create 55 hectares of mudflats, saltmarsh and other valuable estuarine habitats, writes Local Democracy Reporter Daniel Clark.

The initiative, led by landowner Clinton Devon Estates and the Environment Agency, will see the Big Marsh and Little Marsh floodplains restored.

Breaches will also be created in the Little Bank, Big Bank and the River Otter Embankment to allow water to flow through.

The aim is to avoid the significant risk that a major flood or extreme tidal event could lead to catastrophic failure of the existing defences.

Mike Williams, from the Environment Agency, told councillors that its vision is for a nation ready for and resilient to coastal change – ‘today, tomorrow and the year 2100’.

He added that the Lower Otter Restoration Project plays a part in delivering this for East Devon.

Mr Williams said: “It is simply a matter of time before the embankments fail and lead to substantial flooding.

“This will cause great change, but this should be seen as an opportunity to be granted now while it remains possible.”

Dr Sam Bridgewater, head of wildlife and conservation at Clinton Devon Estates added: “We must adapt to climate change.

“There are two options; a managed transition, or the second which is unmanaged with none of the protections in place.

“We aim to adapt the Lower Otter Valley to the current and future challenges climate change will bring.

“This is among the biggest changes that East Devon has seen but the natural environment will be improved by the scheme.

“It is a bold initiative but the times demand it and we must confront climate challenges.”

Sam Scriven, head of conservation for the Jurassic Coast Trust, said: “It is rare for a major project like this to improve rather than harm the world heritage site.”

Local resident David Daniel added that although the scenery from his childhood would change dramatically, a man-made landscape will be lost but another one will be gained.

He added: “It is far better to pre-empt any event that manage change in a controlled way. The status quo is not sustainable.”

Budleigh Salterton ward members Councillors Alan Dent and Tom Wright both called for the scheme to be approved.

Cllr Dent said: “The concept of breaching the river embankment to restore an historic flood plain is imaginative, far-sighted, and generally welcome.

“I support this with certain caveats as assurance must be given that residents’ properties will be safe and secure in the future.

“This is a welcome long-term project that manages the risk of rising sea levels and the consequence of unmanaged flooding.”

Cllr Wright added: “Restoring the area and the environment before man intervened to create the artificial environment we have and will mitigate the damage.

“The project will deliver a significant area of quality tidal saltmarsh.”

The Lower Otter Estuary in Budleigh Salterton. Image: PACCo

The Lower Otter Estuary in Budleigh Salterton. Image: PACCo

Cllr Geoff Jung, EDDC portfolio holder for coast, country and environment, asked for the plans to be given the go-ahead and said: “You don’t mess with nature and in the end, nature wins.

“Nature will eventually take the area back, so if we allow nature to do its thing, we will lose the agricultural land, the footpaths, and allow salt water ingress into the old waste tip.

“This can springboard East Devon into being a leader in nature-based solutions to reduce flood and coastal erosion risk.”

Concerns were raised by residents about the risk of flooding.

Margaret Yerrell said the scheme will have unpredictable and irreversible changes.

Ian Smith added that it will bring the sea from more than 2km away to the edge of homes and was a ‘dangerous and unnecessarily overextended project’.

David Butler said that rushing to make a decision would lead to the risk of adverse outcomes.

But proposing approval, committee member Cllr Philip Skinner said: “This is such an important issue and we need to get this right.

“Usually we put up flood defences after we have had the flood, this is before it.”

Cllr David Key added: “This will rectify the issues of flooding for the area, and, if we do nothing, it will get worse.”

Cllr Olly Davey  said that, while the project will involve a massive change to the Otter Valley and be ‘frightening’ to some people, on the whole it will improve the existing situation.

He added: “I do understand the concerns and hope their fears are not founded, but I am satisfied as a can be that it is not going to lead to any increase in the risks to the residents.

“I will be sorry to lose some of the habitat that we have there along the Otter Valley, but quite looking forward to seeing how it will evolve, as doing nothing is not an option.”

South Farm Road will also be realigned and raised, a new road bridge and footbridge bridge provided, and a small car park would be created at its western end.

Existing footpaths will be realigned and a landfill site capped and planted with grassland and woodland.

A spit to the south will be allowed to evolve naturally, necessitating the removal of the southern part of the loop path known as Donkeys Turn.

Budleigh Salterton Cricket Club has already secured permission to relocate to a site off East Budleigh Road.

Councillors agreed with the recommendation of planning officers to give the scheme the green light.

This is subject to appropriately-worded conditions relating to archaeology, materials of a footbridge, access details and public rights of way, contamination, a construction management plan, groundwater levels, adequate car parking, the provision of a footpath, arboricultural and tree protection details.

Lower Otter Restoration Project approved by councillors! 

Text of e-mail from the Pebblebed Trust Team:

We are delighted to let you know that the landscape-scale project to address the impact of climate change and safeguard a much-loved amenity by returning the Otter estuary and the adjacent flood plain to a more natural condition, has been given unanimous approval by East Devon District Council planning committee today.

The £15 million Lower Otter Restoration Project will reconnect the Otter Estuary with its original floodplain for the first time since 1812. The managed realignment, proposed by landowner Clinton Devon Estates and the Environment Agency, is designed to avoid a catastrophic breach of embankments which were built over 200 years ago. 

In time, new saltmarsh and mudflats will restore a rare wetland habitat for many threatened and endangered species. This initiative supports the Government’s 25 year Environment Plan and the objectives set out by the Committee for Climate Change and the Pebblebed Team are excited to be part of such a significant project and look forward to managing a larger wetland reserve with many benefits for wildlife and people.

For the full story please read on our website at:…/ and for more information on the project, please visit the LORP website:

And from the Pebblebed website:

John Varley, Estates Director of Clinton Devon Estates, said: “This approval paves the way for a major landscape-scale project which has come about because of an exemplary public-private partnership which will benefit people, the environment and wildlife.

“It demonstrates that rural estates can play a key role in addressing the climate crisis, leading the way in respect of a number of national agendas including nature recovery, creating new habitats and delivering a net gain in biodiversity, on a landscape scale.

“As the eyes of the world will be on Britain as hosts the UN Climate Change Conference COP 26 in November, this project shows we are prepared to act now to address the challenges we all face.”

Dr Sam Bridgewater, Head of Wildlife and Conservation at Clinton Devon Estates, said: “The Estate is proud to be associated with this project. It is recognised nationally and internationally that coastal communities must adapt as sea levels rise and storm events become more frequent.

“It is our belief that the Lower Otter Restoration Project will provide a more sustainable and certain future for the threatened Otter valley. It will also deliver very significant benefits to people and wildlife in the long term.

“The granting of planning approval is a major step forward in helping us deliver this vision.  We have worked very closely with a wide range of stakeholders who have helped us reach this milestone and we are grateful for their input over the years.”

Mark Rice, Environment Manager for the Environment Agency, said: “Climate change is affecting the way we manage our coasts and estuaries and we must adapt to that change. The Lower Otter Restoration Project is an example of how we can do that. We aim to deliver long term benefits for people and wildlife by working in partnership and through more sustainable management of the Otter Estuary.”