Chancellor's plans fail to tackle harm to children, says The Children's Society

By agency reporter
July 9, 2020

Responding to the Chancellor's summer statement, Mark Russell, Chief Executive at The Children’s Society said: “We recognise the unprecedented times we are in, and we warmly welcome the Chancellor’s plans to support young people into work. We need to see the detail and it’s important that they include additional support for vulnerable groups like care leavers.

“However, it was deeply disappointing to see so little in the Chancellor’s plans to address the deep scars lockdown and school closures have inflicted on children’s happiness and mental health.

“This crisis has left many children at greater risk, with abuse and sexual and criminal exploitation more likely to be hidden from view, while others have struggled with isolation and been left at greater risk of the ravages of poverty with some parents sadly losing work. Jobs and protecting the economy are of course important, but so is protecting our children and helping them to flourish and shockingly, two-thirds of children living in poverty now have at least one parent in work. The measures announced today will do nothing to address this.

“What was needed was a comprehensive package to help children and young people. That means restoring vital funding to enable struggling councils to better help and protect vulnerable children, more open-access mental health support in the community and more help for families struggling financially. Without urgent action to protect children, help them through these tough times and support them to re-engage in education, their life chances could be seriously damaged. This will cause enormous harm not only to them, but also our economy in the long-run.”

Among the measures The Children’s Society is calling for are:

Child poverty

  • No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF): Suspension of this condition affecting the ability of migrant families in the UK to access benefits like Universal Credit during the Covid crisis. Many of those subject to NRPF are working in frontline roles during the CV-19 crisis – as NHS cleaners, in social care or food preparation
  • Benefits: An extra £10 a week for child benefit, an end to the five-week wait for Universal Credit, the two-child limit and the benefit cap.
  • Local Welfare Assistance: More long-term funding for Local Welfare Assistance Schemes run by councils which have suffered big cuts over the last decade. These schemes offer support for struggling families which can include cash grants and vouchers.

Children at risk

  • More funding for struggling council children’s services departments: Even before the pandemic, council children’s services departments were struggling to cope with funding available having fallen by £2.2 billion over the last decade - meaning they had to cut back on early help services to focus resources on statutory help for those children already at crisis point. Many councils were having to use their reserves to cope but these have been depleted by emergency use due to the pandemic. There is an urgent need for the Government to give children’s social care the money it needs to address the funding shortfall and ensure councils can support all children and families who need help.

Children’s mental health and well-being

  • More community support: With high thresholds for accessing Children and Young People’s Mental Health Services (CAMHS), there is a need for more open-access mental health support in the community which can offer early help to children and young people struggling with their emotional health and well-being.
  • Measurement of children and young people’s well-being: It is difficult to know what more help children need if we don’t know how they are feeling. We are urging the Government to commit to national measurement of children and young people’s well-being – as it already does for older young people aged over 16 and adults.

* The Children's Society https://www.childrenssociety.org.uk/

[Ekk/6]

Although the views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Ekklesia, the article may reflect Ekklesia's values. If you use Ekklesia's news briefings please consider making a donation to sponsor Ekklesia's work here.