Government urged to 'child-proof' policy and spending decisions

By Lauren Higgs

| 25 June 2012

Local and national government must "child-proof" policies and budgetary decisions, to protect young people from suffering as a result of the recession and public sector cuts, a report to MPs has warned.

Children's charities face cuts of almost half a billion pounds over the next four years. Image: Arlen Connelly

The Children and Recession report, by the All Party Parliamentary Group for Children (APPGC), argues that government must do more to make sure that early intervention initiatives are well funded, widely promoted and embedded in practice, in order to minimise the impact of the economic downturn on children.

It also calls on government to take a more active role in encouraging charities to form partnerships, and urges politicians to strengthen strategies for reducing child poverty.

The report is based on ten inquiry sessions that heard evidence from politicians, civil servants, academics and children’s charity professionals.

Among those to give evidence to the inquiry was Anthony Douglas, chief executive of the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass).

He warned that “recession-linked factors” are now showing up in the family courts, because parents are under financial pressure are struggling to cope and finding it difficult to access support.

Meanwhile, Enver Solomon, policy director at The Children’s Society, told the inquiry that children and young people’s voices are too often overlooked in considering effects of the recession.

“Children and young people’s perspectives need to feed into government's approaches to measuring poverty through the child poverty strategy and the child poverty legislation,” he said.

Dr Hilary Emery, chief executive at the National Children’s Bureau, which is responsible for the administration the APPGC, said charities working with children and young people face cuts of almost half a billion pounds over the next four years.

“Added to cuts to family, children and youth services, freezing of welfare benefits, increases in university fees, scrapping of EMA and added pressures on family life with the rising cost of food, fuel and childcare, this paints a pretty bleak picture for our future generations,” she said.

“While children’s charities themselves must be at the forefront of creating solutions, there is still a role for national government to put its weight behind the development of new partnerships and new ways of working.”

Baroness Massey of Darwen, chair of the APPGC, added: “The children’s sector is most effective when collaboration between agencies is encouraged.”

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