- Each day, CYP Now will summarise the key issues affecting the children and families sector as it tackles the effects of the pandemic. The daily update signposts children’s services practitioners and leaders to the latest developments, expert views, advice and resources.
Pandemic blamed for rise in unhappiness
Nearly one in five children aged 10-17 in the UK – the equivalent of 1.1m – have reported being unhappy with their lives as a whole during the coronavirus lockdown, according to a survey by The Children’s Society.
The charity’s annual survey of children’s wellbeing was completed by just over 2,000 young people and their parents between April and June.
It found 18 per cent of children were dissatisfied with their lives overall. That is a marked increase in a figure which has ranged from 10 per cent to 13 per cent over the last five years.
The Children’s Society says the coronavirus crisis and lockdown is likely to explain the worrying surge. Its report, Life On Hold, also found that half of parents (50%) expected coronavirus to harm their children’s happiness over the coming year.
Lifting of lockdown poses exploitation risk
The Local Government Association fears that the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions could lead to more exploitation of children as businesses reopen, as some may lack money to pay staff wages and others take advantage of people who have been made more vulnerable by the pandemic.
It says the closure of other businesses, such as nail bars, has left trafficking victims further away from the public eye and harder to identify and rescue.
Latest statistics show the number of council referrals of suspected child victims of modern slavery in England to the National Referral Mechanism - the UK’s framework for referring and supporting victims - has risen from 127 in 2014 to 1,971 in 2019, a staggering increase of 1,452 per cent.
Children accounted for 91 per cent of all referrals (child and adults) made by councils in England in 2019.
Government apprenticeship support criticised
The government made a “serious error” in deciding that its Covid provider relief scheme should not cover the large majority of apprenticeship provision, Jane Hickie managing director Association of Employment and Learning Providers has said.
Hickie was commenting after official figures showed a big drop in apprenticeship starts and advertised vacancies in May.
“This is traditionally a very busy time of year for apprentice recruitment of school leavers but compared with a year ago starts are down by over three-quarters for entry level apprenticeships and for 16 to 18 year olds,” Hickie said.
“The government’s Plan for Jobs will be an acid test for getting the apprenticeship programme back on its feet. The key question is whether the new employer incentives will be large enough to really make a difference.”
Committee chair ‘disappointed’ by lack of response to inquiry
Chair of the Commons’ petitions committee, Catherine McKinnell MP, has criticised the government for failing to meet the committee’s request to respond urgently to its report on the impact of Covid-19 on maternity and parental leave.
The government has stated that a response to the report would not be possible before MPs went on their summer recess on 22 July, due to the need for consideration of recommendations and discussions between departments.
In its report, published this month, the committee found that the government needed to urgently review how new parents are supported during the crisis, after thousands of petitioners raised concerns about the dangerous impact the pandemic is having on their children’s development and their own mental health.
McKinnell said: "I am extremely disappointed the government hasn’t recognised the urgency of this issue and responded to our report on the impact of Covid-19 on maternity and parental leave before the summer recess. This is particularly so given the Prime Minister’s recent personal commitment to review our report.”