Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Children and Social Work Bill - completing at the House of Lords in 8 days... on it's way to making law.

Dear Cross Parties, Professional Organizations, Bodies, Individuals and Press,

As former chair of the National Association of Young People In Care NAYPIC I write to you all in regards to the Children and Social Work Bill 2016.

In 1987 when I became a Management Committee member of London NAYPIC one of the first things I was tasked with was to feedback on the green paper of what then became known as the 1989 Children Act, which I saw to completion.

Although I was just 17 years old I had completed the Community Care Course at Hammersmith and Fulham College and was well into completing my first year at Brixton doing the Preliminary Course in Social Care PCSC.

I found that due to my care experience, the green paper although somewhat lengthy, to my mind anyway, was not a difficult task to feedback on. However when I gave it back both NAYPIC and the Children’s Legal Centre with whom NAYPIC shared a building with both were stunned at the level of detail, I had fed back on.

Many of you will now have gathered the why’s and wherefores of what happened to NAYPIC and during my many years of service to the organisation both paid, for 5 yrs as their London Development Officer and not paid as their National Chair of the National Executive Committee for just one year before Government closed NAYPIC and subsequently the rest of my life as the commercial director very much unpaid and having spent hundreds of thousand of pounds of my own money to advocate the deeply held belief in the loud voice of the most vulnerable babies, children and young people in our society, children in care, it is with utter horror to me personally that the 31 pages Bill speeding it’s way to legislation has no place for the voice of those children. This I find is an absolute affront to my life’s work.

So with this I make a proposal and I hope that you all take notice and unilaterally agree that we should no longer silence the most vulnerable in our society and in fact we should embrace the voices of all children in the UK learning, our most heart felt lessons, from those that have experienced, the roughest of deals, those through no fault of their own who are in care, NAYPIC.

I accept the reality that like a speeding train this Bill is on it’s way and many of you may think we have more in common than less when it comes to caring for children but it is rights I am advocating for, rights that will eventually come to children anyway with or without you.

I ask that our Bill be a part of your CSWB statutory Bill but it is for us at last an independent budget by law, for the voice of all children in the UK, 12 million pounds per year, for the 12 million children in the UK, by law.

For children have no financial muscle and no way of lobbying for their too, tin pot ideas or their part in private or CIC shares, no way of real independence, so they need an economy that cannot be taken away from them any more. And we should never ever be afraid of our children’s voices as our lesson for future generations to come. Add in urgently the children's independent voice and budget by law.

The YE-HA (Youth Economy) Bill
1.     The Children’s Act 1989 recognised that the welfare of the child is paramount and set out an overarching system for safeguarding children and the roles different agencies play. It introduces the concept of consulting children and young people based on their age and understanding.
2.     The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989 was ratified by the UK in 1991. It set out the principle for a legal framework to underpin all aspects for the care, development and education of all children. It sets out the first ever right to ‘freedom of expression’ and ‘freedom of association’, for children to meet and form associations.
3.     The Government having considered over 30 public inquiries into child care since the 1970’s should adhere to these recommendations in both the Children Act 1989 and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989 legislations and these recommendations should now be built upon. The current child sexual abuse inquiry will look into the local authorities 'duty of care' a legal term, yet the Children and Social Work Bill proposes to suspend all 'duties' again a legal term for the next 6 years, ironic?
4.     There is no central agency that expresses the child’s view-point on any issue of public importance that concerns children and young people directly. In fact most agencies pay mere lip service to consumer involvement and may just tick boxes to adhere to ‘freedom of expression’ legislation by using token representatives, from think tanks to government working parties. Children and young people do not run most if not all, child consumer organisations. Their governance is made up of senior adults often with establishment links. Many consumer child-care groups are reliant on government or other funding. This cannot allow them any freedom to express themselves.
5.     It is time we act on children’s rights legislation as a matter of urgency. In the face of political resistance to investigating matters of historical abuse we may not ever be able to truly understand the magnitude to which children have suffered in the past. However for us to change the course of history currently, rather than wait on yet another public inquiry, we must be able to see and hear and firmly put the child in the public eye immediately.
6.     Proposal to be voted on in this Bill is that each child & young person 18 and under has a pound each year, in sterling, to be ring-fenced for the twelve million children and young people in the UK from the Treasury. This will provide financial independence as a statutory right enshrining current law in practical terms, to meet and form associations and to have freedom of expression. It may in turn start to inform us the public of the wishes and feelings of the child in the UK preventing child abuse in the future.
Reference; UN Convention on the Rights of a Child 1989, Children Act 1989, Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and 2005, Protection of Children Act 1999, Special Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001, Adoption and Children Act 2002, Every Child Matters: Change for Children 2003, Children Act 2004, Working Together to Safeguard Children 2006, updated 2010, Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006, Childcare Act 2006, Education (Nutritional Standards & Requirements for School Food) Regulations 2007, amendments 2008, The Charter for Children’s Play 2007, updated 2009, The Play Strategy 2008, Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) 2008, amended 2012, Equalities Act 2010.

Useful references.

On it's second reading House of Lords 15th June 2016 

Fifteen Peers expressed concerns about Clause 15 of the Bill, which introduces a fast-track process for removing rights and safeguards which Lord Warner explained "have built up over many years—indeed, over many decades".

Sweeping Powers
'the Secretary of State may by regulation AMEND any part of the Bill for the purposes of cost'