Category: Children and Social Work Bill

MPs urged to defend children’s social care rights

Members of Parliament will consider the Children and Social Work Bill for the first time on Monday December 5th.

Controversial exemption clauses, which would have allowed individual councils to be excused from their children’s social care statutory duties, were deleted by Peers last month.

Article 39 is one of 43 organisations who oppose the exemption clauses. We have been lobbying on the Bill since May, trying our best to defend the rights of vulnerable children and care leavers.

We believe all children and young people should have equal legal protection. Decisions must be based on the child’s needs, circumstances and wishes and feelings – not where they happen to live.

Read our briefing for MPs here.

A fantastic vote for children’s rights

Peers have voted to remove Clause 29 from the Children and Social Work Bill. The Minister, Lord Nash, also indicated the Government would take out Clause 32.

Article 39 has been campaigning since the Bill was introduced in May to have these exemption clauses removed.

Clause 29 allows local councils to ask the Secretary of State to be excused from any of their legal duties in children’s social care legislation, dating back to 1933.

245 Peers voted in support of Lord Ramsbotham’s amendment to delete the clause from the Bill, and 213 backed the Government.

Clause 32 empowers the Secretary of State to impose legal opt outs on struggling councils, without any local consultation or agreement.

At the end of September, Article 39 was one of the founders of the Together for Children campaign, which seeks the removal of the exempton clauses. The campaign now has 43 organisations as members, and around 150 individual experts have signed up. Our 38 degrees public petition was close to 105,000 signatures at the time of the Lords vote.

We are absolutely delighted that the vital rights of children and care leavers have been defended. Our Director, Carolyne Willow, said:

“Today’s vote is an incredibly strong affirmation of children’s rights and the unique role Parliament has in creating, revising and strengthening children’s law.

“The fundamental flaw with Clause 29 was that it allowed highly vulnerable children to have different legal protections on the arbitrary basis of where they happen to live. Peers have determined this to be unacceptable.

“We hope the Government will now listen and respond to the huge opposition its plans have provoked. The very worst response to this defeat would be for Ministers to simply reinsert the Clause when the Bill enters the Commons.”

Peers urged to defend the rights of vulnerable children

Article 39 has delivered its final briefing to Peers, for this stage of debates on the Children and Social Work Bill.

We have asked Peers to support amendments tabled by Lord Ramsbotham, Lord Watson, Lord Warner and Lord Low, which would remove Clauses 29-33 from the Bill. The amendments will be voted on tomorrow afternoon (Tuesday, 8 November).

Clauses 29-33 introduce a fast-track process for the removal of council duties to vulnerable children and care leavers. Article 39 is one of 43 organisations publicly opposing these legal opt outs. Our Director, Carolyne Willow, says:

“Not a shred of evidence has been offered by the Government to make the case for this radical legislation. We have not been able to find any similar legal opt outs in children’s social care systems in other European countries. Legal obligations to children in dire need of care, protection and support have built up over 80 years. They are far too precious to be sacrificed to this ill-thought out and dangerous experiment.”

Read our briefing here.
Read ‘The truth about plans to allow councils to opt out of child protection laws’, published today (different site).

Peers vow to vote against social care exemptions

Amendments have been tabled by Lord Ramsbotham, Lord Watson and Lord Warner to remove Clauses 29-33 from the Children and Social Work Bill.

These Clauses allow individual councils to be excused from their legal duties towards vulnerable children and care leavers. Every children’s social care Act of Parliament since 1933 is affected.

The vote is expected to take place next week (beginning 18 October).

Article 39 is a founder member of Together for Children, which is a network of 32 organisations and 140+ individual experts who oppose the exemption clauses.

Mounting public concern over this part of the Children and Social Work Bill has led us to join forces with 38 Degrees.

Please sign and promote our 38 Degrees petition.

Defending children’s social care rights

Article 39 is one of 31 organisations opposing the exemption clauses in the Children and Social Work Bill, which will allow the removal of council’s statutory duties towards vulnerable children and care leavers area-by-area.

More than 140 individual experts, including many parents and carers of disabled children, are also calling for the exemption clauses to be removed from the Bill.

The Bill reaches Report Stage in the House of Lords on 18 October. We are working hard to persuade Peers to join together to defend children’s social care rights.

Read our briefing here.

Visit the Together for Children site for more information about the campaign.