MPs and peers: Social work practices must face human rights check

Parliament’s joint committee on human rights has said new social work practices for looked-after children should be explicitly bound by human rights legislation.

In a report yesterday, it called for an amendment to the Children and Young Persons Bill, which will enable practices to be piloted, to ensure their liability under the Human Rights Act 1998.

The call came as the bill received its third reading in the House of Lords. It will now pass to the House of Commons.

Though the government had argued that practices, which will provide field social work services to looked-after children under contract from local authorities, would be bound by the Human Rights Act, the committee disagreed.

It said there was little fundamental difference between the position of independent sector care homes operating under contract from councils and social work practices. Yet, the courts had repeatedly deemed such care homes to be outside the terms of the Human Rights Act, which regulates so-called “public functions”.

The committee said an amendment would ensure that “service users, service providers, local authorities and courts would be left in no doubt about the application of the Human Rights Act and the availability of a direct remedy under the Act”.

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