The four UK Children’s Commissioners have called for an urgent reassessment of the impact of government spending cuts on the needs of vulnerable children.
In a joint report to mark the International Day of the Child, they warned of “serious concerns” at the high levels of persistent child poverty across the UK and called for the needs of children to be given priority in national and local budgets in a bid to protect “vital” children’s services.
Speaking on behalf of the four Commissioners, Keith Towler Children’s Commissioner for Wales, said:
“We continue to see some of our society’s most vulnerable being denied a childhood. At the heart of our concerns are the high levels of persistent poverty across the UK.”
“We are deeply concerned that without assessing the impact of the severe cuts we’ve seen at all levels of government, we’re in real danger of pushing more families into poverty,” he added.
The report examines progress made in five areas – participation, children with disabilities, child poverty, children seeking asylum and juvenile justice – against the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The commissioners’ warn that spending cuts are already hitting key children’s services including youth and social services and education.
“The changes being implemented as a result of the Welfare Reform Bill, including the reduction in support for childcare, the impact of the current intention to pay Universal Credit in a single payment with a potential cap on benefit levels and the introduction of conditionality in benefit payments have the potential to drive more vulnerable children, young people and their families into poverty,” the report warns.
“We therefore strongly urge the UK government to reconsider the impact of these reforms. Poverty pervades every aspect of children’s lives. Not only does it diminish childhoods but limits children and young people’s aspirations and restricts their future opportunities.”
Commenting on the report a Department for Education spokeswoman said: “The report from the four Children’s Commissioners is a timely reminder of how much we have done to implement the UNCRC, and where we still need to make progress. We are determined to deliver our obligations towards the UNCRC to make children’s rights a reality across the state.”
“We will continue to work closely with the Children’s Commissioners to ensure that policy and implementation is informed by their ongoing investigations and advice.”
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