Austerity pressures are threatening children’s human rights, finds report

Children's Rights Alliance warns England is struggling to meet the standards set by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child

Budget cuts are compromising the human rights of children in England, a report from the Children Rights Alliance for England has warned.

The ‘State of Children’s Rights in England’, published to coincide with the 25th anniversary of the UN convention on the Rights of the Child, found children are not being adequately protected from harm, while their rights are not central to decision-making in courts.

“The professionals who are supposed to keep children safe have faced a huge increase in their workload, while investment in their work has reduced,” the report stated.

The Children’s Rights Alliance for England (CRAE) also criticised the government’s refusal to place an early intervention duty on councils – a key recommendation from the Munro’s review of child protection – and warned that protected budgets are seeing a reduction in real terms, while the numbers of children requiring services continue to rise.

These issues show England is struggling to meet the standards of the UN Convention, the organisation warned. CRAE director Paola Uccellari said: “You cannot escape the conclusion that austerity and cuts to vital services are threatening children’s human rights.”

Uccellari added: “Cutting these services is short-sighted, it will have a long term impact on children and society.”

Particular articles of the convention called into question included hearing the voice of the child in decisions that affect them; that the state will help parents and legal guardians in the performance of their duties; that children are being protected from all forms of violence.

The report did highlight some improvements in meeting the rights of children, however. It drew attention to new measures designed to tackle female genital mutilation, which saw its first prosecutions announced this year.

Action for Children chief executive Sir Tony Hawkhead said the findings are a “sad indictment” of the current circumstances we live in. “The plight of our children appears to be worsening,” Hawkhead said.

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