Scotland consults on controversial ‘named person’ proposals

Under new legislation, every child in Scotland will have a 'named person' appointed as a guardian of their wellbeing

scottish parliament
Scottish parliament Photo: Mags Ednie/ flickr

The Scottish government has launched a consultation on its controversial “named person” proposals for children’s services.

The “named person” would be a professional who would become the single point of contact for all family members and professionals involved in a child’s life.

Scottish Association of Social Workers manager, Trisha Hall said the organisation had concerns the named person role was a step too far.

‘Parental rights’

“The intention is very honourable but we do have concerns in terms of how this fits in with parental rights and responsibilities.

“Parents should be able to be the ‘named person’ for their child, and if they aren’t able to do that, there are systems already in place to make sure another person is doing that, that is, the local authority.”

She added plans will see each “named person” having responsibility for hundreds of children, meaning they couldn’t possibly keep tabs on them all.

‘Honourable intentions’

However, Hall said she was confident the  government would listen to concerns and work closely with major stakeholders.

“We have a pretty strong children and families’ team in Scottish government and, unlike perhaps in England, when they say consultation, they mean it.”

The plans to appoint a named guardian to every child in Scotland were proposed in the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act passed last February.

A petition for judicial review of the role lodged by campaign group No to Named Persons was thrown out last month.

The named person is intended to have an overview of the child’s wellbeing and can be contacted for help and support on issues from bullying to sleeping problems, as well as more serious safeguarding concerns.

‘Defining wellbeing’

As part of the consultation, the government intends for the first time to define what they mean by “wellbeing”.

Acting Minister for Children Fiona McLeod said: “The named person service was developed with extensive input and support from experts. It’s being introduced across the country after parents and children asked for it, as a single point of contact, building on the traditional supportive role of teachers, doctors, nurses and health visitors.

“We know that mothers, fathers and carers are, with few exceptions, the best people to raise their children. These new provisions support families, providing improved access to services while maintaining parental rights and responsibilities.”

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