Children’s Commissioners from Scotland, England, Northern Ireland and Wales have published a report to the United Nations UN Committee on the Rights of the Child’s under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) outlining the UK Government’s failings in relation to children’s rights in the UK, most notably with the welfare reform and austerity agendas, which have failed to take the views of children into account and which have failed to protect the most disadvantaged and vulnerable children from child poverty, contravening their rights under Articles 26* and 27* of the UNCRC.
The Commissioner’s raise concerns about the systematic reductions in services that provide legal redress in the areas of prison law; immigration’ private family law; and education, pointing out that these deny children access to remedies where their rights have been breached.
The report makes a number of recommendations to improve the Government’s record on children’s rights including children’s rights impact analysis on policy developments, legislative decisions and economic and budgetary decision-making. There are also recommendations on the protection of children’s rights in the juvenile justice system, immigration and asylum cases and the education system.
Eliminating age discrimination, strengthening the rights of looked after children and care leavers, and adequate funding for child and adolescent mental health services are also recommended by the Commissioners.
Scotland’s Children’s Commissioner, Tam Baillie, has called the UK Government a “disgrace” for choosing to push more children into poverty with its welfare cuts and austerity in general. He points out that the UK is one of the richest countries in the world and that it is a political choice of the Government to make cuts to family incomes when they are already struggling, pointing to the £12bn of welfare cuts expected to be announced in next week’s emergency budget.
The UNCRC has now been incorporated into Scots law, through the passing into legislation of the Children and Young People’s (Scotland) Act 2014, however, while the UK Government has ratified it and removed previous reservations, it has not been incorporated into UK law.