Councils to be allowed to opt out of child protection laws |

"A child could find themselves with a very different entitlement to care and support to their friend in a neighbouring town."

“A child could find themselves with a very different entitlement to care and support to their friend in a neighbouring town.”

When should an obligation not be obligatory? If the government has its way, it’ll be whenever it relates to 80 years of essential child protections enshrined in UK law.

The Children and Social Work Bill has been working its way through the House of Lords with little fanfare. But among its proposals is a deeply worrying measure that not only shows a breath-taking contempt for democracy and the rule of law, but which could put vulnerable children across the country at serious risk of neglect and abuse.

Under the proposals, councils will be able to opt out of vital duties under almost every single law covering children’s social care since 1933. This will affect more than eight decades of legislation, some of which was created in response to the most tragic cases of state failure like that of Victoria Climbié and Baby P.

Individual local authorities would be able to ask the education minister to exempt them from having to comply with any aspect of children social care law “to test different ways of working with a view to achieving better outcomes… or achieving the same outcomes more efficiently”. An exemption would be granted for up to three years – and could then be extended for another three.

This means protection could soon vary wildly across the country, creating a postcode lottery in which a child could find themselves with a very different entitlement to care and support to their friend in a neighbouring town.

The ramifications and moral dubiousness of leaving vulnerable young people, care leavers and disabled children without vital legal protections in the name of achieving “outcomes more efficiently” are obvious, in particular given the precarious financial situations of many local authorities.

Source: Councils to be allowed to opt out of child protection laws


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16 thoughts on “Councils to be allowed to opt out of child protection laws |

  1. joanna

    It was already eroded! When I was 4 in 1973, the Social Services (the SS) was forced by the NSPCC to take me in. the SS didn’t want to take me because I was too damaged (someone had bashed my feet with a hammer) I couldn’t walk but I worked hard and I did walk, but the SS used me as a cash cow anyway and placed me in a school for behavioural problems (I didn’t have any! I was 10 yrs, 3 yrs later I was placed back in mainstream school, which is unheard of, but it was too late for me, I was robbed of 3yrs education and I couldn’t get a job because of the school I was in. I now I have to get into debt to gain an education now.

    The SS already wreaks lives, and turns away children who are going to cost them money, and if they are forced to take them in, they have many ways to badly abuse an already abused child!!! Nothing changes in that respect!!!

  2. jeffrey davies

    words fail me suffer little children to come unto me christians nah just devils who vote for this

  3. Ultraviolet

    I have some sympathy with what this law is trying to do. In the past, I was involved in some child protection work. 80 years of statute law means systems become sclerotic. Many people may have good ideas as to how to improve them and deliver better outcomes for vulnerable children, and there is definitely a case for allowing a “safe space” for some of these ideas to be tested out.

    And I think you are mis-stating it by saying the law allows councils to opt out of existing laws, as if that means they would not have to provide any child protection at all. It expressly requires that they meet the same child protection aims, even if they use different methods to get there.

    But I also agree with your scepticism as to how this would work in practice, particularly where a Tory local authority is getting an exemption from a Tory Secretary of State.

    I would not want to see this idea abandoned, but I would want to see limits on the circumstances in which authority can be granted, and very strict limits on the circumstances in which it could be renewed. There must be no watering down of the rights of the child, of parents or of wider family. I would want to see a clear mechanism for review by the Courts of any exemption granted, and a power for the Courts to cancel the authority post hoc if the local authority is failing to maintain the required outcomes. There must be no right to reduce payments to foster parents and others in loco parentis. There must be full independent evaluation reports of every such scheme, and there should be a very strict limit on the number of local authorities that can have such an exemption at any one time.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Just one point of clarification: I’m not mis-stating anything. this piece is reblogged from another site, as is very clearly shown.

      1. Ultraviolet

        Apologies for that. And thanks for posting, it is an important issue that is flying under the radar at the moment, and needs proper discussion.

      2. Mike Sivier Post author

        No worries. I didn’t have time to write a full piece but I wanted to get it out to the reading public.

      3. Alan John Taylor

        All involved in the legislation process should themselves be placed underscrutiny and screened for their child abuse tendences. THis is not a joke.. Much abuse as come from those responsible for the care and welfare of children.. Such is uman nature unfortunately Check the facts.A.J..T.

    2. Sven Wraight

      Imagine someone trying to pass a law saying MPs’ salaries and expenses could be withdrawn “experimentally” to try and get better results. The MPs would reject the idea or fall over themselves to put safeguards in place without our having to argue for basic human decency for them. This is why their plan is purely an excuse to abuse kids and/or save money dressed up as Conservatives’ alleged economic practicality.

  4. Neilth

    As an ex social worker I can assure you that there are reasons statutory child protection is statutory. It is hugely expensive and there is never enough resources for all so those on the borderline of the various categories are often not provided for. This financial pressure and under resourcement now means that some of our most vulnerable children and young people are left at risk due to financial expedience. The fourteen year old who refuses to attend school despite all efforts at persuasion, bribery, coercion etc and is committing petty offences or at personal risk through their associates may be seen as in need of a residential provision at huge cost. Most Local authorities have closed much of their residential provision and now have to purchase from private providers who can either be charities or profit driven. The care staff in many of these establishments are of course poorly paid and under trained. Though for many years that was true even when the local authorities ran them directly. One of the reasons for selling them off was increased staffing costs due to the need for better qualified care staff.

    There are never enough foster carers and of course risks are (and often should be) taken to allow the children their rights. However the U.K. Is bound by the UN charter on the Rights of the Child though I understand that this is one of the human rights legislations that they wish to repeal.

  5. Brian

    The nasty party can not be trusted to make toast without burning it and claiming carbon credits.

  6. Readerbythesea

    Children already get a bad deal from Social Services but this proposal sounds like some kind of experiment to me which isn’t going to protect our most vulnerable.

  7. Dez

    To achieve better outcomes?? They are already a total feckin disgrace to any democracy with the draconian secret childrens Courts run by Social Services in full cahoots with all the public services, allleged child abuses in their supposed care, custody and control, allowing children in their care to fall into the hands of pimps/paeds to be used and abused, Social Services total fatal failings despite still NOT learNing from their past mistakes etc etc etc……… This feels like a failed system trying to play a “get out of jail” card or worse just walking away from their long established responsibilities because they are a lost cause and no it. Worse our politicians (so called representatives of the population laughingly known as democracy) are also just as useless and totally out of touch with real life to have let this Bill even get as far as it has ….. unless of course it is part of the Elites master plan to change the shape of the UK. Where is the outcry and backlash to this devious plan? Where are the other caring caretakers of religion, children charities etc etc? Do MPs not read or challenge anything that the Civil Service creates in their tiny minds to get themselves out of doing anything for their salaries and generous pensions. Hopefully once again there might be some of Lords who actually read these Bills and can see immediately the injustice and downside of this authoritarian escape clause as it sure seems the lazy sods in the Commons agree to anything put before them until it is to late or the Lords sort out the worse issues for them. This is a huge sad day for democracy and Social responsibility that this Bill was even introduced and whilst the current system is certainly in the main a total crock of cack allowing authorities to just turn their weak backs on its responsibilites is total wrong ….. or is yet another Tory cost saving measure toying with more vulnerable lives. God help us.

  8. Barry Davies

    Well as we all know, in Governmental English language, efficiency savings means cuts in the budget, that have to be addressed, with true efficiency not having any part of the outcome.

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