Posted: 25 July 2019

Five priorities for our new Prime Minister

On the steps of Downing Street, the Prime Minister set out his vision for uniting Britain and supporting those who have been ‘left behind’. 

We know that in order to truly achieve his ambitions, the Prime Minister will need to be bold in tackling five key challenges:

1. Put children at the heart of policy making

Our annual Good Childhood report provides a state of the nation look at children’s well-being. Last year, we found that children were becoming increasingly unhappy with their lives.

Many different professionals - teachers, GPs, social workers - have snapshots of children’s lives, but this insight is not complied or utilised systematically. This is a missed opportunity.

We want to see the government benefit from insights from children’s lives to ensure that policy better responds to the needs of children.

2. Set out a new vision for children and young people's services

There has been an absence of vision for too long in what we want services provided to children and families in the community to achieve. The majority of these services are provided by local councils that are under immense financial strain.

The current financial situation in local government means that councils are having to increasingly shift money away from preventative services like youth clubs and children’s centres. This is unsustainable with 9 in 10 councils over-spending on children’s services.

The Prime Minister needs to urgently ensure that councils have the resources they need to invest in children.

3. Improve the financial resilience of families

For too many families, financial crisis could be a broken-down boiler away. Millions of families have little or no money saved up for a rainy day and almost 7 in 10 children living in poverty have at least one parent in work.

The incoming government must make sure that councils that are responsible for delivering emergency financial support to people in crisis are properly resourced.

4. Take swift action to disrupt child criminal exploitation

The exploitation of children for criminal gain is, unfortunately, not new. Yet as a society we are struggling to understand the threats facing children and young people. As a result, children are being criminalised for being the victims of this crime.

Our Counting Lives report highlights the haphazard response to child victims of criminal exploitation. The absence of a legal definition of ‘child criminal exploitation’ and the absence of a national strategy needs to be urgently rectified.

5. Make sure all EU children in the care of British local authorities secure settled status

Since the 2016 referendum, we have campaigned to ensure that vulnerable children from EU countries living in Britain do not have to become subject to the UK’s complex and adversarial immigration system. There is a very real risk that children who are EU nationals living in the care of local authorities in England may not secure their right to stay in the UK.

The Prime Minister should feel confident and proud to act in the best interests of vulnerable children by giving them status as a group of children in our care to whom we owe a very special responsibility.

The priorities the Prime Minister referenced outside No10 this afternoon - improving NHS waiting times, investing in the police, levelling up per pupil funding in schools and giving certainty to EU nationals living in the UK - are worthy aims.

But if the Prime Minister and his government are to build the great society to which people of Britain aspire to; words must quickly turn in to action.  There is no time to waste. 

By Matt Hussey - Policy team

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