Posted: 13 December 2019

Our key priorities for the new government

Children did not have a vote in this election, but they do have a voice and it is imperative that this voice is heard. We’ll be working hard with the new government and parliamentarians to make sure that they are championing and addressing the big issues affecting children across Britain today.

We have a number of key priorities for the new government to take forward.

1. Improve children's mental health and well-being

Children’s well-being has been in decline for almost a decade. This isn’t an inevitability. The government must commit to measure children’s well-being, to ensure that policy decisions taken about children are based on a robust understanding of children’s lives.

1 in 8 children have a diagnosable mental health condition, many of whom will wait months or even years for help from child and adolescent mental health services. It is positive that the new government want to change the law to give people experiencing mental ill health, including anxiety and depression, more control over their treatment. A key part of this must be to ensure that more children can have somebody to speak in a community setting about their mental health or if they’re feeling unhappy.  

2. 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 this threat. As a result, children are being criminalised for being the victims of exploitation. This is exactly what happened with child sexual exploitation

We work closely with child victims and we know the current response isn’t good enough. The new government plans to strengthen the National Crime Agency to help tackle this type of exploitation; they must also urgently develop a coordinated strategy to ensure that early intervention and prevention services are in place and that young victims receive the support they need to recover.  

3. Promote the best interests of refugee children

Children who are seeking refuge in the UK alone have nobody to fight for their best interests in complex decisions that are being taken about their lives.

These children are expected to navigate complex systems alone pushing their mental health to breaking point and putting their safety at risk. The government must use their proposed review of the care system to deliver needed improvements to the support these children receive.  

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

Councils across the country are still feeling the effects of deep funding cuts. At the same time demand for children’s services has risen sharply, placing big pressure on budgets. 

The government has committed to extra cash for social care and youth services but this is a fraction of what is really required to ensure that children and families can access help before issues escalate to crisis point.  Over the parliament the government must build on their investment promises for local government.

5. Improve response for those facing financial emergencies 

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. We’re pleased to see the commitment to end the benefit freeze, but the government need to set out how they will make sure that support is consistently available to families facing financial emergencies via a long-term, ring-fenced fund.    

As we approach the beginning of a new decade, the government must move quickly to turn around the trends in children’s well-being and build a country that delivers substantial improvements to children’s lives.   

If you want to ensure that children’s voices are at the heart of everything government does, sign our petition to the Prime Minister.


By Matt Hussey - Policy team

Read more

How to talk to young people about Christmas

Posted: 6 December 2019


Read more

Human Rights Day: youth standing up for human rights

Posted: 10 December 2019


Read more

What Christmas is like for children whose parents drink too much

Posted: 11 December 2019