Posted: 20 July 2017

What happened next? Important moments since the general election

It’s fair to say that the results from the general election in June were not what everyone was expecting.

The Conservatives lost their majority resulting in a minority government being formed with support at key points from the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). This means that every vote is on a knife-edge, Conservative backbenchers are flexing their muscles and we’ve seen a Brexit-dominated Queen’s Speech with a slimmed down domestic policy agenda.

As MPs go on their summer break, we take a look at how the first month has gone for the new government and what affect these changes have had on children and young people.

So, who are the Democratic Unionist Party?

The DUP is the largest political party in Northern Ireland and currently has ten seats in Parliament. Through a Confidence and Supply Agreement, these ten MPs will support the Conservative minority government on key votes -  like the Queen’s Speech, the budget and Brexit legislation.

But a confidence and supply agreement is not a formal coalition. This  means that the DUP will not necessarily support the government on other matters – which will instead be determined on a case by case basis.

What’s happened so far?

The new government’s agenda for the next two years was set out in the Queen’s Speech on 21 June, and was later approved by MPs in a vote in parliament. 

Whilst some Conservative manifesto commitments made it to the Queen’s speech, some concessions were made.

A commitment kept... A commitment abandoned…

The commitment to tackle mental health was reaffirmed by the new government. This included providing more money for the Children and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) as well as introducing a Green Paper on children and young people’s mental health services.

This is a good first step but more needs to be done to ensure that children and young people can easily access mental health counselling at school.

One of the concessions made by the government was scrapping the policy to remove free school meals for all infant school children. This now means that two million children will still be guaranteed a good school meal every day.

However, the Government needs to make sure it commits to addressing child poverty and particularly ensuring that all families in receipt of Universal Credit can continue to receive a free school meal, to avoid a ‘financial cliff edge’ in the new system.

And what about Brexit?

As expected, Brexit will dominate. As we have seen so far, the Government agenda was packed with Brexit-related legislation that will be introduced. This includes a Repeal Bill which will transfer EU law into UK law, as well as seven other separate bills that will focus on issues from immigration to agriculture to trade.

Worryingly, little reference has been made to children and young people, and how Brexit will impact on their lives. That’s why we are calling for children and young people to be listened to in Brexit debates and for protections to be made for EU migrant children, children at risk and children living in poverty.

What’s next?

The summer break will end on 5 September and parliament will return to work. The decisions made in the coming months will affect the lives of children and young people for years to come, so it is vital that their needs are put at the centre of political decisions made by the Government. 

By Charlotte Rainer - Policy team

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