Posted: 26 May 2015

Will young people be remembered in the Queen’s Speech?

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The Queen’s Speech is the Government’s chance to set out how they will help vulnerable children over the next five years.

Each summer the Government uses the Queen’s Speech to set out the key parts of their legislative programme for the coming year. This year is particularly important as we have a new Government in place with new priorities to pursue, and the speech tomorrow will set the tone for the next five years.

We will continue to make the case to Government to improve the lives of children across Britain. With that in mind, here are some of the key things we would like to see addressed when the Queen stands up to speak.

Child Poverty and Welfare Reform

By the end of this Parliament, the Government are bound by the Child Poverty Act to have eradicated child poverty in the UK. However, at the moment, more than 3.5 million children live in poverty across the UK, and independent forecasts indicate that this number will rise substantially in coming years.

The Government needs to take urgent action to address child poverty in the UK. As a first step, the Prime Minister must keep the pledge he made during the election campaign not to cut child benefit. As members of the End Child Poverty campaign, we believe that by 2020 the Government should give child-related benefit and tax credits the same protection as it currently provides to the State Pension.

Protecting Children’s Rights 

This year we celebrate 800 years of the Magna Carta – the first statement of individual rights in Britain. The Human Rights Act now enshrines in law basic rights which run to the heart of the British way of life.

The Act places a legal duty on public authorities to respect and protect our human rights in all their activities. We work with many vulnerable children every year that use the Act to successfully challenge poor treatment and to negotiate better solutions. These rights must remain enshrined in law, and we will oppose any attempt to undermine this principle.

However, it is right for the government to look again at how well children’s rights are met by UK law. The government should commit to incorporating aspects of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) into domestic law.

Safeguarding 16-17 year olds

Last year in England, 25,000 children aged 16-17 were identified as ‘children in need’ as a result of being at risk of abuse and neglect. These older children are more likely to be registered in need because of abuse and neglect than any other age group. Existing criminal law, however, only offers legal protection from child abuse or neglect for children up to the age of 15.

To make sure all children are protected, can access victim support and that justice is sought, the Government should use the Queen’s Speech to commit to raising the age at which a person can be a victim of child abuse or neglect in the eyes of the criminal law, so all children are protected. 

By Sam Royston - Policy team