27 May 2015

Matthew Reed, Chief Executive of The Children’s Society, said:

On the Full Employment and Welfare Benefits Bill

'3.7 million children already live in poverty and after years of real terms cuts, further freezes to working age benefits, tax credits and child benefit will only make things worse.

'It is a scandal that by 2020 it looks likely that millions of children will still live in poverty in one of the richest countries in the world. An additional 700,000 children had been expected to be dragged into poverty over the next five years even without further cuts to support.

'The Government could do much more for children in poverty by helping families escape problem debt, providing free school meals to all children in poverty, and helping poor families with fuel bills.

'Extending the benefit cap to thousands more families with children – many of whom are working or trying their best to find work, or are full-time single parents of young children – will barely make a dent in the deficit but will lead to more children slipping deeper into poverty.

'Punishing children and teenagers struggling on the breadline for the actions of their parents is not only deeply unfair but, in the long term, deeply counter-productive. If this proposal becomes law, after paying housing costs a couple with four or more children could be left with just £3 per day for each child to cover all of their household needs, including food, clothes, transport and utilities.'

On the Draft Bill of Rights

'Turning the clock back by scrapping the Human Rights Act would be reckless and threatens to weaken children’s rights. Each year The Children's Society uses the Act to successfully challenge poor treatment of vulnerable children. For example, it protects children by banning men suspected of grooming from contacting girls, and making sure that local authorities which fail to protect children are held to account.

'Children’s rights must continue to be protected by the Human Rights Act.'

On the Policing and Criminal Justice Bill

'The Government must give police the powers to protect all children from child cruelty – including 16- and 17-year-olds, who are currently being failed by the law. We know that victims of cruelty and abuse can experience devastating mental and physical harm that can blight the rest of their lives.

'In the eyes of the law, they are children until they are 18 yet they are not offered proper protection. If the Government is serious about stopping child cruelty – including child sexual exploitation – it must act to close this legal loophole.'

Media enquiries

For more information, please call The Children's Society's media team on 020 7841 4422 or email media@childrenssociety.org.uk. For out-of-hours enquiries please call 07810 796 508.

Notes to editors

The Children’s Society has helped change children’s stories for over a century. We expose injustice and address hard truths, tackling child poverty and neglect head-on.

We fight for change based on the experiences of every child we work with and the solid evidence we gather. Through our campaigning, commitment and care, we are determined to give every child in this country the greatest possible chance in life.