UNISON backs petition to protect children’s care rights in England

Members and the public are urged to back the call to ‘protect the rights of vulnerable children and care leavers’ from plans in new bill

UNISON is urging members to sign an online petition to protect the rights of vulnerable children, threatened by plans to let English councils opt out of their statutory duties to them.

The plans are contained in the Children and Social Work Bill currently being considered by Parliament.

Clause 29 of the bill would allow the education secretary in Whitehall to exempt councils from a legal duty in relation to children’s social care, or to modify that duty, for up to six years.

This would only apply to England, as education is a devolved matter in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The government says the move will “enable a local authority in England to test different ways of working, with a view to achieving better outcomes”.

But UNISON national officer Matt Egan describes the plans as “extremely dangerous”.

The legal duties from which the education secretary can excuse councils cover protections for children built up over 80 years, and include many key laws passed by Parliament.

The union is backing the Together for Children campaign and calling on members to sign the petition on the 38 Degrees website.

Together for Children points out on its website that “there has been no public consultation and no evidence produced by the government to support its plan to offer up for abolition every legal duty made for vulnerable children and care leavers since 1933”.