The Socialist 24 June 2020 |
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Fight back to stop Tories scrapping protections for children in care
Scrapping SI445 will remove important protections for looked-after children, photo Matt J Newman/CC (Click to enlarge)
Kristian O'Sullivan, Birmingham North Socialist Party
The Tories have been using Covid-19 as a smokescreen to launch rushed 'emergency legislation amendments' to attack and water down workers' rights, public sector funding, and to relax safeguarding procedures in our frontline services.
We see this with the relaxing of safeguarding for looked-after children in care in England, with the implementation of 'The Adoption and Children (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 - statutory instrument: no 445' - more commonly known as SI445.
SI445 removes and weakens around 65 children's safeguards, without any evidence of their connection to the current serious health crisis.
Some of the most distressful changes come in the form of watering down responsibilities relating to social worker visits to children in care, removing six-monthly reviews, dilution of the duty on children's homes to ensure independent visits, and reports on children's welfare there.
These are just the tip of the iceberg of continued austerity cuts and deregulation tactics wrecking an already sinking childcare system. Cracks in the system are getting bigger by the day, as we have seen with a spike in the number of vulnerable children going missing due to safeguarding cuts during this pandemic.
This bill was snuck in through the back door, with zero public consultation or independent scrutiny. They didn't even pretend to care about child welfare and contact the relevant statutory body - the children's commissioner for England.
Rubbing salt into the wounds, the Tories state it 'had been requested' by so-called stakeholders. But strangely enough no one had come forward at the time to state they requested it. And in the aftermath, in a weak attempt to legitimise their actions via a department for education report, they listed organisations like Ofsted, which has itself said it never saw the full amendment draft!
Every single Tory voted to keep the bill, whooping and jeering as they stripped looked-after children's rights away for their 'own protection'! The government says SI445 is just a temporary measure, but no one with their head switched on believes this, and sees it for the lie it is.
However, neither the Tories nor parliamentary arithmetic should decide whose lives are worth protection and security.
This is why the Socialist Party calls upon all care-experienced communities to link up with the wider labour movement and coordinate protests, days of actions and industrial action with trade unions, anti-cuts campaign groups and everyone else willing to fight back to pressure this broken government to scrap SI445.