Laura Sharman 12 March 2019

Children left vulnerable to abuse due to focus on Brexit, report warns

Children left vulnerable to abuse due to focus on Brexit, report warns image

Councils are failing to protect children from abuse in England due to ‘systematic’ safeguarding failures, a new report has warned.

The State of Children’s Rights in 2018, published by Children’s Rights Alliance for England (CRAE), finds a focus on Brexit is ‘sidelining’ local and central government’s ability to address issues such as rising exclusions from school, mental health problems and child poverty.

The report has accused councils of using a legal loophole to house vulnerable families with children in B&B accommodation for longer than the legal limit.

A freedom of information request found more than 1,000 families were housed in council-owned B&Bs and hotel-style accommodation for longer than six weeks in 2017.

It also found increasing numbers of children are being housed in independent accommodation such as caravan parks and hostels for long periods.

‘It is a damning indictment of our national priorities that such little progress has been made on addressing children’s rights issues and the UN’s recommendations over the past year,’ said Louise King, director of CRAE and director of policy and campaigns at Just for Kids Law.

’We have sadly taken steps backwards in many areas, for example, local authorities are ignoring both the law and the UN’s warning to ensure that families are not held in B&Bs for longer than 6 weeks and the use of school exclusions continues to increase.

It is essential that government and parliamentarians focus attention and resources on addressing the issues outlined in this report and put the safety and wellbeing of children at the centre of policy decisions.’

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