21 Jun 2017

Responding to policies announced in today’s Queen’s Speech, The Children’s Society Chief Executive Matthew Reed said:

'Amidst all the political turmoil, the new government must not forget the needs of children. 

Brexit

'Whilst children did not get a say in the decision to leave the European Union, the process of leaving will have a profound impact on their lives. We urge the government to put the best interests of all children first, including those from the EU living in the UK. It’s vital that children in disadvantaged British communities don’t lose out, and that the support they currently get through the European Social Fund is replaced or continued.

'Children are safest when we work together to protect them, which is why the Government must also ensure that the UK has continued membership of Europol and Eurojust, or that an agreement is in place for working with them and the EU Commission.

Mental health

'The growing mental health needs of children have been neglected for far too long by government and we are pleased to see that tackling mental health has been made a priority. The government must act swiftly and put more resources into mental health services for children and young people. We’re calling for access to counselling in all schools and for action to reduce waiting times for NHS mental health services. No child should have to endure months of suffering before they get help.

Free school meals and child poverty

'We are relieved to see that scrapping of universal infant free school meals did not feature in today’s speech. There are now four million children in the UK growing up in poverty and it’s set to rise sharply to 5 million by 2020. This is a time when the government should take steps to help struggling families. By protecting free school meals for infants, 2 million children are still guaranteed a decent meal every school day. However, much more needs to be done to address child poverty, including ending the four year freeze currently in place on benefits for children and families.

'The decisions and deals made in this parliament will affect the lives of millions of children for years to come, we urge politicians of all parties to ensure that children’s needs are put first irrespective of the political climate.'

 

Ends