Disadvantaged young people hit hardest by cuts

  • A report has found that young children from migrant and low-income families are being hit the hardest by cuts.

    A parliamentary committee has found that disadvantaged young people are suffering disproportionately during austerity and their problems in accessing legal aid are a "black mark" on the government's record, reports the Guardian. /images/briefing/bricks.jpg

    The joint committee on human rights has praised the government's public commitment to the UN convention on the right of the child, they highlight failures in practice and call from "some of the harm caused" to be undone.

    "The impact on children of this current period of austerity has been greater than for many other groups," the select committee report on compliance with the UN convention notes.

    "Inasmuch as austerity was a necessary response to the financial problems besetting the country... some proportionate impact may have been inevitable. However, we are disappointed that children - in particular, disadvantaged children - have in certain areas suffered disproportionately."

    The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act Act (Laspo) had a noticeable impact on children, the select committee reports. "The number of children granted legal aid for education has fallen by 84%, and the number granted legal aid where their parents have divorced or separated has fallen by 69%," it states.

    The JCHR calls for the role of children's minister, currently held by the Conservative MP Edward Timpson, to be handed to a more senior secretary of state so that "it commands attention to children's rights issues at the top levels of policy-making".

    Dr Hywel Francis MP, said: "The 2010 commitment by the government to have due regard to the UN convention on the rights of the child when making policy and law was a bold and welcome step. In many areas things have improved for children over this parliament as a result, although the momentum set in train in 2010 has slowed considerably in some areas."

    A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: "Our reforms have prioritised funding for cases where legal help and advice is most needed, and have made sure that family cases involving children at risk are still covered. We are closely monitoring the impact of the changes and would be concerned if there was any evidence presented to us that vulnerable children were not getting the legal help they needed.  Since 2011 we have significantly reduced the time that care cases involving children take, and have introduced major reforms to keep more family disputes out of court."

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