Our review of 2015: Part One

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The first part of our round-up of 2015 looks back at the run-up to the general election and the Queen’s Speech outlining the legislative agenda for the first 12 months of this parliament.

 

The year started with new research from Action for Children which found that parents’ biggest worry about their child’s health was their mental and emotional wellbeing. Funding for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) became a hot topic in the run up to the general election with all parities pledging greater funding if they were to win in May.

 

In January our Stitch in Time campaign ramped up as Action for Children, Barnardo’s, NSPCC, The Children’s Society and Save the Children UK came together to place call on the next government to place early intervention at the heart of their agenda. In February the Education Secretary spoke warmly about the campaign and the five charities continued to press politicians from all sides as the election came into view.

 

In February the Home Secretary, Theresa May MP, announced an Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse to be led by Dame Lowell Goddard QC. Justice Goddard announced that twelve separate investigations would take place as part of the Inquiry, including investigations into MPs, local councils, and church organisations.

 

Following on from our successful Neglect Law change campaign, in March we published a new poll of social workers which found there are overstretched and felt powerless to help children. We also had a special visitor to our children’s centre in Birmingham.

 

May’s general election saw big changes in Westminster. The Conservative Party won an outright majority and the Scottish National Party made significant gains to become the third largest party in Westminster. After five years as a Coalition Partner the Liberal Democrats left government and joined Labour’s new frontbench in opposition.

 

The Queen’s Speech in gave us the biggest indication of where the Government’s focus would be for the first 12 months of this Parliament. With an expansion of the troubled families’ programme, an increase in free childcare for working parents and changes to welfare, including tax credits, the scene was set for a busy year ahead.

 

In June, Action for Children along with other members of the Alliance for Children in Care and Care Leavers called for a clearer definition of what care is aiming to achieve. We want to see a statement in law defining the principal aim of the care system for those children who spend a significant time in care, as promoting psychological healing from past harm, building resilience and achieving well-being.

 

The changes to benefit entitlements brought in through the Welfare Reform and Work Bill 2015 also saw the Government announce plans to scrap the Child Poverty Act 2010, which includes a legal obligation for government to eradicate child poverty by 2020, and replace it with a new Life Chances Act. The new Life Chances Act would only require government to report on education attainment at age 16 and the number of children in workless households. Action for Children set about working to strengthen the government approach through greater recognition of the importance of the foundation years and income in a child’s future success.

 

 

It was certainly a busy and headline grabbing first six months to 2015.

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