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Whitehall’s paralysis is letting down Children in Need: Children’s Commissioner

‘The next Government must look seriously at the life chances of vulnerable children’

The Children's Commissioner for England, Anne Longfield says that the DfE's Children in Need Review, published on 17 June, "brings into sharp focus the absolute paralysis currently affecting much of Whitehall and Westminster".

Whilst welcoming the analysis within the review, she says:

"It is three years since Brexit became the national political priority – three years in which half of the youngest children in need have grown up failing to meet their early development goals, a lifetime disadvantage. While the Westminster manoeuvring continues, on and on interminably, Government itself has ground almost to a halt and the prospects for many of these kids remains wretched. Soon we will have the third Prime Minister of my tenure as Children's Commissioner. More departmental upheaval could follow, and the chance to get a grip of tackling childhood vulnerability delayed again."

She adds:

"I cannot find any commitments in [the] review to dramatically improve the services the Government knows can change life chances. Worryingly, there is only one mention of the Troubled Families programme. Similarly, there is a strong focus on poor early years outcomes, but no mention for example of how more health visitors could help. And the only action points relating to children's services are promises about improving Ofsted grading and social work practice. Telling schools they ought to 'do more' is unrealistic and unfair when the services on which they and families rely are being cut to shreds.

"Ultimately, the next Government must look seriously at the life chances of vulnerable children in England. The new Prime Minister will have to decide whether this is a priority for him, and today's Children in Need review is yet another reminder of the scale of the challenge. Will the new occupant of Downing Street be up to it, or will they allow more generations of vulnerable children to grow up without the advantages and opportunities they expect by right for their own kids? Of course, the great tragedy for thousands of children is that these decisions could and should have been made ages ago."

For the Review, click here. For the Children's Commissioner's full statement, click here. For the response of the Association of Directors of Children's Services, click here.