Do Tory benefit cuts impact on children’s rights?

A new report suggests that young people identify several infringements of their rights in George Osborne's economic policies.

A new report suggests that young people identify several infringements of their rights in George Osborne’s economic policies

On 28 November, the Children’s Commissioner Maggie Atkinson published a highly critical report into the effects of George Osborne’s deficit reduction policies on children from poor families.

The report used the 2013 Autumn statement and 2014 budget as a basis for defining the policies.

The report suggests that some of the chancellor’s cuts have put the UK in breach of parts of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), which requires signatories to protect children from the damaging effects of economic policies.

In the course of the research, the Office of the Children’s Commissioner (OCC) interviewed 40 children aged between nine and 15, 11 young people aged 16 to 20, and 19 parents/carers.

They used articles from the UNCRC as prompts for a discussion about how changes in tax, benefits and public spending might influence the future of these people.

The report found that the group considered a failure to increase benefits in line with inflation as having a negative impact on the rights of children and young people.

This is because proposals to keep benefits at a pre-inflation rate mean that families have reduced money to spend on food, heating, clothing and family recreational activities, thus impacting negatively on Articles 1/2, 3, 6, 18, 23, 24, 26 and 27 of the UNCRC.

Participants expressed particular concern about families who needed benefits because of disabilities, who may not be able to work to compensate for reductions in benefits.

Some families found that parents had to work longer hours to compensate for the lack of proper benefits, meaning that the time they had available to spend with their children was reduced.

This could constitute an infringement of Article 31, which states that ‘every child has the right to relax, play and take part in a wide range of cultural and artistic activities.’

There was also some concern among young people that the bedroom tax affected the right to privacy as laid out in Article 16: “14 or 15 [years old] is too old to be sharing a bedroom, you really need some privacy by that age”.

There was a general consensus among the group that, “It’s the government’s responsibility to put up benefits in line with inflation so that people don’t get poorer”.

The introduction of free school meals for children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 was considered to support the rights of children and young. However, the lack of free school meals when children reach Year 3 was seen to be detrimental for children in cases where parents could not afford to pay for meals.

Asked how the government might improve the rights of young people and children, the youngest age group suggested funding for local leisure centres, measures to prevent people from being homeless and measures to make the local community a safe place to be.

The middle age group (16-20) suggested resources and facilities within local communities, such as libraries, parks, leisure facilities and community centres, as well as sufficient income for families, in the form of benefits if neccessary.

Parents and carers suggested that adherence to the UNCRC could be improved by cheaper travel, a higher minimum wage, affordable leisure, after school enrichment clubs and ‘good teachers’ and resources in schools.

The report will be considered by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child in 2016, when it examines the UK’s performance against the Convention.

The report has been dismissed by the Treasury as “partial, selective and misleading”.

Ruby Stockham is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward. Follow her on Twitter

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8 Responses to “Do Tory benefit cuts impact on children’s rights?”

  1. GhostofJimMorrison

    This is because proposals to keep benefits at a pre-inflation rate mean that families have reduced money to spend on food, heating, clothing and family recreational activities,

    Yet British consumers spent more this Christmas period than last. We’ve all seen the pictures from ‘Black Friday’, and it wasn’t an image of struggling people, the squeezed middle etc. Most low earners and those on benefits spend ridiculous sums of money on Christmas presents, I’ve seen it for myself.

  2. LB

    So lets see. Benefits cuts impact children’s rights

    Leaving them with a 300,000 pound debt is a great idea then isn’t it?

    Yep, until you can get your head around the debt bondage that you are imposing on children with your Ponzi pensions you’re a hypocrite of the worst sort.

  3. Spartacus

    “Some families found that parents had to work longer hours to
    compensate for the lack of proper benefits, meaning that the time they
    had available to spend with their children was reduced.”

    The fact that the above statement is passed off as an insightful and meaningful conclusion tells you all you need to know about this ‘report’. That and the sample was 70 people, that they selected themselves.

    The entire piece has been written from a belief that A. Everyone’s life should be as good as everyone else and B. If it is not, then it is the states job to pay for it to get to that point. Leaning on the UN charter for support, however poorly done it is, is unjustified and rather undignified.

  4. littleoddsandpieces

    Politicians today are Marie Antoinettes and do not deserve to be in office, causing as they are starvation whilst rising national debt by the tens of billions on benefits admin, whilst making themselves ever richer.

    The state does not pay for anything.

    Every single adult is a taxpayer from the 75 per cent of tax from stealth indirect taxes and VAT, even on food, which means the poorest have a 90 per cent tax rate even if do not pay one penny in income tax.

    The poorest workers paid 12 per cent of their wage each year, plus boss’s compulsory, only to have that sum denied payout at 60 from 2013, when payable if remain in work or early retired in lieu of redundancy under the massive austerity job cuts.

    For the first time women born from 1953 and men born from 1951

    face NIL STATE PENSION FOR LIFE which is sole food and fuel money for many.

    The Tories (and all mainstream parties) are just rising national debt whilst causing entirely predictable and preventable impoverishment of the mass of the population. Even The Times newspaper realises that.

    The Greens just seem not to be aware that they have the solution to national debt, the 70 per cent rise in starvation that is the cause of the huge rise in malnutrition hospital admission, and fuel poverty causing deaths each winter, by their 2015 manifesto pledges that make The Greens unique in UK history:

    – universal and automatic Citizen Income, non-withdrawable
    to the level of the basic tax allowance

    – Full State Pension to all citizens, irregardless of National Insurance contribution / credit history, which has been lost mostly due to benefit rule changes and the huge austerity job cuts. And The Greens offer workers the abolition of the National Insurance that takes 12 per cent off their wage each year.

    Once these policies appear throughout the major newspapers, then The Greens would actually solve the minority government with up to 4 parties in a coalition coming in 2015 because of the lowest voter turnout in UK history.

    The Greens could get the minimum of 326 MPs in England and Wales (and the 4 or 5 left over seats from the coming Scottish National Party landslide in Scotland) to form a majority government that can pass bills without need of a coalition partner at all.

  5. Keith M

    Working in the third sector and with some of the most vulnerable families I know that Tory cuts have impacted on children’s rights.

  6. Keith M

    The benefit cap on single parents has a very real impact on children’s rights.

  7. treborc1

    Reeves said Labour did not want to be seen to be the party of the
    welfare state. “We are not the party of people on benefits. We don’t
    want to be seen, and we’re not, the party to represent those who are out
    of work,” she said. “Labour are a party of working people, formed for
    and by working people.”

    Reeves is treading in difficult political territory, eager to
    highlight the fallout from the government’s austerity policies without
    appearing to be soft on the rising cost of welfare.

    Shortly after being appointed, 18 months ago, Reeves said Labour would be tougher than the Conservatives on cutting the benefits bill; this week, she said she had “robust” policies to ensure that the spending would reduce.

    does labours

  8. Patrick Nelson

    Question: Do Tory benefit cuts impact on children’s rights?

    Answer: Is the Conservative Party the Sociopathic Political Tool of the Greedy Rich?

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