Children’s Law Centre leads criticism of Northern Ireland budget cuts

Children's Law Centre leads criticism of Northern Ireland budget cuts

Fergal McFerran

Over 100 organisations and individuals, led by the Children’s Law Centre, have urged the Northern Ireland secretary to reverse cuts which will “cause serious harm” to children and young people.

The letter, sent on behalf of 78 organisations and 23 individuals, states that budgetary decisions made by Chris Heaton-Harris have “already and will continue to be felt across all communities in Northern Ireland, and will disproportionately adversely impact the most vulnerable children and young people”.

It adds: “As we approach the examination of the UK government by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child later this month, it is particularly concerning to us that you, on behalf of the UK government appear to be making decisions that will without question actively cause serious harm to children and young people in Northern Ireland.”

Fergal McFerran, policy and public affairs manager at the Children’s Law Centre, said: “The budget and the cuts to services flowing from it will cause active harm to a generation of children and young people. We have had weeks of announcements signalling cuts to children’s support and early intervention services that will cause significant long-term harm to many.

“The way in which these decisions are being made is an affront to children’s rights and equality. Despite having a statutory duty to assess the impact and to protect children, particularly children who are disadvantaged or have additional needs, these services are the first to go.

“Many children and young people, as well as their parents, guardians and carers, are already at breaking point. There is a crisis in mental health for our young people, a complete failure around services for children with special educational needs and disabilities, and unacceptable numbers of children living in poverty. Yet, budget decisions are targeting these groups of children directly.

“Rather than cutting children’s services, we must look at how we better protect our children and young people. We should be strengthening laws to ensure they have full access to services that support their survival and development. We should be making decisions that are in their best interests, rather than knowingly subjecting them to future harm.”

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