Morning Star, Tuesday 6th December 2016
Mothers warn that ministers are pushing to weaken protection for vulnerable children and allow security firms to take over care
MINISTERS are trying to scrap protections for vulnerable kids to allow private security firms to make a quick buck out of social care, concerned mums warned yesterday.
MPs were debating the Children and Social Work Bill last night, with the government pushing to reintroduce sections weakening English councils’ legal obligations.
Ahead of the vote on the second reading, due after the Star went to press, Crossroads Women’s Centre’s Kim Sparrow warned that reinstating the “innovation” clause could push social care into the hands of privateers.
Single mums from the north London community centre warned that the Bill reflects the government’s determination to privatise child protection and will result in more children being taken from their biological families at great cost to their safety and welfare.
Clause 29, which was chucked out by peers, would have allowed councils to apply for exemptions from children’s social care law to “test new ways of working” by opting out of their statutory duties.
Opponents, including Labour, claimed the Bill’s measures threatened legal protections for vulnerable children.
Shadow education secretary Angela Rayner said during the debate: “The marketisation and outsourcing of children’s services is not acceptable.”
Ms Sparrow said private firms like Serco and G4S would be given incentive to take children away from their parents instead of the government assisting them with housing and financial support.
She told the Star: “This Bill is about privatisation and the incentive to make profits. These companies want the regulations — hard-won over decades — to be gone while the government wants to punish us for being working class and poor.
“Then they want to make money again by taking our kids away. It costs £35,000 a year to keep a child in care — so the money is there. We want more support for families to be kept together.
“From the 1950s to the 1970s, many single poor mothers had their children taken away for adoption. A lot of these children do not know why they were adopted — and this is still happening now.”
Social care union Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said that the proposal to remove responsibility of councils is “disappointing” as it shows the government is “hell-bent on undermining social services in England.”
He said: “It’s bad enough that there are not enough social workers, or resources to deal with increasing demand due to disastrous cuts to council budgets.
“Now ministers are attacking the very legal framework that keeps children safe and secure.
“The proposals mean there would be no national system for looking after children at risk. Whether children get the care they deserve could depend on their postcode, rather than the legal protections hammered out over decades,” said Mr Prentis (pictured).
“The safety of our children is one of the most important responsibilities of government. But these plans show painful lessons from the past have been forgotten by ministers who are now prepared to withdraw essential protection from those least able to help themselves.”