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“Children’s rights in England have regressed in many areas since the UK’s last examination in 2016.” 

This is the stark assessment that Children’s Rights Alliance England (CRAE) will deliver today as they launch their civil society alternative report 2022 to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).  

The report has been sent to the UNCRC ahead of their examination of the UK in relation to how children and young people’s rights are (and aren’t) being realised in the UK.  

The report will help the members of UNCRC, who are independent human rights experts from countries across the world, understand how children and young people are actually experiencing their rights in England. 

The report covers a vast array of issues that impact children and young people’s enjoyment of their rights in England, including mental health, air pollution and climate change, destitution, rising numbers of child poverty, high rates of school exclusions, the widening attainment gap, separated children in the immigration system, lack of stability for children in care, children in the criminal justice system and corporal punishment. 

We are proud to be one of 97 organisations who endorsed the report and one of the 47 organisations who provided written evidence to help inform it. 

We provided written evidence on 2 specific areas:  

  • the impact on the rights and equalities of children and young people as a consequence of political decisions made since the UK’s exit from the EU 
  • the potential of the Socio-economic Duty to address historic and structural socio-economic inequalities and their negative effects on human rights and wellbeing 

We are glad to see that in the final report launched today, our evidence has been included. 

We believe the type of ‘Brexit’ the UK Government is pursuing has already impacted rights (including the loss of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights) and poses further risks to rights – as is evidenced in proposals included in the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill. We will continue to support CRAE’s call to, “Ensure children’s rights are not diluted as a result of Brexit”.  

We are concerned about the ongoing failure of the UK Government to commence Section 1 of the Equality Act (the Socio-economic Duty) which would require public bodies have due regard to reducing inequalities that result from socio-economic disadvantage. We believe that the commencement of the Socio-economic Duty could be a vital tool for building a fairer society for children in 2 main ways: 

  1. Better decisions: enforcement of Section 1 would mainstream the Socio-economic Duty into the decision-making processes of public authorities, so that children in greatest socio-economic need are prioritised.
  2. Better laws: if lawmakers had to actively consider the Socio-economic Duty when making laws, this ‘pre-legislative scrutiny’ could highlight the particular risk in terms of socio-economic need and ensure that mitigations are considered.  

To read more about the rights of children and young people in the UK check out our recent independent report compiled on behalf of civil society in England and Wales, and submitted to the UN Committee on Economic Social and Cultural rights or read the ‘first look’ at the evidence on children and young people which informed this report. 

Image by Fugitiva