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UK Government will keep the law undermining children’s rights (for now), but do not want it to be used… #ScrapSI445

15th Jul 2020

The Children’s Minister Vicky Ford MP has released a statement urging local authorities not to use the majority of the regulatory changes permitted by SI 445. Last night the Minister said that the UK government will “immediately” amend non-statutory guidance, as the majority of regulatory ‘flexibilities’ have rarely been used during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since it became law in April this year, NYAS has been calling on the government to urgently withdraw the Adoption and Children (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 – which we refer to as SI 445.

Following efforts by NYAS and others including the #ScrapSI445 campaign group, the Minister’s written statement also confirms that the majority of the changes will expire at the end of September.

We are pleased that our collective campaigning has led to this point. However we share the concerns of the Children’s Commissioner for England, Anne Longfield, who expressed her disappointed that the Government has not taken the opportunity to revoke these regulations as soon as possible.

We are now in the extraordinary situation where the government appears to agree that SI 445 is not necessary in relation to COVID-19, but they seem intent on keeping this unnecessary legislation on the statute books. We continue to believe that many of the changes in SI 445 could seriously undermine local authorities’ ability to safeguard properly.

Over 50 organisations and several hundred care-experienced people, social workers and others within the children’s social care sector have been pressing for children’s rights to be immediately reinstated. Over 17,000 people have also signed the petition.

Rita Waters, NYAS Chief Executive, said “Government guidance cannot restore the legal rights and protections that SI 445 has taken away from children. As pubs, hairdressers, cinemas and beauty salons have now reopened, we do not see why children’s rights and entitlements should remain on hold. That is why we will continue to campaign until SI 445 is withdrawn.”

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