The Good Childhood report published by the Children’s Society sets out the shocking scale of the disadvantages some children experience. It is alarming that the report includes evidence that young people’s happiness with their life as a whole is at its lowest since 2010. You can read my response to the report by clicking here – https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/aug/30/study-shows-millions-children-uk-worried-crime
The report argues that there is an increasing gap emerging between the scale of the need and the funding available for local authorities to help children and families deal with these problems. The Local Government Association has said the funding gap for children’s services is expected to reach £2 billion by 2020 and is putting vital work at risk, and has called for the government to provide the resources that councils need to keep children safe and well.
It is unacceptable that there are now nearly four million children living in poverty in our country. The manifesto I stood on at the recent general election committed to deliver a new Child Poverty Strategy. It also pledged to introduce a Breathing Space scheme for households struggling with high debts. As you may be aware, the current government also has a manifesto commitment to adopt a Breathing Space scheme and I can assure you that I will hold it to account on this commitment.
Supporting young people’s mental health is crucial, particularly through prevention and early intervention. Too many children and young people are still not getting the support they need. Despite the government making repeated promises to give mental health the same priority as physical health, 40 per cent of NHS trusts saw cuts to mental health budgets in 2015/16. There are also fewer doctors and 6,000 fewer mental health nurses than in 2010 and money intended for mental health has been used to plug funding gaps in the wider NHS.
We should increase the proportion of mental health budgets spent on support for children and young people and ring-fence spending to make sure that it reaches the frontline. I also support investment in counselling in an education setting, which has been shown to prevent mental health problems worsening in adolescence and adulthood.