Controversial Children and Social Work Bill debated today

The Children and Social Work Bill, which would allow councils to opt out of key legal duties to children, is being debated in the House of Commons today.

The legal duties affected by the Bill relate to nearly all the social care services children receive from local authorities laid down in numerous acts of Parliament, including statutory rights on child protection, family support, children's homes and fostering, support to care leavers and services for disabled children.

The government argues that the bill is a ‘bold approach to removing red tape’, but campaigners say that opting out of these long-standing duties is risky and unnecessary.

According to the BBC, around 50 organisations publicly oppose the proposed exemptions - including the British Association of Social Workers, The Care Leavers' Association, Women's Aid, Liberty and the National Association of People Abused in Childhood.

They have banded together to form a group called Together for Children to oppose the Bill, which is due to be debated in committee on Tuesday morning.

Carolyne Willow, director of independent children's rights organisation Article 39, said: "With such a radical and unprecedented change to children's law, it's not unreasonable to demand a Green and White Paper consultation.

"We have been unable to find any example of any other country which allows councils to opt out of their duties to very vulnerable children and young people, including those the state is directly responsible for by law."

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