For children to exercise their rights in practice requires investment in essential public services. These have been starved of funds for the past decade.
Without adequate resources, a rights-based approach can lead to greater inequality. UNISON knows this is already the case with children’s additional support for learning needs.
The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child called on the Scottish Government in 2016 to “Define budgetary lines for children in disadvantaged or vulnerable situations that may require affirmative social measures and make sure that those budgetary lines are protected even in situations of economic recession.” This has not happened.
The Government’s expectations of this bill are far too limited. The Financial Memorandum shows that public services are being asked to do more with the little they already have. This is not realistic.
This is not a child-centred approach to legislating. By definition it is resource-driven rather than rights or needs based.
To rebuild from the pandemic we need a public services-driven recovery focused on children’s rights. The foundation of Britain’s recovery from the Second World War was investment in housing, education and health: one million council homes, the reform of state education, and the creation of the NHS. Together they transformed the lives of the generation of children born during and just after the war.
By the same approach – investment in the foundation economy – we can transform the lives of the current generation, extend their rights, and also create thousands of good jobs across Scotland.