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STUC 2014 Dundee

You've given us children's law - now give us the resources

John Stevenson
John Stevenson

The Scottish Government must provide the funding for the new 'named person' duty placed upon all childcare and child welfare professionals by the Children and Young People’s Act, the STUC was told.

The act will see the formalisation and statutory provision for “the named person”, a concept introduced but not legislated for in the Scottish Government’s framework Getting it Right for Every Child.

"A law that has great intentions to improve the wellbeing of our children in Scotland needs to be backed up with the resources to actually deliver on those promises. Otherwise it will be no more than intentions - and worse still, our members will be left carrying the can", UNISON's John Stevenson told Congress, seconding an SSTA motion.

UNISON had warned in 2012 that that not enough had been done to cost the measures. John told delegates he had raised that again when giving evidence to the Scottish Parliament Education and Culture Committee last year.

At that committee, in a question to John, Labour MSP Neil Findlay calculated that, according the financial memorandum, midwives would get just two and a half minutes with each child a week - and health visitors will get just over a minute.

"Now, I assure you I am not normally long-winded in my answers", said John, "but Neil pointed out that it took me longer to answer his question than health staff will have each week to address the named person role!"

The motion stressed that, if the potential benefits to vulnerable children are to be realised, this will require funding over and beyond the first year one-off costs currently on offer.

John added: "I suppose we should be getting used to promises of lots of good things and no bad things without a whisper of where the money is coming from - and the Scottish Government will no doubt accuse us scaremongering.

"That is why I would point out that even the SNP's own convener of the Finance Committee, Ken Gibson, said it was "unacceptable" that his committee had to scrutinise the financial implications of the Bill just hours before it was due to become law."

He pointed to a question he had asked about a recent child protection inspection which brought the answer that the inspection's remit did not cover resources.

"That means staff on the ground are expected to deliver on government's grand designs and, if they don't get the resources to do it, they get the blame, not the government."

Date 14 April 2014

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