Royal Approval for the Vulnerable Children’s Legislative Competence Order (LCO) means the Welsh Assembly Government can now bring forward Assembly Measures covering children and young people.
Measures introduced could potentially cover placing a duty on local authorities to provide free childcare places, placing a child poverty duty on public agencies, and strengthening regulatory enforcements in children’s settings.
Gwenda Thomas, Deputy Minister for Social Services, said:
We are committed to improving the quality of life for all people in Wales, especially the most vulnerable and disadvantaged.
In tackling child poverty and social exclusion, we aim to promote equality of opportunity for some of the most disadvantaged children and families in greatest need in Wales – those who, without additional support, may be disproportionately disadvantaged.
This landmark means we can now start to develop distinct Welsh laws to improve the lives of vulnerable children and build on existing foundations and the initiatives we have already introduced to deliver our target of halving child poverty by 2010. Next year we will bring forward a Measure on child poverty and vulnerable children.
Tackling poverty and social exclusion amongst children and young people is central to the Assembly Government’s aims to improve quality of life, promote social inclusion and equality of opportunity for every community in Wales.
Since devolution relative poverty rates for children in Wales has improved, down from 35 per cent in 1999/2000 to 29 per cent in 2006/07. However, progress has slowed recently at both UK and Wales levels.
The Assembly Government has already developed a number of initiatives to help tackle child poverty in Wales.
Employment remains the best route out of poverty with positive impacts that go beyond income. The Want2Work and Genesis projects have supported the unemployed back to work and removed barriers to employment such as a lack of transport and affordable childcare.
Over 140 Communities First Partnerships have also been established to help communities tackle the effects of deprivation in their own communities. There will be greater focus on combating child poverty as the Communities First programme moves forward with support for Partnerships to develop work which tackles all the causes of poverty with increased emphasis on working with the whole family.
An independent expert group on child poverty has been set up to provide the Assembly Government with advice and guidance as it works towards achieving its targets of halving child poverty by 2010 and eradicating it by 2020.
The Assembly Government also recently announced a Child Trust Fund Reimbursement scheme that will reimburse every local authority to provide children looked after for a year or more since 1 April 2007 with an annual top up of £200 – compared to £100 in the rest of the UK.
11 December 2008