The importance of families should be obvious, but apparently it isn't to the old three establishment parties. Families are vital to the wellbeing of this country. In the light of the recent proposed legislation UKIP are making it clear that it is not good enough.
A member of the policy working group on Children and Families, Michael Curtis said: “The proposed new legislation does nothing to improve a system which is out of control and which has significantly contributed to the unnecessary splitting up of thousands of families throughout the UK.
"If anything, the proposals will devolve more responsibility to the Local Authorities and enable them and their officers to make more decisions outside of a Court framework and so remove the legal right to challenge them. Such actions may well reduce the pressure on the courts and save the Government money, but in a situation where there is evidence of bad decision making within the Local Authorities and by its officers, this can hardly be called a responsible move.”
UKIP admits that the challenge with any legislation where children and families are involved is to strike a right balance. Where the successive governments have failed is in their understanding of the needs of changing society and the fact that more support services for parents and families are needed, like those which have just been proposed by the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) and the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) to help parents deal with children demonstrating repeated behavioural problems. Had this Government invested developing such support programmes earlier then it is probable that there would have been a significant drop in the number of cases where children are taken into care.
Whilst hidden, there is little doubt that the new Bill is part of the Government’s agenda to cut costs. Indeed it is a brave move for any Government to put the very basis of our society at risk just to save money, but this is clearly underlying the new proposed changes.
The current system certainly needs to change. With more and more Local Authorities failing and this set against more children entering a process which has been proven time and time again to be unfair, corrupt, biased and, more seriously, central government target driven, a drastic review, not new legislation is needed.
Within the past year the whole world has seen the shameful nature of our ‘secret service’ of social services and our ‘secret Family courts’ and ‘forced adoption’. It is reckoned that at least two out of six homes in an average street have had, at some time, a social service intervention. This is a measure of scale to which the unmonitored power of social services has grown.
There is nothing in the new legislation to correct this, but rather a policy line that will enable it to grow. UKIP notes with concern the removal of basic parental rights from the decision making process in the cases where children are to be adopted or taken into care and the removal of the legal duty to work with parents and to help them resolve their problems before or after the child is taken into care.
Also the removal of the adoption panel scrutiny could mean that a child is placed with adopters, even though their parents did not consent, and without there have been any external scrutiny of the plan for the child to be adopted. This has particular significance for the reforms in Clause 1 of the Bill, which could well make the position of the parents more difficult in Court hearings.
More worrying, the Bill shows to what extent the Government is set on destroying the ties with the natural family once the child is in care. The new proposed legislation will remove the legal duty of the Local Authority to consider wider family placements.
With a Government which is currently pushing hard on adoption and the creation of new processes to fast track this, how does it expect to meet the demand for adopters created by its policies? There are already some 4,600 children who are currently authorised and waiting to be placed and this is without the cases currently in the courts. Every day sees more children added to this list, and this will only increase if the new proposals go unchallenged. It is clear that once more the importance of cost saving has overridden logic, and in this case the need to restore and not remove one of the essentials of society, namely the Family.