State guardian plans could place most vulnerable youngsters at risk

21 Nov 2013

Plans to introduce a state guardian for everyone aged 18 and under in Scotland will harm vulnerable children and erode the role of parenting, it has been warned.

Speaking in a debate in Holyrood today, Scottish Conservative MSP Liz Smith highlighted a number of problems with the SNP’s named person provision.

Spreading out resources across all young people would remove the focus on the most vulnerable children, she said, while the cost of rolling out the scheme was likely to be significant.

A number of organisations, including the Faculty of Advocates, the Law Society of Scotland and the Scottish Parent Teacher Council, have voiced their criticism of the plans, which are contained within the Children and Young People Bill.

The Scottish Conservatives have also said appointing a state guardian would undermine the role of family life, and risk intruding upon it.

Scottish Conservative young people spokeswoman Liz Smith MSP said:

“A range of groups have all made the point that the universal provision of a named person clearly undermines the role of parents, families and communities.

“Instead, it places professionals in the frontline when it comes to responsibility for the child.

“When this is taken together with the proposed extent of data-sharing, the extension of powers to the Children’s Commissioner and to ministers, it makes the bill unmistakably statist in its approach.

“We find that unacceptable.

“The Scottish Government says we shouldn’t worry as nothing in the bill is different to what’s happening anyway – I don’t think many people accept that, otherwise we would never have had such a wealth of criticism about its practical implications and accompanying costs.

“What is paramount is the provision of best care for our most vulnerable children, so it would be preferable to have the money spent on those who are most in need.

“Resources should be directed at a better-funded system of GP-attached health visitors for all children up to the age of five, rather than burdening teachers or social workers with unmanageable caseloads.

“The rights of children do not stand in isolation.

“They should be seen in the context of rights of parents and families, and the responsibilities which are central to the principles which underpin all other children’s legislation.

“For us the balance is too heavily weighted behind the state, rather than with the parent.”



The Children and Young People Bill was debated in the Scottish Parliament today.
The Scottish Conservatives have repeatedly criticised the plans for state guardians: