Central Scotland MSP highlights fears over guardian plan

Minister for Children and Young People Aileen Campbell with youngsters
Minister for Children and Young People Aileen Campbell with youngsters
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Giving every child in Scotland a named guardian is tipping family balance towards the state, claimed a Tory MSP.

However, this was rejected by the SNP.

Margaret Mitchell hit out after the Scottish Government successfully progressed its Children and Young People Bill through Holyrood.

Conservatives put forward an amendment to only have a named person when there were concerns over a child’s safety or wellbeing, but these were rejected.

The Bill will also increase childcare provision, give every youngster free school meals for three years and extend the timescale for looking after vulnerable teenagers.

The named guardian had come in for criticism not only from politiicans, but also churches, legal bodies and the Scottish Parent Teacher Council.

Mrs Mitchell said: “This will tip the balance of family responsibility away from parents towards the state – something which most parents find completely unacceptable.

“Forcing all young people to have a named person will, inevitably, dilute the resources available to our most vulnerable children.

“The SNP has told 16 and 17-year-olds they are mature enough to vote in the referendum, but not mature enough to go about their everyday business without a named person.”

But Falkirk East MSP Angus MacDonald reassured constituents that the named person provision is not an attempt to “subvert the family”, but simply identifying a single professional point of contact for everyone.

He said the pilot had successfully operated across the Highlands since 2010.

He added: “There has been some misinformation alleging an Orwellian conspiracy, but nothing could be further from the truth. In early years, the named person will probably be the health visitor and in school years, a guidance teacher or depute head.

“Most children and young people will never need to draw on this resource as the majority get all the love and support they need from parents and carers.”

Aileen Campbell, Minister for Children and Young People said the Bill was a starting point to expand high quality, early learning and childcare.

She added: “The measures will support children and families right across the country and will help secure a widely-held ambition for Scotland to be the best place in the world for children to grow up.”

The main points of the successful Bill include increasing the provision of free childcare for three, four and vulnerable two year olds from 475 to 600 hours from August. This will give around 16 hours of free care a week.

Teenagers in residential, foster and kinship care will be able to continue to be looked after until they are 21. Currently it is 19, although youngsters can opt out at 16 or 17. The Scottish Government is providing an additional £5 million until 2020 for this.

From next January, all children, whatever their parent’s income, will be entitled to free school meals in the first three years of primary education.

The bill was introduced in April 2013 and after consultation, including written evidence provided from organisations such as Falkirk Council, it was first debated last
November. Further debates took place in December and January before last week’s stage three debate and vote by MSPs.