Child Poverty Bill - continued          House of Commons

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Part 2 Duties of Local Authorities and Other Bodies in England

Clauses 20, 21 and 22

145.     Clause 20 provides that local authorities must make arrangements to promote cooperation between themselves and partner authorities to reduce, and mitigate the effects of, child poverty in the local authority’s area. Clause 21 places a duty on local authorities to prepare and publish a local child poverty needs assessment. Clause 22 requires local authorities to prepare a joint child poverty strategy with partner authorities setting out measures to reduce and mitigate the effects of child poverty in the local authority’s area. These provisions could give rise to issues under Article 14 (combined with Article 8 or Article 1 of Protocol 1) in that they might lead to a difference in treatment between children who have relatively low living standards and adults, particularly childless adults, with similar living standards.

146.     For similar reasons to those set out in relation to the clauses in Part 1, the Government considers that these provisions are compatible with Convention rights. In addition, the Government notes that there are many other measures contained in other legislation which are designed to improve the income levels, living standards or socio-economic well-being of groups other than children and adults with children. The Government considers that it is reasonable and proportionate for this Bill to concentrate on children living in poverty. For example, section 4(1) of the Local Government Act 2000 imposes a duty on every local authority to prepare a sustainable community strategy for promoting or improving the economic, social and environmental well-being of their area and contributing to the achievement of sustainable development in the United Kingdom. Section 106(1) of the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007 requires local authorities to prepare a local area agreement specifying local improvement targets for improvement in the economic, social or environmental well-being of their area.

United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child

147.     The Government considers that the powers in the Bill take positive steps to meet the UK’s obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which was ratified by the UK in 1989. The Committee on the Rights of the Child published a report on 20th October 2008, considering reports submitted by State Parties under Article 44 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Commenting on the UK Government’s policy on child poverty and the standard of living for children, the Committee welcomed the Government’s commitment to end child poverty by 2020. It recommended that the Government adequately adopt and implement legislation aimed at achieving the target of ending child poverty by 2020, including establishing measurable indicators for its achievement. Article 3 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child requires State Parties to have the “best interests of the child” as a primary consideration when undertaking any action concerning children.

148.     The Bill supports the aims of the Committee on the Rights of the Child and contributes to compliance with the requirements of Article 3, as well as Article 6 (State Parties must ensure to the maximum extent possible the survival and development of the child) and Article 12 (State Parties must allow children the right to express their views) of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The clauses in the Bill which impose a duty on the Secretary of State to prepare and publish child poverty strategies and which impose a duty on local authorities to prepare strategies to mitigate and reduce the effects of child poverty on children in their local area go towards the discharge of the obligations arising under Article 3 of the Convention. Similarly, clause 9(4)(c), which imposes a duty on the Secretary of State to consult children, or organisations working with or representing children as the Secretary of State thinks fit when preparing the strategy, is consistent with the obligation arising under Article 12 of the Convention.


149.     Clause 29 of the Bill makes provision for commencement. The provisions of the Bill will come into force on Royal Assent, except Part 2 (duties on local authorities and other bodies in England) which will come into force two months after Royal Assent.

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Prepared: 12 June 2009