Child protection, supporting care leavers and Justice Week: The last week in family law

New figures released by the Department for Education show
that the number of children supported through a child protection plan to keep
them safe from harm increased by more than 2,700 over the past year, the
biggest annual increase in four years. The figures show that 53,790 children
were being supported through a child protection plan on the 31st of
March 2018, a 5.31 per cent increase on the previous year, and an 84 per cent
increase in the number of children on plans over the past decade. The Local
Government Association, which represents 370 councils in England and Wales, has
warned that the increase shows the massive demand that is being placed on
councils at a time when resources are being reduced, and highlights the growing
number of children and families needing support from children’s services. Cllr
Anntoinette Bramble, Chair of the Local Government Association’s Children and
Young People Board, said: “It is absolutely vital that councils are able to
support families and help children who are at risk of significant harm, but it
is also important that help is available before problems escalate to that
point. But this is being put at risk by the huge and increasing financial
pressures children’s services are now under, with many councils being pushed to
the brink by unprecedented demand.”

Businesses including Amazon, Rolls-Royce and Barclays
LifeSkills have pledged to support care leavers through a landmark government
scheme launched to raise their career aspirations and improve their life
skills. More than 50 businesses, charities and every government department in
England have signed up to the Care Leaver Covenant, which commits to provide
work based opportunities to young people leaving the care system. Ahead of the
launch event in Birmingham, Children and Families Minister Nadhim Zahawi, said:
“Becoming an adult is a daunting and challenging time for all of us, but I know
from speaking to many young people leaving care, this transition can feel like
facing a cliff edge. This is a landmark moment on how businesses can support
care leavers, who through no fault of their own have been dealt a difficult
hand in life. Young people leaving care have often overcome huge challenges but
struggle to achieve the same positive outcomes in life as their peers, which is
simply not fair. When we talk about burning injustices, this is what we mean –
so we need to be more ambitious for these young people. Working with
businesses, charities and every government department, our new Covenant will
improve the offer we make to these young people, through work placements,
skills training or access to university so that they can fulfil their potential
and flourish as adults.”

And finally, this week is Justice Week, a new initiative
setup by the three legal professional bodies; the Bar Council, The Law Society,
and the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (‘CILEx’). The purpose of the
week is to boost the profile of justice and the rule of law, helping to place
them at the centre stage of public and political debate. Justice Week will
launch a week-long programme of research, public events, and digital content,
bringing together media, politicians, industry, the third sector and the general
public. A survey into public attitudes to the justice system commissioned by
the three organisations to mark the launch of Justice Week has found that justice
is as important to most people as health and education. The survey also found
that few people have the confidence to run cases without a lawyer, and that people
believe the system is tilted in favour of the wealthy. CILEx President, Philip
Sherwood said: “These findings should alarm anyone with an interest in justice.
Given the legal aid cuts, a perception that the system is tilted in favour of
the wealthy may not be surprising, but it is extremely dangerous and undermines
the rule of law. It is incumbent on lawyers and politicians alike to ensure the
system is open and fair to all.”