NCB response to King's Speech

'Difficult but necessary long-term decisions', so where is the focus on children and young people?

In response to the King’s Speech on 7th November, Phil Anderson, the National Children’s Bureau’s Strategic Director for External Affairs, said:

“For 60 years, NCB has worked to amplify the voices of children, young people and their families, convening and collaborating across the sector to ensure those voices are heard at the heart of government so that together we can build better childhoods for every child.

“Today’s King’s Speech, which laid out the government’s forthcoming legislative programme for the new Parliament, began with a promise of ‘difficult but necessary long-term decisions’. But sadly, there was little of substance to address the difficult and persistent issues facing babies, children and young people – either in the short or the long term.

“While there was mention of investment in mental health services, we are disappointed that the government did not commit to reform of the Mental Health Act. Whether it’s disproportionate use of detentions or restraint, or the exclusion of the patient from the decision-making process in the provision of care, the system created by the Mental Health Act 1983 routinely fails young people and for far too long has not been fit for purpose.

“Following the abandonment earlier this year of a 10-year mental health plan that proposed to make the mental health of children and young people a greater priority, the decision to not bring forward a new Mental Health Bill is a huge additional disappointment. 

“The King’s Speech also contained promises to ‘ease the cost of living for families’ and to ‘safeguard the financial security of the country’, but there was no specific commitment to support the 4.2 million children living below the poverty line. We join others in calling for a new Child Poverty Act that will set binding targets for eradicating child poverty.

“While there were things to welcome, including a stronger focus on high-quality apprenticeships and plans to create a ‘smoke-free generation’, the scale of the challenge to children’s health and wellbeing demands a far more comprehensive response.”