4. If a negative impact is assessed for any area of rights or any group of children and young people, can you explain why this is necessary and proportionate? What options have you considered to modify the proposal, or mitigate the impact?
As noted in the answer to Q2, some of the operational changes like the removal of lunch or dinner provision could negatively impact some groups of children.
However, we deem this change necessary because of the overall need to reframe the welcome accommodation offer; to encourage uptake of long term accommodation in hosted accommodation, social housing or private rental; and to reduce overall programme costs and move in line with wider housing schemes.
Article 27 ‘Adequate standard of living’ of the UNCRC, mandates that every child has a right to a standard of living adequate for the child’s physical, mental, spiritual, moral and social development. Item 2 caveats that the parent(s) or others responsible for the child have the primary responsibility to secure, within their abilities and financial capabilities, the conditions of living necessary. In terms of the proposed policy change documented above, the accompanying adult(s) would have direct responsibility to cover the additional expenses of paying for snacks for those in hotels and lunches (unless covered by free school meals) for their child(ren). The State has a role in assisting with this, for Item 3 of Article 27 prescribes that State Parties, in accordance with national conditions and within their means, shall take appropriate measures to assist parents and others responsible for the child to implement this need, particularly with regard to nutrition, clothing and housing.
The Scottish and UK Governments are facilitating this responsibility via the provision of devolved and reserved benefits to UDPs, such as the £200 initial payment, which aims to help with subsistence costs. This includes child element of Universal Credit, Best Start Grant and Scottish Child Payment. Moreover, councils in Scotland are required to provide school places for children of school age and/or with additional support needs. From January 2022 all children in primary 1 to primary 5 can get free school meals in local authority schools in Scotland. Eligible children and young people are also entitled to free school meals in the primary 6 and 7, as well as secondary school and funded early learning and childcare places.
This also means that in addition to provision of meals during term time, ELC, school-age children and young people may be entitled to access help with the provision of schools meals, throughout the school holidays.
The financial savings delivered through this intervention would allow us to continue with the welcome accommodation scheme and our wider aim of providing a universal offer of accommodation to all UDPs. This is in line with Article 22 ‘Refugee children’ of the UNCRC which mandates that State parties shall take appropriate measures to ensure a child seeking refugee status, or who is considered a refugee in accordance with applicable international and domestic laws, shall receive appropriate protection and humanitarian assistance.
To negate any negative impacts, we will work with local authorities to identify hotels where shops and other amenities are not in proximity and engage in discussions about keeping provisions in place where they would otherwise be removed. As part of the implementation of the wider package of interventions, we will also consider what further provision is required to help support the needs and wellbeing of Ukrainian children and young people. This is addition to the support offered by the UK Government, which includes measures such as the thank you payment to hosts.
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