Housing to 2040 and child rights and wellbeing
8.1 Legal Framework
The Scottish Government is mindful of its obligations under the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC)[i] to undertake a Child Rights and Wellbeing Impact Assessment (CRWIA) on all new legislation and policies which impact children. This is to ensure that the rights of children in Scotland are advanced and that the wellbeing of children and young people is protected and promoted.[ii]
8.2 Key Evidence Considerations
Nearly a quarter of all children in Scotland (23%, 230,000) were living in relative poverty in 2018/19.[iii] The Scottish Government is committed to ending child poverty and the housing system plays a key part in this. In 2018, the Scottish Government published ‘Every Child, Every Chance: the Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan 2018-2022’[iv] which sets out targets to reduce the number of children experiencing the effects of poverty by 2030. The plan states that “housing is a very significant – and unavoidable – household cost that our child poverty targets take into account”. Given the impact housing can have on child poverty and overall child and young people’s development, it was key to ensure that the voices of children and young people were heard during the Housing to 2040 stakeholder consulattion and engagement process.
The impact of housing on child poverty and children’s wellbeing was considered from the outset of the development of Housing to 2040 Vision and Principles and route map. Children and young people were actively involved in shaping the Housing to 2040 Vision and Principles through engagement with the travelling housing exhibition ‘Present Voices, Future Lives’. The exhibition visited twelve urban, rural and island locations across Scotland between November and December 2019 and engaged with children, young people and wider communities, playing a key role in that we gather their views on Housing to 2040. This was facilitated through a series of workshops, surveys and a film exploring a range of topics relevant to Housing to 2040. A total of 752 people, including 34 children aged under 11 and 318 children and young people aged 11 to 19 years old visited the exhibition. The outputs of the exhibition, including the summary of key findings, is included in the ‘Present Voices, Future Lives’ Final Report published by the Scottish Government in 2021.
This engagement has ensured that children and young people had a suitable and meaningful platform to articulate how their homes and communities should look and feel by 2040. The mobile housing exhibition was also positively received by a range of stakeholders, who praised it as a great vehicle to ensure children and young people’s participation in policy making on a national level.
The interests of children and young people were also considered by a range of stakeholders as part of the stakeholder engagement in 2018 and the public consultation that took place in 2019/20. Five key themes emerged from the stakeholder engagement in 2018[v]: local housing strategies; welfare reform; employment; income maximisation; and the wider role of social landlords. There was consensus among stakeholders that housing and child poverty are inextricably linked. It was recognised that there was a relationship between expensive, poor quality housing and: offending; mental health issues; educational attainment; excess winter deaths; and child and fuel poverty. Detailed considerations of child poverty by local councils through the Local Housing Strategies, affordability of homes, the issue of rising rents as a key driver of poverty and the roll out of Universal Credit (UC) and other UK Government welfare reforms resulting in the increase of rent arrears were raised by stakeholders. Stakeholders also suggested that, in order to tackle child poverty, there needs to be more focus on ensuring that people have access to secure and reliable employment opportunities with good quality jobs including widespread implementation of the living wage, and the importance of ensuring that young people were prepared for employment by the time they left full time education. The formal consultation in 2019/20 also considered the importance of green and open safe spaces for children and planning for disabled children and young people.[vi] The outputs from the stakeholder engagement, the formal consultation and the mobile housing exhibition fed into and helped inform the Housing to 2040 Vision and Principles and route map.
8.3 CRWIA Screening and Assessment Outcome
As highlighted above, we have a statutory duty to meet child poverty reduction targets in 2023 and 2030 under the Child Poverty (Scotland) Act 2017 and increasing housing affordability is a key lever in reducing poverty for households with children. This has been reflected in the Housing to 2040 Vision and Principles and Route Map.
The Housing to 2040 is a high-level ambition which sets a national policy framework to guide housing policy development over the course of the next twenty years. As highlighted above, it provides a Route Map with commitments and actions to achieve the Vision, which will be subject to period reviews over time.
While a number of direct and indirect impacts of the Housing to 2040 were identified and considered in the CRWIA Screening Form, these should be further explored at the point when specific policies and/or legal provisions outlined in Housing to 2040 route map are developed to ensure a comprehensive assessment of their impact on child rights and wellbeing. We are therefore not undertaking a full CRWIA at this stage.
The CRWIA Screening Form[vii] which provides a rationale for this decision and includes some additional information with regards to children and young people in the context of Housing to 2040 was published alongside the Housing to 2040 route map.
[i] The Articles of the UNCRC and the child wellbeing indicators under the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 apply to all children and young people up to the age of 18, including non-citizen and undocumented children and young people.
[ii] Under the UNCRC, ‘children’ can refer to: individual children, groups of children, or children in general. Some groups of children will relate to the groups with protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010: disability, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation. ‘Groups’ can also refer to children by age band or setting, or those who are eligible for special protection or assistance: e.g. preschool children, children in hospital, children in rural areas, looked after children, young people who offend, victims of abuse or exploitation, child migrants, or children living in poverty.
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