Several people have written to me regarding the Children Society’s campaign on vulnerable children in society.
I welcome that ministers are continuing with the urgent work of overhauling how police, social care and other agencies work together to protect vulnerable children. This includes tackling the kind of organised grooming and sexual exploitation that has come to light in Rotherham, Rochdale and other towns and cities across the UK.
A key part of the Children Society’s campaign is to tackle the stigma of mental health, it is crucial that children are taught about the importance of mental health awareness. I am encouraged that the Department of Education has provided funding for the PSHE Association to produce guidance and age-appropriate lesson plans to help teachers and schools teach about mental health. I am also encouraged that the Government made amendments to the Children and Social Work Act that would require all secondary schools in England to teach relationships and sex education, including a focus on mental well-being.
Another part of this campaign is the policy of a “Breathing Space”, which would give families 12 months free from enforcement on debt repayments. This is an interesting proposal. I understand that some form of 'breathing space' is being explored as an addition to other debt solutions that are currently offered. The Treasury and the Insolvency Service have been asked to investigate possible options and have begun work on a review.
I shall continue to look at this matter in Parliament.