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Mike Wood: I congratulate my hon. Friend on securing this debate. Does he agree that one of the major barriers to children and young people exercising their rights under the UN convention on the rights of the child to be involved in decisions around their own care is difficulty in accessing the content of their personal files, and that this issue needs to be addressed across the country?
Tim Loughton Conservative, East Worthing and Shoreham
Gosh. I am afraid that my hon. Friend has got me on to a subject that is an issue for an entire whole-day Adjournment debate in itself, so may I say that he raises a very good point but that I have quite enough to say without straying down that important, though slightly esoteric, pathway?
There have been other reports in recent months. The Children’s Society published its “Crumbling Futures” report, which highlighted that almost 60,000 children aged 16 and 17 are in receipt of support as a child in need, but that as many as 46% of those referred to children’s services did not meet the threshold for support. I am particularly concerned about those who are just below that intervention threshold, who do not feature in any of these numbers and are not getting timely support when they need it.
There have been numerous reports from the Children’s Commissioner, and we have had the Narey review on fostering. The Select Committee on Education has produced its own reports and we have had a Government response. My hon. Friend Lucy Allan secured a debate on the Care Crisis Review, which was published last year and raised some concerning things about the state of the care system. In October, a report from the Education Policy Institute found that the number of referrals to specialist children’s mental health services has risen by no less than 26% over the last five years, but that 24.2% of the children referred for support had been turned away.