Children Should Not Be Excluded From the High Street Voucher Scheme

25 August 2021

The Children’s Law Centre has raised concern at the exclusion of children from the high street voucher scheme. Writing to the Minister for the Economy, the Children’s Charity requested the rationale for the decision, including any equality screening or equality impact assessment carried out by the Department.

Speaking before the Committee for the Economy was due to discuss the scheme, Claire Kemp, said:

“The Children’s Law Centre are surprised at the exclusion of under 18s from the high street voucher scheme. Not only does this ignore the fact that children are major consumers on the high street, we are also concerned its introduction breaches the Department’s statutory equality duties. We have written to the Minister to request information on any equality screening and equality impact assessment carried out to assess the adverse impact the scheme could have on children.

“We cannot understand the rationale for the exclusion of under 18s, especially given the massive contribution many made in the response to COVID-19. Despite being some of the lowest paid members in our society, many young people worked throughout the pandemic as essential workers, playing their part in getting us all through it. To exclude them from participating in the recovery through the high street voucher scheme is incredibly unfair and potentially unlawful.

“The decision also ignores the reality of children’s lives. Some children live independently of adults and some are young carers. Why should they miss out on this opportunity simply because of their age?

“Children have suffered tremendously throughout the pandemic. Disruption at school, increased stress around exams and significant concerns around the impact COVID-19 has had on their mental health. Many children and families have also been further plunged in to poverty as a result of the pandemic. This was a chance to not only stimulate the economy but also help children living in poverty at the same time, but it will now be missed unless there is a major rethink.

“The Children’s Law Centre is clear, under 18s should not be excluded from the High Street Voucher Scheme.”