Children’s Law Centre Says: “Punishment Budget Must Never Happen Again”

22 January 2024

A legal challenge, taken by the Children’s Law Centre relating to the Secretary of State’s 2023/24 budget will be heard in Belfast’s High Court on Monday 22 January for a leave hearing.

Speaking ahead of the hearing, and in advance of the next budget setting process, the Centre’s Policy and Public Affairs Manager has warned that a repeat of the 2023/24 so called punishment budget cannot happen again.

Fergal McFerran, Policy and Public Affairs Manager at the Children’s Law Centre, said:

“The impact of the Secretary of State’s punishment budget was plain for everyone to see. The Children’s Law Centre, along with a wide range of other voices, consistently warned about the impact it would have on children and young people, particularly those who are most disadvantaged.

“Ourselves, the wider voluntary and community sector and even the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child repeatedly called on the Secretary of State to rethink the 2023/24 budget and protect children from harm. Unfortunately, those concerns were ignored and we were left with no option but to take legal action.

“We are taking this challenge to ensure children and young people are protected from harm when budget decisions are being made. We must ensure the legal process for doing that is followed, regardless of who sets the budget.

“We are now facing the prospect of another grim budget setting process. We want to be as clear as possible – a repeat of the so called punishment budget must never happen again.”