Children’s Law Centre Support Young Person in Successful High Street Voucher Scheme Complaint

Equality Commission finds the Department for the Economy failed to fulfill equality duties
Children’s Law Centre supports the first ever complaint to the Equality Commission by a person under 18

An Equality Commission investigation into the High Street Voucher Scheme has found that the Department for the Economy failed to comply with its own Equality Scheme. The investigation found that the Department failed to screen at the earliest opportunity and that it failed to properly assess the impacts of the policy on children under 18.

Speaking after the investigation was concluded, Claire Kemp, Policy Officer at the Children’s Law Centre said:

“This is a really significant finding by the Equality Commission. The Children’s Law Centre repeatedly raised concerns at the time that the Department for the Economy had failed to properly comply with its own Equality Scheme. We have now been vindicated in that, but unfortunately around 450,000 children and young people have lost out in the meantime.

“The frustration now is that while the Equality Commission has made this finding, the young people have still lost out. The High Street Voucher Scheme was announced in April 2021 and it was clear at that point that the Department was intending to exclude under 18s with no basis for doing so. Yet it has taken almost two years to get to this point.

“Children and young people suffered during the pandemic like everyone else. Many of them contributed in the recovery and should have benefited from the High Street Voucher Scheme. Not only that, but providing vouchers to children and young people could have made a big difference in a lot of lives by providing essentials for disadvantaged children at a time when people were facing escalating hardship.

“Children and young people are no less deserving than anyone else in our society, yet they are repeatedly failed, forgotten and discriminated against. This finding should be a reminder to all government departments that they must take their equality duties seriously.”

The full investigation report and recommendations is available here