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
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Universal Periodic Review

10 October 2022

The Children’s Law Centre has worked alongside the Children’s Rights Alliance England, Together Scotland and the Wales UNCRC Monitoring Group to produce a series of thematic briefings to inform the Universal Periodic Review (UPR).

What is the Universal Periodic Review?

Approximately every four years, the UK’s overall human rights progress is assessed under the UPR.

The UPR is a process where the countries that are members of the UN Human Rights Council review the human rights progress of UN member states. The UPR is based on the UN Charter and all the UN human rights treaties that have been ratified the country under review.   

The UK will have its next UPR review in November 2022. Prior to the review, the UK Government submit a full report outlining steps it has taken to progress human rights since the its review. Other countries review this information and can make recommendations on where further improvements could be made. The aim of the UPR is to improve the overall human rights situation in each country and share best practice around the globe.

Civil society organisations can present their own reports as part of the process and CLC has worked closely alongside other children’s rights organisations in England, Scotland and Wales to draft the following briefings to assist in informing the review, in the context of the state of children’s rights in the UK:

General Measures of Implementation

Non-Discrimination and Participation

Child Poverty

Mental Health


Access to Justice


Policing and Child Justice System

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Equality Commission To Investigate High Street Voucher Scheme

19 December 2021

The Equality Commission has decided to authorise an investigation into the High Street Voucher Scheme. The investigation follows a complaint from a young person, under 18, who alleged that the Department for the Economy failed to comply with its approved equality scheme when making the decision to exclude under 18s. The young person has been assisted in their complaint by the Children’s Law Centre.

Claire Kemp, Policy Officer at the Children’s Law Centre said: “Decision makers have a duty to ensure the decisions they make do not adversely impact or discriminate against sections of the population. This includes children and young people. To ensure they avoid making decisions that discriminate they have to carry out an equality screening exercise at the earliest opportunity. In this case it was clear the Department for the Economy failed to do that.

“We’re happy to assist this young person in their complaint and are pleased the Equality Commission has authorised an investigation. The Department was in the position to publicly announce the High Street Voucher Scheme in February 2021 but evidently failed to carry out an equality screening exercise until the young person complained. In fact, the screening document provided to the young person was completed, signed off and published on the same day as the response to their complaint on 10th September 2021. This was not the earliest opportunity as is required, it was an afterthought.

“Children and young people under the age of 18 play a vital role in our society. They contribute to the economy, play a crucial role in many parts of the high street economy and played a key role in navigating our way through some of the darkest months of the pandemic. Rather than treat them as an afterthought, we should be looking at ways to include them in the recovery.

“What chance do children and young people have against discrimination if Executive departments fail to uphold even their own equality duties?”

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