Controversial plans to assign a named person to every child in Scotland should be reconsidered as precious resources will be diverted from the most at-risk children, according to a candidate for the Scottish Labour leadership.
Father of six Ken Macintosh MSP said the scheme will make it “harder” to help children who are most vulnerable.
Under the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act, every child under the age of 18 will be assigned a state employee to monitor their ‘wellbeing’.
Macintosh said: “My biggest worry is that this measure will take the focus of social workers and other practitioners away from at-risk children, which will ultimately make it harder to monitor and support those who really do need this kind of involvement.
“I am certainly not going to lay claim to being a perfect parent, but is this really the best use of taxpayers’ money and teachers’ time?
He added: “The national news is filled too often by stories of neglect and abuse, and the all too horrific consequences with children dying at the hands of their own parents.
“At the same time, it is difficult to see how appointing a named person to look after for example each of my six children will do anything to improve child protection or to prevent such deaths occurring again.
“At the very least we need to clarify what this additional duty as a named person will mean.”
Macintosh’s comments came as responses to the Government’s own consultation on the Named Person (NP) legislation revealed concerns from charities, health boards, councils and individuals.
The Scottish Association of Social Work’s response said: “We remain unconvinced that the NP provision will make the difference intended, and the very long list within the guidance seems to reflect a desire to raise every eventuality, a daunting prospect for the people taking on these roles on top of a frequently already heavy daily work load.”
The Herald newspaper, a consistent supporter of the proposals, reacted to the consultation findings by urging the Government not to lower the threshold at which the named person intervenes in family life.
The Scottish Government said it is now considering the consultation responses.
The Christian Institute, CARE, Tymes (The Young ME Sufferers) Trust, Family Education Trust and concerned parents launched legal action against the Named Person scheme in July last year.
Judges are currently considering an appeal, after the campaigners’ judicial review of the scheme was dismissed in January.