A government consultation proposing to extend some of the controversial regulations which relax local authority duties and responsibilities towards children in care has found that most respondents agree with the proposal.
The consultation, issued by the Department for Education, has caused controversy among child welfare charities and human rights groups who say the review is not impartial and should not be looking to actively push for a position.
Critics said the consultation should have sought views on all possible solutions to keep child services up and running during the COVID-19 pandemic, instead.
In an effort to boycott the consultation, several organisations asked the sector not to submit responses, calling the consultation null and void.
The regulations, which were brought in to remove perceived pressures from the social care sector during lockdown, led to an outcry inside the sector after it was revealed that the government had not consulted with overseeing bodies before implementing the changes.
Child welfare bodies say the regulations, which allow local authorities to skip past vital document gathering during the adoption process and insist on virtual contact during lockdowns despite guidance stating face to face contact is allowed, place children at risk of harm.
While the document offers a breakdown of the type of response it received, categorising them as individuals, local authorities, charities and other organisations, and a further breakdown of which organisations responded, it does not give the names of individuals who took part.
The majority of respondents were individuals (91), making up almost half of those who submitted views to the consultation (48.15%), with local authorities making up less than 20%, with 37 responses.
Children’s rights charity Article 39 recently lost its judicial review into the regulations, having argued that it was unlawful for the government to implement the easements without a consultation. The charity asked for permission to appeal the decision, which was granted.