We will probably never know how much this colossal policy failure has cost. The original estimated cost reported in the media was £44 million and later reports have been in excess of that.
Freedom of Information requests to Moray Council resulted in the response that they didn’t need to tell us. As members of the public we're not important enough to know what they do with the money we give them. Sometimes I think Moray Council officials forget where their wages come from. If the rest of us who do not work for them did not exist they wouldn't have their jobs. I’m sure other councils have given similar responses:
All this has happened during a background of cuts. Recent media reports that the schools children attend are poorly maintained and schools have been closed.
Libraries are closed. When I’d had an argument with my mother or needed time to myself as a teen the library was where I went to be safe and warm. I doubt I’m the only one to have used the service in that way.
The money spent on Named Person could have been ploughed into services for young people. They could have given vulnerable children safe, warm places to go and have fun. Places where they would build relationships with adults who they could confide in and get help from. Adults who had actually listened to them and knew them rather than adults with a clipboard and a box to tick.
Just because the SNP have changed the boxes they expect children to fit into to circular and triangular does not mean more children and families fit into them. It means some different vulnerable children will be picked up but others that would have been previously picked up will be lost to the system.
I was in foster care when I was fifteen due to a variety of crises in my life. My parents divorced when I was thirteen and I went from a nice middle class life to homeless in two years. (It really can happen to anyone)
My foster mother was a class A bitch, far worse than my alcoholic mother. Her methods of parenting were humiliation and degradation. There’s no way I’d have gone to my guidance teacher as I felt uneasy around him and didn’t know him very well. However, I did go to my wonderful social worker. She listened, was full of common sense and a real gem. For my birthday she bought me a copy of the L-Shaped Room by Lynne Reid Banks and a copy of Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope. Both of which still mean a huge amount to me. I trusted her because she treated me as a person and not a box to tick. Now the big question is would I have trusted her as much if the conversations I had with her were not confidential? That I don’t know. I would not have wanted the guidance teacher to know.
At the end of 1992 I’d been sexually assaulted by a man. It was shortly after that I was placed in foster care and I didn’t want anyone else washing my underwear so I put it in a bag to wash them when I went to my mothers. My foster mother made a huge deal of it, including showing my dirty underwear to a man who the children’s panel had sent out (I’ve forgotten his title). I’d already been humiliated by the children’s panel over it. I certainly wouldn’t have wanted yet another male, my guidance teacher, to have been told.
It was suggested to my foster mother that if she couldn’t cope with a foster child whose biggest issue was she wanted to wash her own underwear and only washed her hair three times a week she would struggle if she got a child with really serious issues. I believe she became a childminder after that. All I have to say is the children she cared for have my utmost pity but at least they were able to go home at night.
In May the BBC, and The Press and Journal ran this story about Moray Council:
The Press and Journal
Cutting swimming pools and school crossing guards places children who are not vulnerable at real physical risk. Swimming is a valuable skill to learn. Not just to save lives but in terms of physical health.
Libraries are safe places for children to go after school to wait for parents etc Closing them places those children at risk.
Cutting maintenance at parks again puts children who aren’t at risk at risk.
So I am left wondering how much Named Person has cost my local council and is continuing to cost as they don’t seem to backing down from it? Because there is very real evidence that this scheme is causing cuts elsewhere across the council that could very well put my not at risk children at risk.
By wasting all this money on a scheme of interference and monitoring, the SNP have missed the opportunity to help many who are truly vulnerable in society, including children. This scheme wouldn’t have helped me back in 1992 and I’d have resented the sharing of my information.
Whilst the original of the conception of the scheme by New Labour may have been legitimate and benign, the scheme that the SNP realised has done nothing but cost a lot, invade people's rights and put non vulnerable children at greater risk than they have before. Even worse in the areas the scheme has been trialled there have been more than four deaths of children from abuse (Some have quoted up to seven). Of the major media cases since 2008 when the scheme began in the Highlands, most if not all have had Named Persons.
The Kimlin Family