FROM Winston Churchill to Mahatma Gandhi, it has always been assumed that the greatness of a nation – and its moral progress – can be judged by the way its most vulnerable members of society are treated.
On this basis, Britain – and, specifically, Theresa May’s government – are failing this defining test when it comes to the support, assistance and care being afforded to vulnerable young people and their families.
Even though care plans are supposed to provide a degree of urgency, deadlines are being missed in around 40 per cent of cases for a variety of reasons from spending restraints to a lack of collaboration between local councils and partner agencies.
Yet, while the Department for Education did, in fairness, announce a funding boost this week, it will not come close to tackling the backlog of outstanding cases – or the despair of all those Yorkshire families who find themselves on the receiving end of a bureaucracy which, to them, can appear heartless.
Every day waiting for a decision, appointment or home visit is, to them, another day of anguish as they struggle to deal with children or vulnerable young adults who, through no fault of their own, have behavioural issues and special learning needs that urgently require the expertise of schools, councils and others.
And, as families from Yorkshire have now testified, every delay is compounding the difficulties – whether it be vulnerable children not actually receiving any schooling or finding themselves at increased risk of self-harm.
However the Government needs to remember this as it becomes bogged down by Brexit. To bureaucrats, these young people are just numbers. They’re not. They’re individuals with their futures ahead of them. And they, and their families, deserve better than being left in limbo like this.