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Watchdog worries over information sharing tightens childcare bill

THE Scottish Government has made last-minute changes to its flagship child protection Bill following concerns raised by information watchdogs.

Ministers have tightened rules on information-sharing as part of plans to provide all children with a "named person" responsible for their welfare.

The changes to the Children and Young People Bill will require agencies to share information with the named person - either a health worker or teacher - if "it is likely" to aid their wellbeing.

They will also have to take the wishes of the child into consideration.

Under the original plans they would have had to share information "if it might be" relevant.

The changes will be considered by Holyrood's education and culture committee today when it votes on a series of amendments.

Plans to create a named person for every child has raised concerns about the extra burden it would place on local authorities.

However the idea has been welcomed by children's charities. The move is designed to prevent children "falling through the net" after a series of tragic cases in which agencies were criticised for failing act on evidence of neglect.

Children's minister Aileen Campbell said: "The Bill will improve levels of care and support to children and families across the country, as well as ensuring services are better-placed to support parents seeking advice and to identify and act on any concerns about a child's welfare.

"The legislation was introduced following extensive consultation with families, professionals and other experts.

"That's why we have been in discussions with the Information Commissioner's Office and others to tighten the provisions for information sharing."

Under the plans, NHS boards will have a legal duty to allocate every child with a named person from birth to school age. The duty will transfer to local authorities when children start school.

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