JOHN Swinney has said he remains "absolutely committed" to the SNP's named person policy, despite coming under new pressure to scrap the plan.

The Deputy First Minister will today attempt to fight off Tory calls at Holyrood to "pause" the roll-out of the scheme, which will see every under 18 in the country assigned a state-appointed figure to look out for their welfare from August.

Gordon Wilson, the former leader of the SNP, yesterday called for the named person scheme to be scrapped, pointing to a poll that showed almost two thirds consider it an unacceptable intrusion into family life and warning that "stubborn refusal to act will only cause long-term political grief".

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Writing in The Herald today, Simon Knight, a Glasgow-based senior youth work practitioner who recently learned he would become a named person, hits out at the scheme and warned "cases of serious harm will inevitably get lost in all the clutter."

Mr Swinney, speaking ahead of today's debate, acknowledged "concerns and misunderstandings about the policy" and said guidance for professionals would be refreshed ahead of a new bid to explain it to the public.

However, he defended the universal nature of the scheme, saying it was impossible to predict who would need extra support and when. He added: "That is why the named person service is for every child – so concerns are picked up early. This government is absolutely committed to the named person service to ensure no one is left without support when they need it.

The Herald:

"The named person will be someone already known to a family – usually a health visitor or teacher – and will be a central point of contact if children, young people or their parents want information or advice."

A group of ten children's organisations have written to party leaders urging them not to back a pause in the roll-out of the scheme. They Conservative motion to be debated today is highly unlikely to win the backing of parliament, with Labour and the Greens already indicating they will refuse to support it

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In their letter the groups, which include Barnardo's, Aberlour and NSPCC Scotland suggest a review of the policy after implementation to address concerns. It adds: "We believe the named person provisions formalise the best practice of our education and health services, ensuring that every child, young person and their family has a primary point of contact available if and when they need it.

The Herald:

"It is the formalisation of practice that already exists across much of Scotland. It is a policy that protects vulnerable children and young people, taking a preventative, early interventionist approach, before any significant risks to their wellbeing escalate."

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