Former Children's Commissioner says Welsh Government needs to "buck their ideas up"

Keith Towler was Wales' second Children's Commissioner, a role he left earlier this year. In an interview with ITV Wales he's spoken of his concerns for the future and calls on ministers to "buck their ideas up."

Wales made significant strides in Children's rights in the years since devolution. We were the first UK country to incorporate the United Nations convention on the right of the child into law. But Mr Towler is concerned the Welsh Government has taken it's eye off the ball. He's worried about the rise in child poverty, youth services being cut and the lack of a young person's Assembly.

Funky Dragon was the National Assembly for young people Credit: ITV Wales

Funky Dragon was the youth national Assembly, but funding cuts mean it's been axed. Mr Towler says that's wrong.

"The idea that children and young people do not have a participation mechanism in a country that's committed to the UN convention on the rights of the child is fundamentally wrong."

– Keith Towler

One of his biggest concerns is around the job itself. He's wants the name changed to Children and Young People's Commissioner and he also questions how independent the job is .

He stresses that in practice his independence was never questioned as commissioner but legally he's accountable to ministers, the same people who appointed him and his successor.

Mr Towler says for role to be truly independent that link must be cut and the commissioner accountable to the Assembly like any other Ombudsman.

The Welsh Government told ITV Wales it would be making a statement on the matter in the coming weeks.

In regard to the wider issues raised a Welsh Government spokesperson told us:

“Our commitment to children’s rights and services is unwavering and we have made important progress in many key areas. The number of children living in workless households is decreasing, while the educational attainment of children receiving Free School Meals is at an all-time high and the number of young people aged 16-18 who are not in employment, education or training (NEET) has fallen. We have also maintained our funding for youth participation and have provided £1.8 million to Children in Wales to ensure hundreds of children across Wales, including those who are most marginalised, have their voices heard and take part in decisions with affect them.

“Last year we commissioned an independent review to strengthen the role of the Children's Commissioner for Wales and ensure it is as effective as possible. We are in discussion with the new Commissioner on taking forward the report’s recommendations and will issue a full response to the review in the coming weeks.”

– Welsh Government spokesperson