Posted: 17 October 2016

Improving support for care leavers through the Children and Social Work Bill

This week the Children and Social Work Bill will be further scrutinised in the House of Lords, which presents the opportunity to suggest improvements. As a key element of the government’s social reform agenda, the Bill introduces for the first time a set of corporate parenting principles into statute. It will also seek to improve support for care leavers through the extension of provision of personal advisers up to the age of 25 and by calling on local authorities to develop and publicise a local offer for care leavers. 

more...

Support children in care today

Your donation can help us reach more children in care who have been moved away from their friends and families.

The measures brought forward by the government in the Bill and in their latest cross-departmental care leavers’ strategy are incredibly welcome, and will go some way to better support care leavers. However, this Bill presents an opportunity to implement a ‘National Offer for care leavers’ to ensure that this vulnerable group are given the opportunity to reach their full potential without being weighed down by undue financial pressure.

The financial difficulties experienced by care leavers

The latest care leavers’ strategy has a heavy focus on the financial difficulties facing care leavers. We know that 57 per cent of care leavers have difficulties managing their finances and that approximately one quarter of the homeless population have been in local authority care at one point or another throughout their childhood. The Children’s Society’s ‘The Cost of Being Care Free’ report highlighted the systemic issues which may impact a care leaver’s financial stability.  Worryingly, the report found that care leavers were sanctioned 4,000 times in a two year period from 2013-2015. Of particular concern was the finding that care leavers tend to be less likely to challenge a sanction application, and yet in the cases where they did, 62 per cent of these were overturned. Further research undertaken by The Children’s Society has highlighted the impact of council tax debt on care leavers.

A ‘National Offer for care leavers’

We aspire for all care leavers to reach their full potential in life through having the strongest possible start to adulthood coupled with high quality education, training and employment opportunities.

The Children’s Society is working closely with a cross-party group of Peers to propose that a ‘National Offer for care leavers’ be included in the Bill. The aim of the ‘National Offer’ is to reduce the likelihood of care leavers falling into financial difficulty, and provide them with a strong foundation to build upon.

The elements of the ‘National Offer’ are:

  • A council tax exemption for all care leavers under the age of 25 in recognition of the corporate parenting role of the local authority.
  • Allowing low-income working care leavers to claim Working Tax Credit in recognition that they may have greater financial responsibilities.
  • Making sure that care leavers are exposed to a less severe sanction regime to better support them into work.
  • Extending the higher rate of housing benefit they may receive until the age of 25 to promote stability.

The National Offer will make sure that care leavers receive proportionate support and protections in light of the additional vulnerabilities they may face. One care leaver told us:

“I think the National Offer is a good way to help reduce the financial pressures a lot of young care leavers face. I've been in situations where I have had to choose between the basics of being able to afford a hot dinner that night or being able to get the bus to and from college. They are not choices you would expect your own children to make, so why should we as care leavers face that situation too?”

The National Offer for care leavers will be debated on Tuesday 18 October in the House of Lords and is kindly being led by The Earl of Listowel with support from the Labour party and the Liberal Democrats.


By Matt Hussey - Policy team
more...

Support children in care today

Your donation can help us reach more children in care who have been moved away from their friends and families.

more...

Read more

Taking a stand at Conference

Posted: 7 October 2016

more...

Read more

Handle with Care: Supporting children in care in Greater Manchester

Posted: 5 June 2015