Local offer for care leavers

Part of Children and Social Work Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee am 2:15 pm ar 13 Rhagfyr 2016.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Kate Green Kate Green Llafur, Stretford and Urmston 2:15, 13 Rhagfyr 2016

It is a pleasure to join the Committee, Mr Wilson; I was unable to attend the sitting this morning.

I shall speak particularly to new clause 16 and the proposals on social security support for young care leavers. I am sure that when my hon. Friend the Member for South Shields introduced the new clause this morning, the Committee discussed how the need for special arrangements for young care leavers arises from the likelihood that they will not have family resources to fall back on in the way that other young people leaving the family home would. It is particularly difficult for young care leavers to find appropriate accommodation in areas such as my own, where accommodation costs are especially high. I am keen to reinforce the points made about the need to review the application of housing benefit rules for such people.

First, it is important to recognise the need for stable accommodation for young care leavers as they move into adulthood. If they do not have the resources to be sure that they can undertake a secure tenancy arrangement, all the other attempts to route them into a secure future will be undermined.

Secondly, if such young people—who may have considerable emotional and interpersonal difficulties, and difficulties with relationships with others—have to share accommodation with people whom they do not know very well, perhaps with complete strangers, they may find that an exceptionally difficult situation in which to adapt to adult life. It is therefore of all the greater importance that they should be able to have their own accommodation or property: we should take this opportunity to exempt young care leavers from the more restricted housing support available to young people more generally. Such support requires them to share accommodation, which would not be appropriate for young care leavers.

Although progress has been made over recent years, in many local authorities it has been necessary to place care leavers outside their home borough. The new clause offers the opportunity to ensure that, when successful attempts have been made to bring young people back in-borough, as has been the case in Trafford, which I represent, and housing costs are high in that borough, which they most certainly are in mine, young people, having been brought back into their home borough, are financially able to sustain accommodation so that they can remain in a community where they have relationships and contacts.

We must also recognise the importance to both education and employment of ensuring an adequate source of income for young care leavers. As I said, they do not have access to family resources to bail them out from unexpected expenditure or debt, so it is right that we should have a social security system that is sufficiently generous to ensure that they are not put in a position in which financial unsustainability undermines the achievement of the social outcomes the Bill envisages promoting for young people.

If the Minister is not able to take our suggestions for a generous interpretation for social security on board in his answer today, I hope that Ministers from the Department will be willing to explore the issue further with colleagues in the Department for Work and Pensions. Will the Minister give us an indication? We all know that these are not imagined problems for these young people; they are very real.