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‘Systemic failing in the provision of support to vulnerable care leavers’: Public Accounts Committee

Central and local government must do more to aid care leavers’ transition to adulthood

The House of Commons Committee of Public Accounts has published its report on care leavers' transition to adulthood. It is here.

The Committee concludes that there has been a systemic failing in the provision of support to vulnerable care leavers. The quality and cost of support that local authorities give to care leavers varies unacceptably across the country and outcomes for young people leaving care are poor and worsening. Ofsted's inspections have found that two-thirds of local authorities' care leaver services are inadequate or require improvement and there is no clear relationship between the amount spent and the quality of service. The scale of variability in the quality and cost of support, and a lack of understanding of what causes this, show that this is a systemic issue, rather than a problem in just a few local authorities.

The Committee welcomes the Government's intent to improve the lives of care leavers, signalled by the launch of the Care Leaver Strategy in 2013, and the fact that more good practice in supporting care leavers is now emerging. But central and local government must both take more responsibility for improving outcomes and the quality of support.

Responding to the report, Cllr Roy Perry, Chair of the Local Government Association's Children and Young People's Board, said:

"Councils do everything they can to support all care leavers, providing help for youngsters with housing, finding a job and financial assistance as they move towards an independent life. Councils widely recognise that young adults have a better start in life if they maintain a relationship with their foster carer. Indeed, it has long been common practice for young people to stay with families beyond the age of 18.

"However, the growing number of young people coming into the care system, alongside 40 per cent cuts in funding to councils from central government since 2010, means that this is becoming an increasing challenge. Councils cannot do this alone and we urgently need to see the whole system properly funded and joined-up to ensure children and young people receive the support they need, when they need it."

The report is here.