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18.07.14

MPs call for B&B ban for young care leavers

Young adults leaving the care system in England should not be placed in bed and breakfasts (B&Bs), and should have the right to stay in care until they are 21, say MPs.

These were two recommendations of the Education Select Committee in its report - Into Independence: Not Out of Care – which looked into the options for looked-after young people aged 16 and over.

Graham Stuart, chair of the Committee, stated that despite the DfE’s assertion that B&Bs are not considered to be suitable, they continue to be used. He added that current guidance against the use of this type of accommodation “is clearly not enough”.

Stuart stated: “The DfE should consult urgently with local authorities to determine a reasonable timeframe for the outright ban on the use of B&Bs for looked after young people. In the meantime, the message must be reiterated: B&Bs are not suitable, should only be used in extreme, emergency situations and even then, for no more than a few days."

In response to the report, which has also called for the leaving care services age to be extended to 25, without exception, Cllr David Simmonds, chairman of the Local Government Association's Children and Young People Board, said: “Looking after vulnerable children is one of the most important things that councils do and is a responsibility they take incredibly seriously.”

He added, though, that authorities must be careful to ensure that any ban on the use of B&Bs does not leave vulnerable young people effectively homeless due to a lack of temporary accommodation. “These cases are often extremely complex and take time to resolve in a way that offers the best long-term solution to the young person,” said Simmonds.

“Similarly, stronger regulation of 'other arrangements' may offer a level of reassurance to some, but we must be clear that regulation is no guarantee of quality. Councils should always assure themselves that any provision, be it fostering, residential care or independent accommodation, will meet the specific needs of the young person placed there.”

A spokesman for the DfE added that the Department has been clear that young people must not be placed in B&Bs unless absolutely essential, and will take tough action where it finds this is happening.

“It is our priority to improve the quality of residential care and we have set out our plans to do this,” they said. “We are working closely with the National Children's Bureau and the Who Cares? Trust to look at the practical issues of supporting young people to remain in homes until they are 21.”

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