Latest Public Sector News

20.07.15

NAO: Support systems for care leavers not working effectively

The system for supporting young people leaving foster or residential care in England is not “working effectively” and support varies widely between local authorities, the National Audit Office (NAO) has found. 

In its ‘Care leavers’ transitions to adulthood’ report, the NAO stated that since November 2013 Ofsted inspections of care leaver services at 59 local authorities have found that two-thirds ‘require improvement’ or are ‘inadequate’. 

By the end of June 2015, only 34% of local authority services were judged ‘good’, with just one – Trafford – judged to be ‘outstanding’.

 602 NAO

This is despite the fact that local authorities must support care leavers until they are 21 years old – or 25 if they are in education or training. It is also estimated that every year around 10,000 16- to-18-year-olds leave foster or residential care in England. 

In 2013 the government published the Care Leaver Strategy. This set out how it planned to improve support for care leavers, including in housing, health, employment and education, by co-ordinating the work of different departments. 

However, the NAO stated that local authorities have no information on 17% of their 19-21 year-old care leavers even though they are often vulnerable. 

On top of this, in 2013-14 local authorities spent on average £6,250 for each care leaver – this ranges from an estimated £300 to £20,000. But the NAO’s analysis shows there is minimal correlation between local authorities’ reported spending on care leavers and the quantity and quality of their services. 

Commenting on the report’s findings, Meg Hillier MP, chair of the Public Accounts Committee, said: “It seems that some local authorities are turning their back on young people leaving their care, when two-thirds (64%) of local authority services for care leavers have been rated ‘inadequate’ or ‘requiring improvement’ since November 2013 and that only 8 out of 151 authorities know where all of their care leavers are living and whether they are participating in employment, education or training. 

“It’s surprising that the Department for Education is unable to explain why the average amount local authorities said they spent on each care leaver varied so wildly from £300 to £20,000 in 2013-14. Even more concerning is that no relationship is found between how much local authorities report they spend and the quality of the support given to care leavers.” 

In the defence of councils, a Local Government Association (LGA) spokesperson said: “Councils do what they can to support all care leavers. We desperately need to see the whole system properly funded and joined-up to ensure children and young people receive the support when they need it. It is vitally important that government departments work better together to continue the work to tackle our ineffective and fragmented mental health system.” 

Amyas Morse, head of the NAO, stated that addressing the poor life outcomes of young people leaving care is a longstanding problem. The cost of their not moving into adulthood successfully is high. 

“The government has made a commitment to improve the support for these young people but the outcomes for many have been deteriorating over the last seven years,” he said. “The government knows the scale of the challenge. Stronger central and local leadership is urgently required to get a grip on this problem.” 

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email opininon@publicsectorexecutive.com

Comments

There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

 

related

public sector executive tv

more videos >

last word

Prevention: Investing for the future

Prevention: Investing for the future

Rob Whiteman, CEO at the Chartered Institute of Public Finance (CIPFA), discusses the benefits of long-term preventative investment. Rising demand, reducing resource – this has been the r more > more last word articles >

public sector focus

View all News

comment

Peter Kyle MP: It’s time to say thank you this Public Service Day

21/06/2019Peter Kyle MP: It’s time to say thank you this Public Service Day

Taking time to say thank you is one of the hidden pillars of a society. Bei... more >
How community-led initiatives can help save the housing shortage

19/06/2019How community-led initiatives can help save the housing shortage

Tom Chance, director at the National Community Land Trust Network, argues t... more >

interviews

Artificial intelligence: the devil is in the data

17/12/2018Artificial intelligence: the devil is in the data

It’s no secret that the public sector and its service providers need ... more >

the raven's daily blog

Northern Powerhouse Partner aims to connect the North once again

02/09/2019Northern Powerhouse Partner aims to connect the North once again

In February this year, official Northern Powerhouse Partner, Cognitive Publishing, delivered EvoNorth 2019.  The two day event was designed to amplify and highlight futur... more >
read more blog posts from 'the raven' >

editor's comment

25/10/2017Take a moment to celebrate

Devolution, restructuring and widespread service reform: from a journalist’s perspective, it’s never been a more exciting time to report on the public sector. That’s why I could not be more thrilled to be taking over the reins at PSE at this key juncture. There could not be a feature that more perfectly encapsulates this feeling of imminent change than the article James Palmer, mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, has penned for us on p28. In it, he highlights... read more >