Vulnerable young people leaving local authority care are not receiving the help and support they need, a new report from the Public Accounts Committee has warned.
The report concluded there was been a ‘systemic failing’ in the provision of support for care leavers, and the cost and quality of services from local authorities varies ‘unacceptably’.
Chair of the Committee, Meg Hillier said too many young care leavers are ‘cut adrift when they need help the most’ and outcomes for young people were getting worse.
Ms Hillier said: ‘Despite much talk of supporting care leavers beyond the age of 18 we heard of failing services, with inspections by Ofsted finding two-thirds of those provided by local authorities to be inadequate or require improvement.
‘Local councils are spending widely different amounts of taxpayers’ money supporting these vulnerable young adults but the outcomes vary widely too – and the Government has not got a grip on why there is no relationship between spending and outcomes.
‘It’s time the Government reviewed its care leavers’ strategy to make sure these young people get the full support they need.’
The report calls for the Department for Education to take responsibility for improving the quality of support for care leavers, setting out how it will make improvements to services. It also wants the Government to help local authorities provide suitable accommodation for care leavers and make effective use of data to improve outcomes.
In response, Cllr Roy Perry, chair of the Local Government Association’s Children and Young People’s Board, said councils did everything they could to support care leavers. He added though: ‘However, the growing number of young people coming into the care system, alongside 40% cuts to council budgets 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.’
According to inspections by Ofsted, two-thirds of local authorities’ care leaver services are inadequate or require improvement.