Bassetlaw District Council has pledged to provide extra support to young people leaving the care system, and those who have experience of the care system, thanks to a new motion approved by Councillors this week.
The Council has now pledged to treat ‘care experience’ as if it was a protected characteristic, which will help to protect care leavers from discrimination, despite national legislation not yet being in place.
Bassetlaw is now the 33rd Local Authority to carry this motion following an Independent Review of Children’s Social Care headed by Josh McCallister, and a national campaign spearheaded by former care leaver and campaigner Terry Galloway.
Cllr Alan Rhodes, Cabinet Member for Corporate and Financial Services, who proposed the motion at full Council on Thursday 22nd June, said: “As councillors we want to challenge the negative attitudes and prejudice that exists against young people leaving the care system, and those who have care experience, and ensure they are given a greater level of support.
“We already have a ‘Local Offer’ in place across Nottinghamshire. However, this Council would like to go further to support looked-after children, care leavers and care experienced people. That is why we have joined 32 other local authorities in treating care experience as if it were a protected characteristic.
“We are also calling on the Government to formalise this in UK law, as recommended by the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care.”
Bassetlaw, in partnership with Ashfield, Broxtowe, Gedling, Mansfield, Newark & Sherwood and Rushcliffe Councils, already have a joint Local Offer in place, which provides support to care leavers, including; Council Tax exemption; free leisure centre membership; a higher priority on housing waiting lists and an eligible to apply for council housing in any district in Nottinghamshire, irrespective of local connections; and, working with New Roots Housing, providing supported accommodation to vulnerable young people who don’t have a safe place to live.
Dan Henderson, Ward Member for East Retford East, who seconded the motion, said: "I am thrilled that the council agreed to the motion, which aims to implement the recommendations of the Independent Review of Children's Social Care at a local level by ensuring that people with care experience are provided with protected characteristic status.
“Care leavers and care experienced people continue to encounter widespread discrimination in all aspects of their life and we have sent a clear message that care leavers should be supported in order to achieve their full potential."
Campaigner Terry Galloway was in Bassetlaw to see the motion passed and said: "I was overwhelmed by the welcome for this campaign in this district of Nottinghamshire. This council gets it and I’m so grateful to them for standing up for care experienced people. Government said this morning that they are following what is happening in local councils with interest. But they should not be following, they should be listening and leading on this, this is everyone’s responsibility. Councils like Bassetlaw passing these motions sends a clear message that we need change now.”
The full motion put to Council is as follows:
Proposed by Councillor A Rhodes and seconded by Councillor D Henderson:
“In May 2022, the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care headed by Josh McCallister published a final report and recommendations that included: “Government should make care experience a protected characteristic” and “New legislation should be passed which broadens corporate parenting responsibilities across a wider set of public bodies and organisations”.
As an authority, this Council believes that:
a) Care leavers face significant barriers that impact them throughout their lives;
b) Care leavers often face discrimination and stigma across housing, health, education, relationships, employment and in the criminal justice system;
c) Councillors should be champions of looked-after children, care leavers and care experienced people, and challenge the negative attitudes and prejudice that exists in all aspects of society; and
d) The Public Sector Equality Duty requires public bodies like Bassetlaw District Council to eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation of people with protected characteristics.
This Council is proud that – together with Ashfield, Broxtowe, Gedling, Mansfield, Newark & Sherwood and Rushcliffe councils – it published the first joint Local Offer in England. Among other things, this means that:
a) All care leavers benefit from council tax exemption up to the age of 25, including care leavers who have moved into Nottinghamshire from other local authority areas;
b) Care leavers benefit from free leisure centre membership up to the age of 25;
c) Care leavers are granted a higher priority on housing waiting lists (Band B initially and then increased to Band A after eight weeks, if they are actively seeking accommodation);
d) Care leavers are eligible to apply for council housing in any district in Nottinghamshire, irrespective of local connections; and
e) This Council maintains a small stock of dedicated accommodation for care leavers which is used by New Roots Housing, a service commissioned by Nottinghamshire County Council to provide supported accommodation to vulnerable young people who don’t have a safe place to live.
However, this Council would like to go further to support looked-after children, care leavers and care experienced people. Following the 2022 Independent Review of Children’s Social Care, it resolves to do this when making decisions or formulating policy by:
a) Recognising that care leavers are an oppressed group who face discrimination;
b) Promoting co-production and collaboration with care leavers and other vulnerable stakeholders to put the needs of oppressed people at the heart of decision-making;
c) Amending the Council’s Equality Impact Assessments to actively consider the impact of proposed policy changes on people with care experience; and
d) Treating care experience as if it were a protected characteristic.
Finally, this Council resolves to formally call upon other bodies, notably the UK Government, to treat care experience as if it were a protected characteristic and to formalise this in UK law, as recommended by the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care.”
Last Updated on Wednesday, July 12, 2023