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Council votes unanimously to put care experienced people at forefront of policies

Councillors in Manchester have unanimously agreed to put young people who are in care and care-experienced people of all ages at the forefront of policies and decision-making in the city.

13/10/22

Council votes unanimously to put care experienced people at forefront of policies

The decision gives formal recognition to 'young people in care' and 'care experienced people' as additional characteristics to be considered in all equality impact assessments carried out during the decision-making and policy-making process.

It means that all future decisions and policies made by the local authority will now have to demonstrate that the needs of these two groups have been properly considered and thought through, along with any impact on them.

A Notice of Motion on the issue was put to a meeting of the full council last week and was agreed without exception by all councillors and is expected to have a real tangible impact both on young people in care, and adults of all ages who have been in care in the past.

Councillors also want to ensure that the impact on both groups is considered from the start when services are commissioned - in the same way as other protected and additional characteristics currently are - and to make extra effort to make sure that anyone who has care experience can access all of council services.

All care-leavers in Manchester are already exempt from council tax, up to the age of 25, are considered as a Band 1 priority on the council's housing register, and receive specialist support if they're facing homelessness - without the use of B&B accommodation.

The council also said it has brought its Leaving Care service back in-house and invested in a new home for the service, with 'trainer' flats for care-leavers to get them used to holding down a tenancy after leaving care, and additional emergency accommodation on site. At the same time the council has increased its use of 'staying put'.

The city council's decision to recognise children in care and people of all ages who are care experienced in this way comes off the back of an independent national review of children's social care that recommended looking at making care experience an additional characteristic.

Manchester is one of the first local authorities in the country - and the first in Greater Manchester - to take on board the national review's recommendation ahead of any potential national policy on this, with the Government yet to respond to the national review which was commissioned by them.

Today's Motion to the Council was seconded by Councillor Garry Bridges, Executive Member for Early Years, Children, and Young People. He said: "Young people in our care or who have left our care have the right to expect everything from a corporate parent that would be expected from any other responsible and good parent. Good parents continue to support, care for, and be ambitious for their children after they leave home and become independent, and this is what we are determined to do.

"We're already very clear that our involvement with young people doesn't just end when on paper they become adults at 18, and we've had a solid package of measures in place for some time to support our care-leavers up to the age of 25.

"What we will now be doing however is taking this a step further, by extending our support to ensure that people of all ages who have had care experience in the past don't find themselves discriminated against in their lives as a result of decisions and policies made by the Council - whether that's in relation to where they live, their job, or other opportunities available to them.

"We're fully committed to doing everything we can to help everyone who is care-experienced - whatever their age - towards independence, and to support them in building a happy, healthy, successful future for themselves.

"The proposals we've agreed today will help ensure they have all the tools they need to do just that."

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