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Nottingham City Council to enshrine care experience as protected characteristic

Nottingham City Council joins authorities in Manchester, Wigan, Cumberland, Edinburgh and others in giving people with experience of care the same legal protection against discrimination as other characteristics in the Equality Act.

20/01/23

Nottingham City Council to enshrine care experience as protected characteristic

A motion to make care-experience a protected characteristic has been agreed by Nottingham City Council.

The motion, put forward by Labour councillor Georgia Power, argued that care-experienced people face significant barriers that impact them throughout their lives, often facing “discrimination and stigma across housing, health, education, relationships, employment and in the criminal justice system.”

It said that care-experienced people often face a ‘postcode lottery’ of support and that, as corporate parents, councillors have a collective responsibility for providing the best possible care and safeguarding for the children who are looked after by the authority.

“All corporate parents should commit to acting as mentors, hearing the voices of looked after children and young people and to consider their needs in any aspect of council work,” the motion states.

“Councillors should be champions of our looked after children and challenge the negative attitudes and prejudice that exists in all aspects of society.”

The move means that people who are in care or have experience of care will have the same legal protection from discrimination as other characteristics under the Equality Act including age, sex, race, sexual orientation and religion.

Nottingham City Council also formally acknowledged that children entering the care system are often split from their siblings and placed outside their home local authority area.

“They don’t choose to enter the care system, that they don’t choose to be split up from their siblings and don’t choose to be placed outside their local area.”

The notion of making care-experience a protected characteristic was put forward in the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care’s final report and recommendations last May.

“Many care experienced people face discrimination, stigma and prejudice in their day to day lives. Public perceptions of care experience centre on the idea that children are [irredeemably] damaged and that can lead to discrimination and assumptions being made,” the final report said.

One young person told the review that a teacher had told them “you're smart - for a kid in care”, while another said “I don’t want people to point out that I am in care if I don’t want that mentioned. It makes me so cross – that shouldn’t happen.”

As a result of the motion, Nottingham City Council said it will treat care experience as if it were a protected characteristic so that future services and policies made and adopted by the council should be assessed through Equality Impact Assessments to determine the impact of changes on people with care experience, alongside those who formally share a protected characteristic.

It added that it would also formally call upon all other bodies to treat care experience as a Protected Characteristic until such time as it may be introduced by legislation.

Furthermore, the council said it would “proactively seek out and listen to the voices of care experienced people when developing new policies based on their views.”

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