Local authorities should not house young people leaving care in bed and breakfast accommodation, the Chief Executive of the Who Cares? Trust has claimed.
Speaking to the parliamentary Education Committee, Natasha Finlayson said the charity had heard “horror stories” of teenage care leavers being placed in dubious temporary lodgings.
“B&Bs are not suitable accommodation. Young people end up there because local authorities struggle with having enough provision available. Some of the people making these decisions don’t care enough about where they are putting these young people – they need to get them off their books.”
Care leaver Ben Finlayson also spoke to the Committee, Children & Young People Now reports. He highlighted the case of one youth who had been left in bed and breakfast accommodation for seven months, telling MPs “that’s just not on”.
Finlayson said accommodation for care leavers aged 16-17 should be regulated by the inspectorate Ofsted and not, as at present, the Homes and Communities Agency, which does not have a statutory duty to consider the needs of care leavers.
Andrew Christie is executive director of children’s services at the Tri-borough authorities, a joint project between the London boroughs Hammersmith & Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea and Westminster. He insisted that the three authorities only used bed and breakfasts accommodation for a “handful of young people with the most complex needs as a short-term stop-gap measure”. He said that without bed and breakfasts the authorities could find themselves with no accommodation to offer the youngsters.
But Committee chair Graham Stuart said a lack of “decent” alternatives was “not something you’d want to be defending in too many public places”.
The Education Committee is holding an enquiry into care arrangements after the age of 16.
The Who Cares? Trust describes itself as “a voice and a champion for children and young people in the UK living in care”.