Children leaving care are being placed in bed-and-breakfasts with “awful” living conditions, a children’s charity has found.
Using data gathered from a Freedom of Information request, Barnardo’s has revealed that 73 per cent of local councils in England used B&Bs to house young people leaving their care last year.
They also found that 51 per cent of local authorities put care leavers into B&Bs for more than 28 days, and 46 per cent used them “repeatedly”.
Puja Darbari, a Bernardo’s director, stayed overnight in one of the B&Bs used to house care leavers and was appalled by the conditions she found. These included a smoke alarm covered with a plastic bag, faulty locks, a broken window and an unclean bathroom.
She called it “a horrible experience” and said she was “horrified that this is how we treat vulnerable young people in desperate need of a place to stay”.
“I’m a grown woman and I was scared. I can’t begin to imagine how a 16 year old would cope in that situation.”
This is not the first time the use of bed-and-breakfasts has come under fire from a children’s charity. Earlier this year, the chief executive of the Who Cares? Trust told the House of Commons Education Select Committee that local authorities should stop using B&Bs to house children leaving care.
A few months later, the committee published a report calling for a ban on the use of B&Bs for care leavers.
In response to these findings, Barnardo’s has launched new guidance for local councils. The charity also launched the ‘Beyond Care’ campaign, which is designed to encourage members of the public to write to their local councils, demanding they provide better conditions for children leaving care.