Many young people who leave the care of their local authority struggle with finances due to a lack of education, new research suggests.
According to a recently published report from The Children’s Society, as many as 4,000 benefit sanctions have been applied to care leavers over the last two years. This significantly increases the likelihood that they will have their benefits cut off completely. Sanctions are imposed if care leavers do not meet certain regulations. For example, if they do not update their CV or they are late to a Job Centre appointment, they can be punished for it.
The charity blames these figures on the fact that very few care leavers receive adequate financial education from their local authority while they are in care. They claim that nearly “half of local authorities in England fail to offer care leavers financial education support and debt advice”. As a result, care leavers are often “unprepared for the realities of adult life and … risk of falling into dangerous financial situations”.
For care leavers who arrived in the UK as children and were later taken in by local authorities, the situation is even worse. The report found that “many of these young people lose all support from their local authority leaving them at high risk of destitution and homelessness”.
Children’s Society Chief Executive Matthew Reed said it was “unacceptable that children leaving care are being failed by the very people who should be helping them”. Some “care leavers are going without food and other basic necessities because their benefits have been stopped” and this has to change, he added.
Local authorities should “act as a responsible parent and make sure these children know how to manage their money and are able to live independently as adults”.
Read the full Children’s Society report here.