In recent months, we have been working with three of our care experienced young people as part of a national project to improve welfare support for care leavers. Led by Learning and Work Institute, the project has developed six key policy asks to improve Universal Credit and other welfare support for young people who have been in care.
This week, Learning and Work Institute’s report and policy recommendations on care leavers’ experiences of the welfare system were launched. This pulls together the key findings of our project and the six changes we want to see to improve welfare support for care experienced young people, which are:
- A designated lead or champion at every Jobcentre Plus or local Youth Hub, focused on care leavers
- Improving transparency: Introduction of a UC ‘marker’ for care leavers and coordinating information for care leavers on Gov.uk
- Universal Credit should be increased, with some care leavers arguing they should be entitled to the over-25s rate
- Increase access to more regular Universal Credit payments where appropriate and budgeting support
- Aim to prevent sanctions and ensure care leavers are clear about what they need to do and the process
- All local authorities should exempt care leavers from paying council tax or provide alternative support, up to the age of 25
We were delighted that the report and recommendations were covered by the Big Issue: Care leavers campaign for better support: 'We don't have a great start in life when we turn 18' - The Big Issue which includes quotes from Leicestershire Cares’ young people involved in the project.
Our young people have been really active on the project, meeting local MPs, Directors of Children's Services, Leaving Care Team Managers and DWP Regional Leads to explain why CEYP need additional welfare support and gain buy-in to the policy asks. They have also been on the radio and in local newspapers talking about the project. We have had a really positive response so far and are looking forward to making change happen!
We'd like to say a big thank you to the Lloyds Bank Foundation for supporting the project, Learning and Work Institute for making it happen and to the local decision makers who have engaged with us so positively on our asks so far.
For more information on our leaving care work, visit: Care experience