Annual Progress of the Local Offer for Care Leavers (2021/22) and the Proposed Revised Local Offer 2022 -2024
To provide a review of the progress of the Brent’s Local Offer for Care Leavers during the period 1 April 2021 – 31 March 2022, and a reviewed local offer for 2022-24 following consultation with young people and internal and external partners.
Onder Beter (Head of LAC and Permanency, Brent Council) introduced the annual progress report of the local care leaver offer. He highlighted that Brent was one of the first local authorities to publish their offer for care leavers once the requirement became statutory in 2018. Brent had committed to reviewing the offer on an annual basis, bringing a revised version for the Committee to approve every two years, as per DfE guidance. There were commitments in the local offer defined by law, and also a set of commitments defined as additional or discretionary which Brent Council offered. The report included progress against those commitments. The report also detailed the demand on local services due to an increase in numbers of care leavers currently being supported. Children and young people had been consulted on the revised offer and had proposed some changes, highlighted in appendix 1 of the report.
The Chair thanked Onder Beter for the introduction and invited comments and questions from those present, with the following raised:
Responding to how the offer would change as time went by against the projections, Onder Beter advised that the increase in care leaver numbers had been brought to the attention of the Committee over the past few years to keep them updated. The projections were kept under constant review both within the Children and Young People department and corporately. Every year, the Council had allocated growth funding to ensure it was meeting the funding requirements, but as the department moved into the future there would be challenges.
In response to a query regarding financial commitment for care leavers going into higher education, Onder Beter advised that there was a legislative requirement for local authorities to offer £2k bursaries per care leaver for higher education up to the age of 21. Brent had been providing care leavers with discretionary financial support up to the age of 25, based on a needs assessment, but was not resourced to provide financial support post 25 years old for higher education.
The Committee asked what impact the new additions to the local offer would have. Onder Beter advised that they had made good progress with the Nominated Housing Officer who worked with Personal Advisors to identify suitable independent accommodation for care leavers. A strength in Brent was the support the Council offered care leavers who might be at risk of homelessness and rough sleeping. The Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communications was impressed with Brent at a recent Moderation Panel when they were reviewing funding allocations to tackle rough sleeping. Onder Beter highlighted that, because the Council did well in this area, the funding allocation was not as much as would be preferred. In relation to the updates to the financial guide and how that would have an impact, the Committee were advised that it was too early to know what the impact of that was, however it was being done alongside a number of initiatives, such as workshops provided by ‘My Bank’, work with ASDAN, Independent Life skills work, and the new initiative with the Gordon Brown Centre.
In relation to care leavers having Band B priority for offers of accommodation, with three months to bid for and accept a property, the Committee asked what the reality of a care leaver getting a Band B property in 3 months was. Onder Beter advised that this had so far been a realistic target and there had not been any issues for young people ready to move on. He foresaw this being more challenging in the future due to market supply and demand in housing. The banding was agreed by Brent’s Housing Allocation Scheme which was approved by Council members. The Children and Young People’s department had input into that Scheme, with a comprehensive response to ensure care leavers were at the highest priority.
The Committee noted that care leavers were given a Personal Advisor (PA) at the age of 18. Considering the increase in mental health issues for young people, the Committee queried how skilled PAs were to provide support if there was an increase in mental health issues for the young people they supported. Onder Beter confirmed that all looked after children were allocated to a social worker until the age of 18. He advised that young people aged 16 and 17 were co-allocated to PAs who would be their sole worker post 18. Onder Beter stated that PAs were not mental health practitioners and their role was not to provide mental health support. He highlighted that mental health for care leavers was a national issue and steps were being taken to address this, for example with the NHS transformation plan which included service improvement to CAMHS for young people up to the age of 25. There was also a programme in Brent for care leavers called ‘Safe Base Brent’ focusing on care leavers’ mental health, as well as the Brent Centre for Young People and online mental health support for those care leavers who did not meet the threshold for adult mental health services. Responding to a query on the level of need for care leavers, the Committee heard that care leavers were known to be a vulnerable group due to adverse childhood experiences which would put them in the category of young people needing mental health support. The degree of that support would depend on their individual level of need. It was highlighted that there was much more support available for children under 18 than for those 18-25 years old, who had much fewer services available. The Committee highlighted the importance of supporting that transition from childhood to adulthood and the importance of transitional services.
i) To note the report.
- 8. Annual Progress of the Local Offer and Proposed Revised Offer, item 8. PDF 610 KB
- 8a. Appendix 1 - Draft Local Offer to Care Leavers 2022 – 2024, item 8. PDF 526 KB
- 8b. Appendix 2 - Brent Care Leavers Charter, item 8. PDF 5 MB