A potentially life-changing initiative for children leaving care only has enough funding to support one in five young people, councils warn today.
From 1 April, councils will have a new duty to provide eligible care leavers aged 21 to 25 with a personal adviser.
A personal adviser acts as a focal point for the care leaver, ensuring that they are provided with the practical and emotional support they need to make a successful transition to adulthood. Those under 21 already receive this support.
However the Local Government Association, which represents 370 councils in England and Wales, is concerned that the Government is only providing enough funding for 20 per cent of care leavers.
This amounts to around 4,700 young people out of a total of more than 23,000.
The Government has allocated around £12 million for councils to provide personal advisers but the LGA warns that at least double this amount could be needed.
In addition, no extra funding has been provided for councils to offer any of the follow-up support that a young person leaving care might need.
This support could range from short-term financial assistance for help with travel, food or bills, to more significant requests for accommodation to prevent someone becoming homeless.
Instead the shortfall will have to be met by councils, who could be forced to find the money by cutting provision elsewhere.
The LGA said this would only exacerbate pressures on council children’s services, which already face a funding gap of around £2 billion by 2020.
Cllr Richard Watts, Chair of the LGA’s Children and Young People Board, said:
“This is a potentially life-changing initiative that could make a real difference to young people’s lives.
“Personal advisers can play a major role in supporting care leavers as they move towards independence and we were fully supportive of the decision to extend this to all care leavers up the age of 25.
“However we are disappointed that the Government will only provide funding for just 20 per cent of eligible care leavers. While not every care leaver will need the support, we expect the number to be much higher than what the Government has anticipated.
“This is further compounded by the fact that councils will receive no extra money to provide any of the essential follow-up support a young person might need, whether it’s travel or food or even a roof over their heads.
“It is essential that this is funded properly by government if we are to help improve young people’s lives and give them the best start in adulthood.”