New package of support for young people leaving care in Warwickshire

Ten free driving lessons are being offered to young people leaving the care of Warwickshire County Council.

The free lessons are part of a ‘local offer’ – a package of support designed to improve employability, and help young people leaving care lead successful independent lives. The measures follow The Children and Social Work Act 2017, which introduced a set of ‘parenting principles’ covering the kind of help and services councils need to provide, in order to help young people leaving care prepare for independent living and adulthood.

Other key elements of the offer include:

  • Five apprenticeships with the County Council to be ring-fenced for care leavers. If the apprentice lives independently, they will be paid £7.05 per hour – nearly twice the national average.
  • Free leisure passes to be provided in North Warwickshire, Rugby, Stratford and Warwick, while those living in Nuneaton and Bedworth will be allowed to swim for free and get a discount on leisure facilities.
  • Exemption from paying council tax for care leavers living independently, up to the age of 21.

The local offer is based on the services the County Council already has in place and looks to build on and strengthen these, ensuring better life chances for young people leaving care.

At the end of February 2018, there were 533 care leavers eligible for the local offer of support, and that figure could rise to 690 by 2023.

Cllr Jeff Morgan, portfolio holder for children’s services said:

“Care leavers are some of the most vulnerable members of our community and we want to do as much as we can to support them on their path to leading successful, independent lives. We asked young people in care what should be included in our offer, and one of the key items they mentioned was the provision of driving lessons.

“This is why we are including a block of ten driving lessons to be bought for all care leavers at any time between their 17th and 21st birthday which we know will also increase their employability. We are also keen to help care leavers into work, by ring-fencing five apprenticeships. For those care leavers interested in taking up an apprenticeship, we will also provide pre-apprenticeship support, including work experience in the relevant area.”

Central government is providing Warwickshire with £33,000 towards meeting the additional duties. The total additional costs for the County Council will be £102,200 per annum based on the current number of care leavers.