Care system report is a wake-up call says MSP

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Young people leaving care are being failed by the system which is aimed at helping them make the transition to adulthood, MSPs have warned.

Politicians were debating a report by a Holyrood committee which has condemned the standard of accommodation given to 16-year-olds leaving care.

Labour MSP Elaine Murray said a different approach is needed, while Conservative MSP Alex Johnstone said the report is a “wake-up call” for the Scottish Government.

The Equal Opportunities Committee report found that leaving care can be a “very abrupt” experience for young people and can result in them being left alone in “utterly unacceptable, substandard” accommodation. It found that aspects of the care system are “increasing the likelihood” that youngsters will become homeless.

Ms Murray said: “Overall we continue to fail these young people leaving care with regard to their future life chances, whether those be educational achievements, employability, homelessness, and the likelihood of becoming an offender and spending a period of time in prison.

“We must develop a more holistic and person-centred approach to supporting young people in care, and during the transition to adulthood.”

Mr Johnstone said: “I believe this report should act as a wake-up call to the Scottish Government. The Scottish Conservatives call on the Scottish Government to take cognisance of this report and put in place the kind of bold solutions which we need to combat the issues it contains.

“When it does we will be delighted to support its actions.”

Housing Minister Margaret Burgess said tackling youth homelessness is a priority, with young people making up a third of all homeless people.

Progress is being made and recommendations from the committee’s report are being acted upon, she said.