Government rejects calls by MPs for a ban on B&Bs for care leavers

The Department for Education tells the Education Committee that a total ban on bed and breakfasts risks leaving young people with nowhere to go in emergencies

Pic credit: Rex Features

The Department for Education has rejected calls by MPs for a total ban on the use of bed and breakfast accommodation for care leavers.

In its response to the Education Committee’s Into Independence, Not Out of Care report, which was published in July, the DfE said a complete ban on the use of B&Bs could led to situations where there is “no emergency accommodation” available to care leavers.

While the DfE refused to support an outright ban, it said it would make a “further clear statement” to remind local authorities that care leavers should only be housed in B&Bs in exceptional circumstances and even then for no longer than two working days.

The government also rejected the committee’s call for inspections of ‘other arrangements’ placements where looked-after children live outside of foster or residential care.

The DfE said such regulation would be “very expensive” and that it was not convinced that this would lead to better accommodation and support for children in care.

Graham Stuart MP, chair of the Education Committee, said: “We welcome the government’s commitment to ensure that these children should not spend more than two days in emergency B&B accommodation, but are disappointed that ministers have refused to start talks with local authorities on how to ban the use of B&Bs altogether.

“We also believe that the failure to inspect and regulate all accommodation provided to children in care is unacceptable and wrong.”

The government also declined to back the committee’s call for Staying Put arrangements that let looked-after children stay in foster care until 21 to be extended to children’s homes.

“Whilst there is a principled argument that young people in successful residential care placements should similarly be able to stay put, extending this option to these placements raises a number of issues not just for the young people in question, but also others who may be living in the home,” said the DfE in its response.

However, the DfE said it was working with the residential care sector and children’s charities to develop models that could make Staying Put arrangements work in residential settings.

“While we cannot accept this recommendation at this point, we are committed to finding the right way forward,” said the DfE.

The DfE’s response did, however, endorse other recommendations made by the committee, including updating guidance so that “social workers routinely make young people aware of information about rights and entitlements” as they approach independence.

The Education Committee is now calling for a debate in Parliament to discuss further how care for over 16s can be further improved.

“We know that the government is listening but we want them to move faster and more decisively on these crucial issues,” said Stuart.

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