Labour MP Helen Southworth urges better care leaver housing

Labour MP Helen Southworth has introduced a private member’s bill that would introduce minimum standards of accommodation for young people leaving the care system.

The 10-minute rule bill proposes the establishment of a national code of practice covering health and safety requirements, security and environmental standards.

Addressing the House of Commons yesterday, Southworth was highly critical of the quality of housing and support currently being offered to care leavers. Local authorities are required to provide “suitable accommodation” under the Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000 and Children’s Homes Regulations 2001.

Current guidance ‘not working’

She said: “In fact, however, the evidence from care leavers themselves and their care workers shows that in far too many cases it is not working. If the guidance from 2001 is not yet working and vulnerable young people are being placed at risk, we must conclude that a step change is needed – and needed now.”

Southworth said the problem stemmed from the fact that guidance on housing standards for care leavers was “extremely broad-brush” and that there was no independent inspection regime.

She added: “The purpose of the Bill is to sort out those problems by providing clear, simple minimum guidance – nothing bureaucratic or over sophisticated, just the sort of simple guidelines that any decent responsible parent would ensure were in place for their child if they were looking for suitable accommodation.”

Although the Bill will receive a second reading on 19 June, 10-minute rule bills rarely become law and are often used by MPs to publicise an issue.

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