Gordon Brown’s pledge to place all 16 and 17-year-old parents who get taxpayer support in “supervised homes” is part of a new commitment to provide housing with support to all homeless young people by 2012.
That was the message from the Department for Children, Schools and Families, following Brown’s controversial announcement in his Labour Party conference speech yesterday.
The prime minister said: “It cannot be right, for a girl of sixteen, to get pregnant, be given the keys to a council flat and be left on her own. From now on all 16 and 17-year-old parents who get support from the taxpayer will be placed in a network of supervised homes.
“These shared homes will offer not just a roof over their heads, but a new start in life where they learn responsibility and how to raise their children properly. That’s better for them, better for their babies and better for us all in the long run.”
His language had raised concerns that the policy would be punitive and stigmatising, but the DCSF today explained the policy as part of a new commitment to provide housing with support – rather than supervision – for all 16 and 17-year-olds who cannot stay with their family.
It will be backed by £30m in capital funding from the Department of Communities and Local Government over three years to help councils to reshape provision for young homeless people and teenage parents.
500 new places
It will provide 500 new places in Foyers – which provide support, accommodation and training to young people – other specialist housing or supported lodgings.
A DCSF spokesperson added: “We welcome this announcement as a means of ensuring that all young mothers receive the help and support they need to make the transition to independent living successfully. DCLG and DCSF will be working together on its implementation.”
‘Supervised’ label rejected
In its response the Foyer Federation, which represents Foyers, rejected Brown’s use of the word “supervised” rather than “supported” to describe the proposed housing offer.
It said at the heart of Foyers’ work was a formal contract with young people in which all young residents are “expected to actively engage in their own development and make a positive contribution to their local community” but said this approach needed to be tailored to individuals needs and backgrounds.