It was a privilege to serve on the Education Committee and to produce this report. I could not agree more with the Chair about the recommendations. It is important that the Government look at those and react positively to them, because we are letting down children in our care system. When I was a local authority councillor, chaired the education committee and was the lead member for children’s services in Gateshead, I took very seriously my role as corporate parent. But it is not just the local authority that is the corporate parent. This House, the Government and the Department for Education are also part of the corporate parenting system and should be taking their responsibilities very seriously. When I see the statistics, outlined in the report, that 41% of care leavers aged 19 to 21 are not in education, employment or training, and that only 2% of those aged 16 to 18 are able to take up an apprenticeship, I feel ashamed of what the governance of this country is doing to the children in our care.
It is important that we do something about this barrier to apprenticeships. Paying youngsters who are living independently after coming out of care £4.81 an hour while they learn on an apprenticeship is just not satisfactory—they literally cannot do it.