To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment she has made of the implications for her policy of the National Audit Office report Care leavers' transitions to adulthood, published 17 July 2015, that an outcome-based payment scheme can improve outcomes for care leavers and encourage innovation.
The first ever cross-government care leaver strategy, published in October 2013, included commitments by eight government departments to introduce changes designed to remove barriers that care leavers face when making a successful transition to independence. The subsequent ‘one-year-on’ document reported that all these commitments had been met, or were on track to be delivered. The Department for Education is working with other departments through the Social Justice Cabinet Committee to identify ways of further strengthening the support available to care leavers.
Current data suggests that there is no overall shortage of foster carers at the national level, although there are reports of shortages in some areas, especially for specific types of placement, such as those catering for large sibling groups and children with special needs. The number of foster care places increased by 4,627 between March 2013 and March 2014. This exceeded the increase in children in foster placements over the same period (660). We will continue to keep the issue under review.
We are aware that individual local authorities are taking different approaches to funding the costs of Staying Put arrangements. In some areas this includes asking care leavers to claim benefits (including housing benefit), or contribute a proportion of any earnings they receive to their ‘staying put’ carers to supplement the allowances paid to them by the local authority.