Council to recognise care experienced people as protected characteristic

Published: Wed 15th May, 2024

  • Councillors at Charnwood Borough Council with Terry Galloway at full council on April 22

 Steps have been taken in Charnwood to reduce discrimination of people who have come through the care system.

Charnwood Borough Council has voted to treat care experienced people as a protected characteristic when it makes decisions and develops policies.

A joint motion put forward by the Labour and Conservative Groups received cross party support and was unanimously passed at a council meeting on Monday, April 22.

Being care experienced refers to anyone who has spent time living under local authority care such as residential or foster care or looked after at home under the supervision of social work services. It also includes anyone who has been looked after in kinship care with relatives or friends either officially or informally without local authority support.

By treating care experienced people as a protected characteristic, it means the Council will consider this group of people alongside other protected characteristics including disability, age and race when developing policies and making decisions in the future.

Cllr Colin Hamilton, deputy leader of the Council said: “The Council is committed to fostering an inclusive environment that values and respects all residents.

“As part of our ongoing efforts to enhance inclusivity, we welcome this motion to recognise care experienced as a characteristic worthy of protective measures within our organisation.

“This recognition will complement the nine characteristics which are protected by the Equality Act 2010. It will also strengthen our approach to ensure the needs and views of care experienced people are acknowledged."

Cllr Deborah Taylor of the Conservative Group who proposed the motion said: “Care experienced people are one of the most vulnerable groups in society. Many face discrimination, stigma and prejudice daily, often finding it a challenge to access support.

“As a local authority we have a responsibility to ensure nothing holds them back from achieving their ambitions.

“I’m pleased all councillors supported this motion and have committed the Council to consider this group of people when developing strategies and services.”

The motion commits the Council to recognise that care experienced people are a group likely to face discrimination.

It also commits the Council to engage with care experienced people through consultation and decision-making processes to ensure they are represented, and their views are considered.

Cllr Laurie Needham, leader of the Green Party Group added: “The Green Party Group is pleased to support this motion and is committed to working with all parties to ensure the Council is an inclusive organisation and consideration is given to those people who are currently in or leaving the care system.”

The borough council became the 90th local authority in the UK to adopt protected characteristics for care experienced people.

Terry Galloway, a Care Leaver campaigner and co-founder of Care Leaver Local Offer attended the Council meeting. Terry has been campaigning nationally for Councils to adopt care experienced as a protected characteristic.

The Council already takes steps to offer support care leavers through its housing allocations and tenancy support policies. People transitioning from care can also apply for a discount on their council tax bill.

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