In accordance with Rule No. 3.4, Councillor P Peacock will move and
Councillor M Pringle, will second a motion to the following effect:
“The Independent Review of Children's Social Care headed by Josh McCallister published in May 2022 a final report and recommendations that included: "Government should make care experience a protected characteristic"
On Protected Characteristics for Care Experience:
"Many care experienced people face discrimination, stigma and prejudice in their day to day lives. Public perceptions of care experience centre on the idea that children are irredeemably damaged and that can lead to discrimination and assumptions being made."
One young person told the review that a teacher had told them "You're smart - for a kid in care" another young person said "I don't want people to point out that I am in care if I don't want that mentioned. It makes me so cross - that shouldn't happen."
This stigma and discrimination can be explicit and often comes with assumptions about the likely characteristics of children and adults that have care experience. They can also be implicit and are evidenced in the way care experience is discussed in schools, workplaces and the media.
At its worst this can lead to care experienced people being refused employment, failing to succeed in education or facing unfair judgements about their ability to parent when they have children and families of their own.
Hearing testimony from care experienced people sharing the discrimination they have experienced, even from a very young age, it is clear that such discrimination can be similar in nature to other groups that have a legally protected characteristic under the Equality Act (2010).
So, while there may be ways that society can help reduce stigma and discrimination, including creating greater public consciousness on these issues, just as with other areas of equality, there is a case to go further. Therefore, the government is being encouraged to make care experience a protected characteristic.
"Making care experience a protected characteristic would provide greater authority to employers, businesses, public services, and policy makers to put in place policies and programmes which promote better outcomes for care experienced people. It will make the UK the first country in the world to recognise care experienced people in this way. As a measure, it will bolster and pave the way for a number of the recommendations in this chapter." Independent Review of Children's Social Care May 2022
Newark and Sherwood District Council acknowledges that Care experienced people face significant barriers that can impact them throughout their lives.
· Despite the resilience of many care experienced people, society too often does not take their needs into account;
· Care experienced people often face discrimination and stigma across housing, health, education, relationships, employment and in the criminal justice system;
· Care experienced people often face a postcode lottery of support;
· As corporate parents, councillors have a collective responsibility for providing the best possible care and safeguarding for the children who are looked after by us as an authority;
· All corporate parents should commit to acting as mentors, hearing the voices of looked after children and young people and to consider their needs in any aspect of council work;
· Councillors should be champions of our looked after children and challenge the negative attitudes and prejudice that exists in all aspects of society;
· The Public Sector Equality Duty requires public bodies, such as councils, to eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation of people with protected characteristics;
· Newark and Sherwood District Council acknowledges that Children entering the care system are often split from their siblings and placed outside their home Local Authority Area. That they don't choose to enter the care system, that they don't choose to be split up from their siblings and don't choose to be placed outside their local area.
The Council therefore resolves to:-
· Re-affirm our responsibilities as a corporate parent to children and young people with care experience
· Undertake a review of the impact of the Council’s Care Leaver Offer and identify potential improvements/developments to improve the quality of life of Care Experienced People
· Agree to include people with care experience as a category within our Equalities Impact Assessment Process, in the same way as other groups afforded Protected Characteristic status
· Include people with care experience in general engagement exercises and discussions on new policy so they have opportunities to shape and influence what we do.”
Universal Free School Meals
In accordance with Rule No. 3.4, Councillor L Brazier will move and
Councillor Mrs Y Woodhead, will second a motion to the following effect:
“We need Free School Meals for all to ensure no child is left behind.
Free School Meals are a way of ensuring that all children receive a nutritious, hot meal every day. Reliable, nutritious food at school helps children to focus on their learning and their attainment improves.
Education staff see first-hand the impact that poverty has on a child’s educational experience and outcomes in school. When children come to school hungry they find it hard to concentrate and focus on their learning.
As a Council, Newark and Sherwood have supported projects throughout the district that are dealing with food poverty, as well as directly supporting with the set up of social supermarkets in the district.
This Council therefore calls upon the UK government to support families in the current cost of living crisis, by extending free school meals to all children in UK primary education.”