Rob Callister, MHKThere are no plans to change social security provision for care leavers and estranged young people in education.

Treasury Minister Alfred Cannan said financial support was already provided, via social security, to care leaves and estranged young people, including help to pay for accommodation.

Replying to a written Tynwald question from new children’s champion Rob Callister, Mr Cannan said: ’In addition to regular payments towards food, utilities and housing costs, social security can also pay grants and loans to care leavers and estranged young people in education who get income support or income-based jobseekers’ allowance to help them secure and maintain independent living.’

He added: ’Treasury has reviewed the current provision for care leaves and estranged young people in education and is content with them.

’It has no plans to further review them at the present time.’

Onchan MHK Mr Callister became children’s champion in June, taking over from Tim Baker, following his appointment as Infrastructure Minister.

During Chief Minister Howard Quayle’s tenure, the role of the children’s champion has narrowed from the wide-ranging remit that was in place when Garff MHK Daphne Caine was in the position and clashed frequently with the then Education Minister Graham Cregeen.

Now, the role is focussed on representing the interests of children in care, young carers and children with complex needs.

In a separate question, Mr Callister asked Mr Quayle what plans the government had to introduce apprenticeship and bursary payment schemes to help with employment opportunities for children leaving care.

The Chief Minister said there was nothing specific in the pipeline.

’The Department of Education, Sport and Culture provides funding for apprenticeships by paying the course fees for the apprentice and compensating the employer for the day’s work lost by the apprentices attending their training courses and has some bursaries for young people entering into apprenticeships for the provision of tools, etc,’ said Mr Quayle.

’The funds are available to all young people and adults undertaking an apprenticeship but only provide the funding once employment is secured. The department has no plans to change the schemes.’

Mr Callister tabled a raft of Tynwald questions seeking updates on actions on recommendations made in a hard-hitting special report on services for accommodation vulnerable young people.

In most cases, he was told there had been a delay due to the Covid-19 crisis, but now the government was working on the recommendations, including ’collaborative’ approaches where appropriate.

Council of Ministers’ social policy and children’s sub-committee is due to give an update report to Tynwald in November.

The special report, on the need for more and better accommodation for vulnerable young people, painted a shocking picture of at-risk youngsters cast adrift from the care system, with some ending up living with drug dealers and others fearing sex demands from unscrupulous landlords.

It hit out at a lack of leadership from the government on dealing with the problem and called for a better system to support those who leave the care system at 18 – along with better controls on landlords.

The government is proposing to amend the Children and Young Persons’ Act 2001 to address some of the issues, while the Cabinet Office-led homelessness strategy would address others, ministers have said.

In addition, the government says some of the recommendations on accommodation are addressed in the upcoming Landlord Registration Bill.

Source: IoMToday