Local Authority Engagement
At the heart of the Care Leaver Covenant is close collaboration with local authorities who are statutorily responsible for the wellbeing of our care leavers.
Whole Council Approach
‘Whole Council Approach’ is the strategic idea that responsibility for being a corporate parent sits across the whole council and not only with those people and departments that have ‘care leaver’ in their job descriptions.
We launched the Whole Council Approach at the SOLACE Conference in 2019. Some of the key tenets are below and you can view the full strategy document here.
Get involved and collaborate with the Covenant.
We would encourage all local authorities to adopt as many elements of the strategy as possible to support their care leavers in the best way possible.
As a minimum we ask that all LAs act on Point 1 below, which involves raising awareness of the Covenant with all staff who work with care leavers and with care leavers themselves. In particular encouragement to sign up to Connects and download the and the free Covenant App: Apple App Store | Google Play Store.
The 5 Part Strategy
01. Raising Awareness of the Covenant
Personal advisers have a role in providing support for care leavers until they are 25.
Many local authorities have realised that it is important to be proactive in reaching out to care leavers to make sure that they are fully aware of the local offer.
NOTE: All care leaver opportunities are also listed here, on our website.
02. Council Tax Exemption
A very direct way in which many councils (over 50 per cent) have sought to help care leavers.
Helping them to live independently is to recognise their vulnerability by offering council tax exemptions up to the age of 25.
Given the financial constraints on councils this may be difficult for all councils to offer
Nevertheless, it remains a powerful means of supporting care leavers in gaining the financial stability which underpins successful independent living.
All local authorities, as good corporate parents, are encouraged to follow the lead of many in offering council tax exemptions to all care leavers up to the age of 25.
Wolverhampton City Council, like a growing number of Councils, has taken the bold step to exempt all care leavers from Council Tax up to aged 25.
03. Training and Employment Opportunities
The national picture is that only 52% of care leavers are in education, employment or training (EET).
Local authorities remain major employers in their area. They also work with SMEs to provide services, not least in maintaining the housing stock. Local authorities could be ambitious and aspire to helping 70-80% of care leavers to participate in EET.
One simple way that local authorities can improve their care leavers’ EET rate is to provide supported opportunities in the Council.
For example, a dimension to Warwickshire County Council’s Local Offer has been to ring-fence apprenticeships for care leavers within the Council.
They currently have eight of their young people either working or about to start work within the Leaving Care Team, Participation Service and transformation team, including one young person who was an unaccompanied asylum-seeking child.
The purpose of the Covenant is to promote new opportunities for care leavers including the opportunity to gain work experience through internships. Internships vary greatly in duration, remuneration and progression opportunities
- Duration – they should last for a minimum of 12 weeks;
- Paid – they should ideally match, or exceed, the ‘living wage’ for the area;
- Support – they should involve some additional support measures, in particular, a mentor or workplace coach;
- Certified – they should have certification attached to the skills acquired;
- Progression – they should have the opportunity for progression into a real job opportunity, such as a guaranteed interview.
04. Social Value Policy
Under section 106 of the 1990 Town & Country Planning Act, agreements can be struck between developers and local authorities which are attached to planning permission.
Public procurement can thus be used to secure social value. Under the Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012 (SVA) local authorities can consider social value as a criterion when judging tenders for services.
In principle, local authorities could write in the requirement to offer internships to care leavers when making public sector contracts over £100,000.
In the National Social Value Themes Outcomes & Measures (TOMS) Framework 2018, a principal theme is promoting skills and meaningful employment.
Proxy values are attached to social value benefits such as new posts, weeks of apprenticeships and work placements. Spectra has supported two champion local authorities in reviewing and redrafting their social-value procurement rules to provide a new focus on care leavers.
Spectra is also working with ENGIE, a major national provider of services to local authorities, to develop a coordinated strategy for internships to form part of procurement.
Local authorities could revise their Social Value Policy to ensure that meaningful offers of work, apprenticeship, internships and work experience for care leavers are a standard part of procurement practices.
To support this element of the strategy we have worked with Trowers and Hamlins Solicitors, leaders in the local government procurement space to develop a toolkit which Local Authorities can use to help them achieve this.
Introducing the Social Value Toolkit
To include their executive officers, social services, community investment, health, housing, corporate services and their procurement teams in the creation of social value objectives, many of which can be aligned with the core outputs of the Care Leaver Covenant, and which can be secured through their procurement processes.
In particular, the toolkit seeks to provide guidance and example wording which councils can use and adapt to encourage bidders to incorporate social value initiatives into their bids which will help to achieve the core outcomes of the Care Leaver Covenant.
05. Economic Development
Many local authorities have established significant relationships with SMEs in order to enhance economic growth.
For example, the City of Wolverhampton has relationships with 300 SMEs.
Cheshire has promoted their relationship with 65 SMEs willing to provide meaningful offers to the care-leaver population.
Leeds City Council has an annual week focused on employer engagement, coupled with a comprehensive strategy.
There appears to be a willingness in local companies to support care-experienced and other disadvantaged groups in their local community.
Care leaving teams can work closely with regeneration and community development colleagues in the local authority to bring their local businesses into the ‘corporate family’.
Local authorities could…
Local authorities could work with SMEs, local employer groups and other partners.
All to set, and meet, ambitious targets to increase the number, range and take up of EET opportunities for care leavers.
Local authorities could host annual, social-value events for local businesses aimed (in part) at connecting them to the mission of the Care Leaver Covenant and creating an increased number of ‘offers’ to care leavers.
Our Strategic partners
As our strategy involves a whole council approach, we are pleased that SOLACE is a key partner, engaging councils at Chief Executive level is key to drawing in all elements of the council and ensuring accountability.
Local Government Association
We continue to work with the LGA to engage Local Authorities at members level and appear in their updated guide for Lead members responsible for Care leavers outlining the main points of the strategy and how Lead members can ensure accountability.
Trowers & Hamlins
Trowers & Hamlins are Covenant signatories and our legal procurement specialists. They brought their expertise to co-authoring the Social Value Toolkit with us. Trowers are also represented on both our Advisory Board and Business Council
Social Value Portal
To further our ambitions around social value procurement we have successfully lobbied and worked with the Social Value Portal to ensure that Care Leavers are recognised as a separate beneficiary category within in their Themes, Outcomes and Measures (TOMs).
Our Trailblazer Local Authorities
At the heart of the Care Leaver Covenant is close collaboration with with local authorities, who are statutorily responsible for the wellbeing of our Care Leavers.
Following the launch of the Whole Council Approach with SOLACE , seventeen Chief Executives put their authorities forward and subsequently sent a representative to the Social Value Toolkit launch.
We are now looking to work with these local authorities to implement all areas of the Whole Council Approach, with particular focus on Point 4 (above) relating to social value policy: ascertaining what meaningful offers can be secured via contractual arrangements.
Get Involved and Collaborate with the Covenant.
We would encourage all local authorities to fully adopt the Whole Council Approach to support their care leavers in the best way possible.
As a minimum we ask that all LAs act on Point 1 above, which involves raising awareness of the Covenant with all staff who work with care leavers and with care leavers themselves. In particular encouragement to sign up to Connects and download the and the free Covenant App: Apple App Store | Google Play Store.