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2024 Party Manifestos 

The General Election is coming up and we are looking at what the main political parties have said about the care system in their manifestos against our key asks.

At Become, we know many young people come through the care system and flourish. Many—though not all—have loving, dedicated foster carers or residential workers, and encounter social workers who go the extra mile to fight for the opportunities and support that make all the difference.

But far too many children and young people don’t get the stability, love and support they need to heal and to thrive.

We have a vision of a better care system: one that ensures that all care-experienced people have the same chances as everyone else to live happy, fulfilled lives. We outline this in our manifesto.

We have looked at the main political parties’ manifestos for the General Election in 2024, specifically where they mention the care system. 

The Labour manifesto 

They have pledged:

  • Work with local government to support children in care, including through kinship, foster care, and adoption.
  • Strengthen regulation of the children’s social care sector.

Our response:

The Labour Party has pledged to strengthen regulation in the children social care sector, which is welcome if it addresses the issues of profiteering. We are disappointed to see that Staying Put and Staying Close, which were in Labour’s 2019 manifesto, are not mentioned and that there is no specific commitment for care leavers.  

The Conservative manifesto 

They have pledged:

  • Improve the experiences of children in social care
  • Create more places in children’s homes
  • Prioritise keeping families together where that’s best for the child through the Kinship Care Strategy
  • Support those leaving care with housing, education and employment,
  • Expanding befriending and mentoring programmes for care leavers

Our response:

We welcome the Conservatives pledges of more places in children’s homes and extra support for care leavers – two issues we raise in our own manifesto. However, it’s not clear whether they are new commitments, or those announced previously. There is also no information on how these pledges will be funded at a time when local authorities are already under significant budgetary pressure.  

The Liberal Democrats' manifesto 

They have pledged:

  • Introduce a statutory definition of kinship care.
  • Build on the existing pilot to develop a weekly allowance for all kinship carers.
  • Make care experience a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010
  • Extend Pupil Premium Plus funding to children in kinship care
  • Guarantee any child taken into care a school place within three weeks, if required to move schools.

Our response:

The Liberal Democrats have made a number of pledges around children in care, but they do not address the major issue of the lack of suitable places for children to live, which is leading to children being sent far from everything they know, nor do they help end the care cliff that young people face when they turn 18.  

Read their full manifestos here: The Conservative Manifesto, 2024 (pg 18), The Liberal Democrat Manifesto, 2024 (under ‘Care’), The Labour Manifesto, 2024

“Whilst it is welcome that children in care are mentioned in the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrats’ manifestos, all parties fall significantly short of the reforms needed to address the huge challenges children’s social care is facing. Without investment and a clear plan, the care system will remain in crisis and the experiences of care-experienced children and young people won’t improve.

We have a record number of children in care in England – now at nearly 84,000 – and not enough safe, stable and suitable places where they can live. That means too many children are being moved miles from everything they know, sometimes as far as 500 miles away.

The next Government must act urgently to increase the supply of suitable residential and foster homes across the country, ensuring children can stay close to the people and places that matter to them, and to end the care cliff, the expectation for young people to leave care at 18 and become independent overnight.

Young people’s voices must be at the heart of these reforms and the next Government should be aspiring to give every child the love, care and stability they need.”

– Katharine Sacks-Jones, our Chief Exec

These manifestos do not go far enough to urgently reform the care system

We have 5 main asks in our manifesto: Time to Show We Care

  1. Urgently reform the care system so every child has the love, care and stability they need.
  2. Make children’s relationships a key consideration in all decisions.
  3. End the care cliff so young people can make a positive start to adulthood.
  4. Improve the support provided to children and young people by other public services.
  5. Put young people’s voices at the heart of the care system.

More than 80 care-experienced young people have supported our manifesto asks and signed our open letter. Read the full letter.

1. Urgently reform the care system so every child has the love, care and stability they need.

The next Government must:

  • Invest in and develop a national strategy to increase the supply of residential and foster care and address the issue of profiteering in the provision of children’s social care
  • Commit to stop children being placed miles from home (unless in their best interests)
  • Strengthen accountability by reporting on and monitoring sufficiency locally and nationally

2. Make children’s relationships a key consideration in all decisions

The next Government must:

  • Make relationships a key consideration in decisions: including with birth families, former foster and other carers, friends and trusted adults
  • Prevent children being separated from siblings (except in exceptional circumstances): give contact with siblings the same priority as with birth parents in law and guidance

3. End the care cliff so young people can make a positive start to adulthood.

The next Government must:

  • Guarantee that all children receive care up to 18
  • Make Staying Put and Staying Close schemes fully funded, opt-out legal entitlements for all young people in care up to 25, so young people can stay in their homes or connected to support, with the option to return to care if they have left and things don’t work out
  • Tackle homelessness amongst young care leavers: amend legislation to make all care leavers up to 25 ‘priority need’ under homelessness legislation, remove the local connection and homelessness intentionality rules for care leavers, and introduce tenancy deposit and guarantor schemes in all areas
  • Improve financial support to young people leaving care: extend the over-25 rate of universal credit to care leavers, increase financial entitlements with inflation and exempt care leavers from council tax
  • Strengthen the role of Personal Advisers to improve the support provided to young people, including by introducing standardised training, development & qualifications

4. Improve the support provided to children and young people by other public services.

The next Government must:

  • Legislate to extend corporate parenting responsibilities across the public sector
  • Improve access to and funding of high-quality and trauma-informed Mental Health Services for all care-experienced young people
  • Introduce mandatory training for health, education, immigration and law enforcement professionals around the needs of children in care, including an understanding of childhood trauma
  • Ensure no care-experienced young people in or leaving custodial settings is forgotten by their home local authority – there must be regular contact with children’s services and early help with resettlement
  • Guarantee all children in care receive full-time, quality education in a school most suited to their needs

5. Put young people’s voices at the heart of the care system.

The next Government must:

  • Listen to care-experienced children and young people before, during and after making decisions about reform and ensure young people have ways to hold Government to account
  • Guarantee the right to advocacy: roll-out independent ‘opt-out’ advocacy to all care-experienced children and young people to age 25

Join us in changing the care system

Party manifestos

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