§ Mr. Webb
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the number of children leaving local authority care homes that go on to claim social security benefits in the last year for which figures are available; and what recent research his Department has published into the number of children leaving local authority care homes that go on to claim social security benefits. 814W
§ Maria Eagle
Under the Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000, local authorities have a duty to assess and meet the needs of young people aged 16 and 17 who they continue to look after or who have left care. Income-related benefits are therefore not available to these young people. However, other benefits intended to meet a person's special needs, such as non-contributory Incapacity Benefit, may be available. Once they reach 18, care leavers are eligible to claim benefits in the normal way, and in general, the local authority no longer has the major responsibility for their welfare.
The Department holds no data, nor have we published any recent research, on the number of children leaving local authority care homes who go on to claim social security benefits.
Following the introduction of the Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000, the Department of Health has commissioned the University of York to conduct an evaluation of the costs and outcomes of young people leaving care. The evaluation report is due early in 2004.