Teenage care leaver’s life put ‘on hold’ as council fails to obtain passport – report

A teenage care leaver was left unable to secure a job after Manchester City Council failed to obtain him a passport, a new report shows.

The 18-year-old, who was put into local authority care in 2013, said his life had been put “on hold” and feared for his residency status in the country.

Manchester City Council has since had to pay the teenager, known only as Marcus, £1,600 for his “avoidable distress” which caused him to lose three job opportunities.

His case is one of several highlighted by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman in a report showing instances where children in care have been “let down” by councils.

The watchdog upheld Marcus’s complaint – made in 2018 – against the local authority noting that he was “reliant on the council to safeguard his welfare”.

In its decision in May this year, the ombudsman said that despite the council having seven years to provide him with identity documents and a passport, the issue remained unresolved.

In another case that was widely reported at the time, Cornwall Council was forced to pay a teenager £2,500 after it placed him in a tent while he was homeless in 2016.

The council initially offered the vulnerable 17-year-old, referred to as Billy, accommodation “a long way” from where he normally lived which he refused.

“Rather than consider whether it should accommodate Billy nearer, the council gave him a tent,” the report said.

The local authority at one point supplied him with a new tent after the first broke, before placing him in a static caravan and then in supported accommodation two months later, the report added.

Billy’s mental and physical health had “seriously deteriorated during his ordeal” and he was later detained under the mental health act, where he remained for nearly a year, the report said.

The ombudsman said that the council had “seriously failed” the teenager by not offering him suitable accommodation.

Local government and social care ombudsman Michael King (pictured) said: “Each case highlighted in this report is a case too many and reflects the real-life experiences of some of the most vulnerable in our society.

“While these cases reflect a time before the Covid-19 pandemic, we know the system is under even more pressure today.

“Although the councils’ actions in these cases were disappointing, we want to drive home the importance of learning from mistakes. In doing so this can help avoid repetitions and improve the lives and opportunities for all children in care.”

Children who cannot be cared for by their parents and become the responsibility of their local authority are some of the most vulnerable in society.

The ombudsman said 28% more children were in care in 2019 than a decade earlier.

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