Age limit for leaving care too low

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The convener of the Equal Opportunities Committee Mary Fee led a debate on young people and homelessness saying the age limit for leaving care was too low, on 28 May 2013.

The Equal Opportunities Committee report found that leaving care can be a "very abrupt" experience for young people and can result in them being left alone in "utterly unacceptable, substandard" accommodation.

It found that aspects of the care system are "increasing the likelihood" that youngsters will become homeless.

Ms Fee told MSPs she agreed with witnesses who said 16 and 17 years old was "too young to leave the care system" and the age limit should be 18 and stressed that the levels of support available for young people were also a concern.

Housing Minister Margaret Burgess said tackling youth homelessness is a priority, with young people making up a third of all homeless people.

Ms Burgess sais: "The Scottish Parliament's historic 2012 homelessness commitment has now been met, which means all unintentionally homeless people are now entitled to settled accommodation.

"We are keen to continue our focus on the prevention of homelessness, and the housing options approach to prevention.

"Addressing homelessness among young people is an important part of it."

Labour MSP Elaine Murray said a different approach was needed, while Conservative MSP Alex Johnstone said the report was a "wake-up call" for the Scottish government.

Ms Murray said: "Overall we continue to fail these young people leaving care with regard to their future life chances."

The second part of the debate can be viewed below:

Homeless young people debate 2

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