Norfolk County Council investigates living conditions for care leavers as fresh revelations emerge of squalid conditions
PUBLISHED: 18:14 07 March 2017 | UPDATED: 08:03 08 March 2017
An investigation has been launched into the state of accommodation for vulnerable teenagers leaving care, after fresh revelations about squalid conditions young people were living in.
The issue was first exposed by this newspaper last week when we published photos of homes in a state of disrepair where a company called Sixteen Plus had been paid by Norfolk County Council’s children’s services department to house young people leaving care.
The council said last week they had inspected the homes, where care leavers live with a support worker, and found they were “well maintained”.
But a BBC reporter, who visited a home last week where a care leaver had been placed by Sixteen Plus, found they were living alone in vile conditions.
Electrical fittings were broken, animal excrement was on the floor and there was no bed linen. Rubbish was also piled across the rooms.
The council said it also visited the home last week and care leavers were now no longer placed there.
County Hall said it had looked at the accommodation “urgently” and was now looking at the arrangements for all care leavers living in the Sixteen Plus properties.
Sixteen Plus, which was paid £1.56m last year to house the care leavers, said it was not providing support at the property when the photos were taken.
But the council said Sixteen Plus was paying the rent on the property.
The state of accommodation for care leavers was first brought to the attention of the council’s children’s services department by UKIP councillor Jonathon Childs at the start of February.
He said he was “shocked and deeply worried” by the latest photos.
“A whistleblower had made me aware of this house on January 30 and I passed the information on to children’s services,” he said.
“I understood that houses including the one mentioned were to be inspected. Twenty days later the BBC go to the house and film what I can only describe as conditions that no one should live in.
“We want cast iron assurances that this sorry episode will be totally investigated and the report made public.”
“The council employs many truly wonderful hard working social workers, but something had gone drastically wrong here and the people of Norfolk must not be let down ever again by such issues.”
A spokesperson for Norfolk County Council said: “We agree that young people should not be living in these conditions.
“We have visited 13 of the 19 properties over the last three days and found them all to be safe and clean. We will be inspecting the remaining properties this week, and will then increase the frequency of inspections to weekly for at least the next month so that we are satisfied that the young people are safe, and accommodated to the standard we require and have paid for.
“This is in addition to unannounced inspections that were carried out at several properties last month. These inspections found properties that were well maintained and appropriate for the young people living there.”