Proposal for being in care to become a protected characteristic at North Northamptonshire Council

Children and families

10 August 2023

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A report before North Northamptonshire Council’s Executive will propose the authority treats being in care as a protected characteristic to help reduce barriers to those individuals.

Recommendations to be discussed next week outline how the authority would take the needs of those who have had a care experience into account in all future policy and decision making.

If the Executive agree to the recommendations the proposals would then be taken to Full Council for ratification.

National data suggests that being in care can be a disadvantage:

  • 41% of care experienced young people aged 19 to 21 are not in education, employment or training (NEET), compared with the national average of 12%
  • 13% of care experienced young people are in higher education by their 19th birthday, compared to 45% in the wider population
  • 25% of all homeless people are thought to be care experienced
  • Almost 25% of adult prison population have previously been in care
  • Nearly 50% of under 21-year-olds in contact with the criminal justice system have spent time in care

If adopted as a protected characteristic, having been in care would join the existing characteristics under the equalities act, which are: age; disability; gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity; race; religion or belief; sex and sexual orientation, marriage and civil partnership.

Extending the definition of protected characteristics also places a duty on the Council to include details about care experience in the annual publication of information relating to people who share a protected characteristic in services and employment. 

This will include a requirement to undertake Equality Impact Assessments that explicitly considers the needs of this cohort of people.

This will enable the Council to measure and monitor the impact of services and policy decisions on this group more meaningfully.

The national data is very compelling - it shows that having been in care can present a significant barrier to people and they can face unfair discrimination.

As corporate parents it’s essential that we do what we can to improve peoples’ life chances, so enshrining care experience in our policy-making is essential.
Cllr Scott Edwards, the Council’s Executive member for Children, Families, Education and Skills
We need to do whatever we can to improve life chances for all our residents and to bring down barriers that can stop people reaching their full potential.

This proposal marks a positive step forward.
Cllr Jason Smithers, Leader of the Council