SOLIHULL MP Julian Knight has called on the government to ensure children in care are prepared for handling their finances independently – to help them stay away from crime.
He has welcomed the publication of a ‘ground-breaking’ new report into deficient financial education for children in care.
Mr Knight is chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Financial Education for Young People, which has published ‘Care to talk about Money? The Importance of Financial Education for Children in Care’.
It examines how the current system sees thousands of children passing through the care system without being adequately equipped to handle their finances when they become independent, the MP says.
Mr Knight said: “Each year, thousands of young people leave the care system with little or no experience or understanding of how to manage their day to day finances.
“Required to navigate a range of complex requirements and daily tasks such as paying rent, bills, buying household supplies and budgeting for food and transport – often with limited means – they can find themselves unable to cope and can easily get into debt, or – at the worst – at the whim of criminal gangs.
“It is essential that the government takes urgent action to make sure that young people leaving care are equipped with the skills they need to live independently and fulfil their potential, and our report offers ministers a clear set of recommendations for so doing.”
As of March 31 there were more than 75,000 children in care in England, including those in foster placements, children’s homes, semi-independent living arrangements and secure units, Mr Knight says.
He adds young people in the care system need financial skills even more urgently than other children.
As a former personal finance journalist for the Independent and the BBC, Mr Knight says he has seen up-close how individuals and families can suffer for not being equipped with basic financial skills.