Nuneaton Telegraph - - FRONT PAGE -

to fol­low suit and I’m call­ing on other ma­jor em­ploy­ers in our city who have their head of­fices based here, as ul­ti­mately these are our Coven­try chil­dren, and with the in­tro­duc­tion of the ap­pren­tice­ship levy, em­ploy­ers are busy de­vel­op­ing their ap­pren­tice­ship schemes, but how many are al­lo­cat­ing ap­pren­tices specif­i­cally for care leavers and how are em­ploy­ers across the city work­ing to­gether to en­sure the ap­pren­tice­ship levy isn’t just go­ing into the Trea­sury as a tax.

“For me the real strength of any so­ci­ety is to give a help­ing hand, and the great­est wealth and strength of any city is its youth, which is one of the main rea­sons as to why we won the City of Cul­ture.

“We know our chil­dren have been pre­sented with a poor start in early life and we have to pos­i­tively dis­crim­i­nate to cre­ate the pen­du­lum ef­fect if we’re ever to re­dress the bal­ance.

“So, for ex­am­ple, we as a coun­cil took the de­ci­sion to ex­empt care leavers from pay­ing coun­cil tax be­tween the ages of 18 to 21 be­cause we know care leavers are gen­er­ally more eco­nom­i­cally dis­ad­van­taged.”

The county’s fig­ures are sim­i­lar to those in Coven­try with just 70 of the 700 young­sters in care across War­wick­shire (10 per cent) set to be adopted.

A con­vic­tion or caution for a crime will come to four per cent of chil­dren in care, while just one per cent of all chil­dren in War­wick­shire were proven to have com­mit­ted an of­fence.

It is also grim read­ing for those leav­ing care with 38 per cent of 17 or 18-year-olds not in ed­u­ca­tion, train­ing or em­ploy­ment, while that num­ber rises to 53 per cent for those aged 19-21.

Beth Mur­ray, di­rec­tor of Catch22 – a na­tional char­ity that works with care leavers and young of­fend­ers – said: “Chil­dren in care in the West Mid­lands are not twice as likely to com­mit a crime, but they may well be twice as likely to be re­ported for one.

“A child that breaks a win­dow in their fam­ily home might ex­pect to be grounded, or have their pocket money docked.

“A child in a chil­dren’s home could see this re­ported to the po­lice as dam­age to prop­erty. Once a child is on the po­lice radar, any fur­ther in­ci­dents are dealt with more se­verely.”

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