One care leaver, the panel heard yesterday, who got into university faces an issue coming back to the Island in between term time due to benefit rules around funding student accommodation and their Andium Homes accommodation at the same time.
The individual was described as a ‘victim of bureaucracy’ by Children, Education and Home Affairs Scrutiny Panel chairman Deputy Rob Ward.
Director of children’s safeguarding and care Mark Owers said the young person had done ‘remarkably well under difficult circumstances to secure a place on a degree course and we should be supporting them 100%’, but funding the accommodation simultaneously was a ‘problem for us at the moment’ due to housing stock and people on the waiting list.
Mr Owers said: ‘It is clear that there are some legislative obstacles.’
He added that they were preparing work for Assistant Education Minister Scott Wickenden to bring forward.
‘As the pandemic has very clearly shown, young people need to be able to come home from university and they deserve a home,’ said Mr Owers. ‘The way in which our benefits system is set up at the moment, we can’t have an Andium flat empty and so we need to work creatively around that.’
The Children’s, Young Persons, Education and Skills Department was able to authorise the funding and pay for both, he said, but could not provide a benefit. The current way of making the transaction was a ‘clunky way of trying to support some of our most vulnerable people’, he said.
Potential changes to the law could be brought in to deal with the problem.
Deputy Ward said: ‘The last thing we want is for someone to miss an opportunity to really build their lives because of some nonsensical bureaucratic issue, which needs to be solved.’
Deputy Wickenden said he wanted to bring Customer and Local Services and Andium together to attempt to solve the issue. ‘We need to break past the bureaucracy,’ he said. ‘It’s not good enough.’