On Wednesday 9th March 22 we held our third, and second online, Staf Summit, which focused on how we can secure the financial wellbeing of care leavers in Scotland. Here you will find snapshots of each session including presentations and useful links.

Opening remarks: Jo Derrick, Staf CEO

Jo opened the Summit by setting the context for the event. Highlighting that for far too many young people leaving care it was a move from care to poverty. She remarked on the feedback from young care leavers was there were currently 'too many hoops' when it came to accessing financial support and the notion that they were 'surviving rather than living'. She also acknowledged that financial support on its own is not enough, and that wrap around support should be at the heart of any policy. 

Keynote Address: Clare Haughey MSP, Minister for Children and Young People 

We then heard from Claire Haughey who outlined current policies which are focused on financial security for care leavers, including the Care Leavers Bursary and the forthcoming Care Leavers Grant of £200 per year as outlined in the Programme for Government. She then went on to discuss the Minimum Income Guarantee which has cross party support and is currently being worked on by an expert group. 

Useful Links
Programme For Government 

Session 1: SallyAnn Kelly, Aberlour CEO and Chair of Staf 

At this session SallyAnn followed on from Jo's opening with a call to arms "It cannot be beyond our wit to stand up for their rights. In fact, it should be our duty" and commented on the importance of financial security to aid recovery from earlier trauma. She discussed the work we, and Aberlour have been doing to promote a Minimum Income Pilot for care leavers which she said the Welsh Government had set the tone for and revealed a groundswell of support for in Scotland. She spoke passionately about the fact that we are not talking about a large group of people requiring support, "a tiny wee spec of a drop in the ocean" and that "If were bold enough to remove children from their families, then we should be bold enough to provide financial security for them too". 

Useful links:
Each and Every Child: Reframing the narrative on care experience
CPAG and Staf: Giving Good Advice
Falkirk City Council Protocol 

Session 2: Jamie Cooke, Head of RSA Scotland 

Jamie Cooke is an expert on Basic Incomes and in this session spoke about what a Basic Income is and how its universality was essential to ensuring there is no stigma and that its unconditional nature meant people were empowered and trusted to make spending choices. "If you put trust in people you get that trust back". He spoke about how the Covid-19 pandemic had exacerbated the already precarious nature of so many people's lives and that conversations around Basic Incomes were now more than just theory. He shared examples of successful basic income pilots around the world in Santa Clara, Ontario, Finland, Australia and New Zealand and of course, the recently announced Welsh Government pilot for care leavers. He closed by saying there was an opportunity for real change in Scotland. 

Useful links:
Humans of Basic Income
Basic Income Congress
Santa Clara Basic Income for Care Leavers 
Minimum Income Standard Model

Session 3: Jimmy Paul, Director of Wellbeing Economy Alliance Scotland 

Jimmy's presentation spoke about the need for systemic change in our society and the issue of 'Failure Demand' whereby in our current economy we are "caught in a cycle of fixing things that we break" and that the so called solutions to issues such as poverty were so far ineffective. He stated he was a 'fair-weather friend' of GDP, rather than a 'faithful follower' and how for many organisations we are working towards obsolescence if we get things right. He spoke of the four Ps; Purpose, Prevention, Pre-distribution (i.e a basic income) and People Powered (meaningful participation). He ended by saying we all need to be a 'fantastic parent to children in care' and working to remove arbitrary age limits which lead to care cliff edges. 'Sticks in a bundle are harder to break'. 

Useful links:
Love Inc 
Follow the Money: Independent Care Review
WEALL Failure Demand Report
Suggested Reading:
Hillary Cottam: Radical Help

After lunch our session focused on current practice when it comes to supporting care leavers being financially secure. 

Session 4a: Tommy McDade (Barnardos Scotland) and Tony Scally (Action for Children) Discovering Your Potential

Tommy and Tony presented on Discovering Your Potential, an employment programme delivered as part of the Scottish Government's Youth Guarantee. The scheme reflects not just on employability but on broader issues as they acknowledge "lives are not linear" with a bespoke, needs led action plan for each young person. They are proponents of the idea of a 'no wrong door' and that each person's journey will be different. Relationship based practice was seen to be essential as was holistic support, leading to positive outcomes for the majority of those who take part. 

Useful links:
Staf's Care Leavers Into Employment Focus Group

Session 4b: Zoe Renton & Kevin Duffy, Money and Pensions Service 

Next up, we were joined by Zoe and Kevin from the Money and Pension Service, a free, online source of support for those looking for money advice. They discussed the Money Helper, which provides strategies for financial wellbeing and the imminent Delivery Plan for Scotland. In particular reference to young people, they can support them develop money skills and the soon to be published Local Authority Wellbeing Guides will be a great resource for workers supporting young people leaving care. 

Useful links:
Money Helper
Money Guiders 

Session 4c: Adam Jones, Welsh Government

Following the Welsh Government's recent announcement on its care leavers basic income pilot, we were delighted to be joined by Adam Jones who is part of the policies implementation team. Adam discussed basic income will be, £1600 per month, paid to care leavers for two years from the age of 18 - 20. He shared that the £1600 figure was based on the current cost of living estimates and noted that as yet, there was no set date to begin. Similarly to Staf and Aberlour's pilot research, the views of care experienced people have been and will be fundamental to the policy. He noted that in some instances young people may be better off not accepting the income as it could negatively impact on other benefits being received. We will certainly watch with interest. 

Useful links: 

Session 4d: UBI Roundtable recording and input from Chris Marshall 

In our final section we shared a recording of a roundtable discussion held last September with various partners and those with care experience about the idea of Universal Basic Income for care leavers. Again we heard about the cliff edge many young people face and the idea of surviving rather than living. We also heard about concerns over the impact of such a policy on existing benefits.

Our day concluded with feedback from Chris Marshall, a regular contributor and friend of Staf who shared his own views on a Guaranteed Income for care leavers 

"it is not about the money... it's about helping people thrive... it's about being able to do the simple things in life." 

If you would like more information about the Guaranteed Income pilot or would like to be involved please email [email protected] 

Delegate feedback

"Thank you that was most thought provoking"

"Thanks for some great discussion"

"Provoking more thoughts for different actions I can make for supporting staff to make changes in their support of young people"

"Thank you so much. Great event :)"

"Thank You some interesting topics and discussions, hopefully we can take this back to our teams and link into some off the links that have been shared that will update us on practice across the LA,s."