COUNCIL staff who continued to support young people throughout lockdown have been praised by children’s services executive director Theresa Leavy.

She said that they had performed ‘incredible work’ keeping in contact and supporting the majority of the 265 18-15 year-olds the council has a responsibility for.

Ms Leavy said the success rate was partially due to a long-serving professional and stable team who had developed good relationships over the year with those they supported.

But she said there were concerns about the cohort of young people, many of which had come from foster care – with more than half of them not in employment, education or training and 16 of them staying in accommodation which was considered ‘unsuitable,’ including bed and breakfast.

The meeting heard that some of the group may shortly be offered flats at a facility for care leavers being developed in Weymouth.

Cllr Andrew Kerby called on the council to pin down which B&B accommodation was suitable for youngster and which was not – but was told that housing staff at the council were cautious about which they selected and that many of the young people preferred B&B to the responsibility of a rented property.

“I would never put my child in a B&B so why would we do that as a corporate parent?

“Let’s be brave and treat them as we might our own children and do everything we can to get them a home,” he said.

A report before the panel said that Covid has resulted in a delay in finding suitable accommodation with an increase in rent levels now being charged by those landlords who are still offering spaces.

“Affordability is a key issue as benefit housing element rates have not kept pace with rent costs which landlords can charge in the current private rental market. Supply and demand has driven costs up. Letting agent’s fees are also prohibitive. An additional risk is that the private rental sector has no security of tenure and landlords are at liberty to end tenancies when they want their properties back,” said the report.