MSP calls for race-style protected status for those who have been in care

Alex Cole-Hamilton

An MSP has called for people who have been in care to be given the same legal protections as those designed to combat race and sex discrimination.

Liberal Democrat MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton says making experience of the care system a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010 should be considered.

The legislation prohibits discrimination against anyone based on features such as age, disability, gender reassignment and religion.

Mr Cole-Hamilton said the life chances of those who have been in care are “demonstrably the worst of nearly any demographic in the country”.

“We could send a clear message about our commitment to care-experienced young people by treating them in the same way we treat other protected characteristics in an equalities  context,” he added.

Despite the list of protected characteristics being reserved to Westminster, the Lib Dems says Holyrood has powers to extend similar measures to other groups that are not specified in the UK legislation.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said:  “We have already taken decisive action to ensure care experienced young people get the support they need.

“Looked after children are automatically entitled to support with their learning unless assessed otherwise by an education authority and we have committed to ensuring every member of professions working with children are trained on attachment, child development and child protection.”

She added there is evidence that life outcomes for care-experienced people is improving, such as a narrowing attainment gap.