A motion calling for young people with experience of being in care to be put on an equal footing with others has been backed by North Ayrshire Council – despite Tory attempts to block it.

Depute leader Shaun Macaulay proposed that care-experienced children should be treated as a protected characteristic in North Ayrshire Council’s equality impact assessments (EIA).

He argued that young people in these situations should have a voice.

The Irvine councillor said: “Every child in Scotland has the right to live a life free of stigma and one which places no barriers on you to reach your full potential.  

“Unfortunately, we know from experience that isn’t the case and rarely happens with children young people who are care-experienced.

“Data tells us that being care-experienced means you face significant  barriers in your life and it negatively impacts your education, relationships, employment and health and well-being, simply by being care-experienced.

"You are more likely to end up in the criminal justice system or end up in poverty.

“We want to ensure councillors look at all the decisions they make through a care-experienced lens.

“We hope councillors can vote to give these young people the best possible start in life and do all we can to help them overcome the barriers they face.

“In other words simply by being care-experienced has an impact on your life through no fault of your own.

“This is an injustice and is unacceptable.

“In North Ayrshire, we have had a good record of protecting children and young people as we saw at the Promise conference last year.

“We have many important roles in council and being  a corporate parent is perhaps the biggest responsibility every single one of us has. This is a transformational approach.”

He agreed if the motion was passed, a report would be brought to cabinet to outline the next steps needed including the EIA.

Councillor Margaret Johnston (SNP, Garnock Valley) said: “Equality impact assessments will recognise care experience as a protected characteristic.

“Every time a new policy is developed we are required to consider what impact it will have on children and young people. This will recognise that care-experienced people are a vulnerable group facing discrimination.”

Tory councillor Matthew McLean (Irvine South) put forward an amendment, noting the motion but asking to delay a decision until a report could be brought to the next full council explaining what the practical effect of this change would have, with reference to care-experienced young people’s outcomes.

He said: “I don’t have any issues with the sentiment of the motion but I want to ascertain how it would lead to better outcomes.  It would entail a review of all policies which the council has. I would like to know what the effects would be and the potential plan of action.”

He called on Councillor Macaulay to accept his amendment, but the depute leader refused, saying he had already compromised by agreeing to bring a report to cabinet rather than council as had originally been suggested.

The motion was passed by 19 votes to nine.