Essex County Council has been accused of hypocrisy after tabling a motion promising to “continue to focus on improving social mobility, increasing levels of aspiration and providing conditions for individuals to fulfil their potential,” while admitting unlawfully turning homeless children away from care.

Cllr Louise McKinlay will be presenting a motion to full council promising it is “committed to ensuring the best outcomes for people across Essex”.

It comes after ECC’s admission that it wrongly said it would not help a 16-year-old girl wanting to live independently unless she went into foster care.

Cllr McKinklay’s motion adds “As we work towards this for our residents, we will continue to focus on improving social mobility, increasing levels of aspiration and providing conditions for individuals to fulfil their potential and benefit from the growing economy and opportunities in our county.

“To achieve this, we understand that hard working people who are just about managing should see the rewards of that hard work and therefore we will continue to adopt a focused and targeted approach.”

The motion then calls on the council leader, cabinet and the council’s partners in local authorities, health, education and business to improve social mobility, increase levels of aspiration and provide conditions for individuals to fulfill their potential.

The case has sparked outcry, with Labour group leader Cllr Ivan Henderson accusing the leadership of grandstanding, despite being challenged over working practices.

He said: “That 16-year-old girl is a prime example about how I see they have been dealing with things across Essex.

“They have got County Lines in their focus, vulnerable people, gang culture and yet they have got some young person to sign off their rights.

“They actually closed the door on her and got that young person to sign their rights away.

“That to me is absolutely disgusting. It is hypocrisy.

“This is nothing against the officers – they are under so much pressure at the moment – but who I am knocking are those portfolio holders who stand up at council holding these trophies up when we’re hearing stories like this.”

A spokesperson for ECC said: “The council has accepted that there was unfortunately a technical error in this case in how we responded to this young person’s needs as we assessed them.

“However, she was provided with accommodation at all times and did receive significant support from the county council. We do not accept that there was a general unlawful practice and there has been no court finding against the council.

“We are however improving the training of our staff to ensure that there is no repetition. In a case such as this we would always apologise. This occurred two years ago in 2017 and since then OFSTED has rated our children’s services ‘Outstanding’.”