The Leaving Care Team is committed to offering you support, advice and assistance. Accommodation is one aspect of the advice and support we offer, and we know our young people benefit if there is a range of options on offer.
Most young people in care will be living with a foster family, a family member, or sometimes other arrangements. When your social worker starts to write your Pathway plan at aged 15 ½, they will ask you to start to think about where you might wish to live in the future. This does not mean you will have to move but that we have begun to talk about all the housing options available so in time you can be supported to make the best possible decision.
Care leavers become ‘adults’ at the age of 18, and in most cases this will mean being responsible for paying your own rent at that age. Your Social worker/ Personal Advisor will give you information on the different types of accommodation available. Listed below are different types of housing for young people, which may be available as part of your independence.
This is where a young person’s foster carer is able to offer the choice of staying on in the foster home after the age of 18. This is called a ‘staying put’ arrangement. If you are in a foster placement now and wish to find out more you should speak to your social worker. It may not always be possible to remain with your foster carer as everyone’s circumstances are different but it is always worth exploring (Staying Put policy).
Semi-independent accommodation is usually a shared house with other young people. You will always have your own room, and sometimes share some facilities with other young people. Each house may have its own key worker to help you with things like getting yourself registered with GP, dentist, opticians etc. They will help with budgeting and helping you to shop to get the best value for the money that you have. The key worker will do this whilst working with your Social Worker / Personal Advisor to develop your independent living skills. If you need extra support this can be planned with your Social Worker/ Personal Advisor and put in place. You will need to claim housing benefit to help cover the cost of the accommodation or if you are working make a weekly contribution to the rent.
Conventional Supported Housing via the Supported Housing Panel
Conventional Supported Housing provides support services and housing which are provided as an integrated package. The schemes we use are usually short-term, designed to help people develop the emotional and practical skills needed to move into more mainstream housing. Examples of mainstream providers we use are The YMCA and Stanier Housing. Stanier Housing also offers its own set of transition accommodation, The Mallards, which is for young people who do not need the intensive support provided in the main scheme but are not quite ready for full independence.
Specialist Supported Housing
Rosemead Supported Housing, also accessed via the supported Housing Panel. The same as Conventional Supported Housing but is geared towards the rehabilitation of offenders.
Specialist Mental Health Supported Housing
Accessed via the supported Housing Panel. The same as conventional supported housing but geared towards supporting people with Mental Health issues.
Mother and Baby Units
Supported housing for young mums in need of additional parenting support. Young mothers are provided with a safe and stable environment at a critical time in their lives which creates a caring, loving home for their child with whilst developing their own life skills with one-to-one support from a dedicate support worker.
The Housing Register
Care Leavers qualify for ‘Band A’ status which means a priority status is allowing them to bid on a council flat. The preferred route for our young people is via supported Housing Panel as this further helps them develop the necessary skills for living independently. You can then be referred to the housing register for your own independent flat when your personal advisor is confident that you are ready to move into independent living. We supply a leaving care grant to help you set up home and provide practical support to get them settled in.
Private Sector Housing (Including Out Of Area)
This is generally not a preferred option as a landlord will request a guarantor (possibly a family member who is a home owner and who agrees to pay the rent if you can’t afford to do so), a deposit and usually at least one months’ rent in advance. Many landlords will not accept Housing Benefit and therefore will only accept tenants who are working full time.
Care Leavers in need of Emergency Housing
We can refer you to Southend Borough Council Housing Options who have a duty to provide hostel accommodation especially where for whatever reasons you have been made homeless and you are in need of immediate accommodation.
HARP – Night Shelter
This is essentially the last resort for young people who have exhausted all other possibilities and have been assessed by Housing Options as being intentionally homeless. They have properties and staff dedicated to helping you to build up your confidence, improve your education and prepare for independent living. The services on offer are:
- budgeting courses
- vocational courses
- employment training
- sports training
- benefits advice
- counselling sessions
Private Providers – Crash Pad
This service is commissioned by the Leaving Care Team for young people that are 18+ years of age and are Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children (UASC) with no recourse to public funds. We have partnered with the YMCA and Stanier House to provide high quality supported housing for those with no recourse to public funds. When a UASC is granted their refugee status they will then qualify for the above housing options.
How will I pay my rent and bills?
Whilst you are still looked after, your Social Worker / Personal Advisor will make all the arrangements for your accommodation and costs. When you reach the age of 18, you will be responsible for paying all or part of your rent from your income. This is a significant change for all young people, but your Social Worker / Personal Advisor will help you to plan to do this and make sure you have made the best use of your income in order to manage.
If you are receiving a salary either through work or through apprenticeship, at 18, you will need to pay all or part of your rent from this income. However, you may be eligible to get help from housing benefit. You will have to make an application to the local council to get this. You can receive lots of help and support to do this.
If you are receiving Job Seekers Allowances, Income Support, Employment Support Allowance or Universal Credit you can also get Housing Benefit to pay all of your rent. If you are in a Staying Put arrangement after the age of 18 you will be expected to claim any benefits that you are entitled to in the same way as other young people.
If you are seeking asylum you may be able to claim benefits in the same way, but if you are not eligible, the Leaving Care Team will continue to pay your rent and provide you with money to live on while you wait for a decision from the Home Office. For some young people these allowances may eventually be paid for by another service. Dependent on your circumstances you may be responsible for bills, but this will be set out in your pathway plan.
What happens when I move to my own flat?
Once you sign your Tenancy Agreement the rent and bills will become your responsibility. You will be required to contact each Utility service to inform them you are the new tenant and to discuss the different ways of paying your bills (Direct Debit every month, key meter etc.). It will be down to you to establish the pro’s and con’s for the different services but we will ensure that you receive the necessary support to cover all aspects of this so you feel informed.
In most accommodations you will be responsible for paying:
- council Tax
- TV Licence
Things to consider and talk to your Personal Advisor about:
- would you manage your electric better if you are on a key meter / pay as you go?
- would it be more cost effective to send your electric/gas meter readings to your supplier every month and set up a direct debit to ensure your bills are always paid?
- would it be more effective if a water meter was installed in your property?
Setting up Home Allowance
How will I furnish my flat?
If you are a Care Leaver moving into your own home, you may be able to access money to help you buy the things you need from the setting up home allowance.
- up to £2000 depending on your needs
What is the allowance used for?
- essential items are the priority and should be purchased first. This includes bed, mattress, cooker a fridge and kitchen equipment
- other items which are necessary to furnish your home e.g. sofa, table, wardrobe, television
The allowance cannot be used for food, rent or to pay debts. It also cannot be used to purchase non-essential technology such as games console. You can access the allowance once you have identified your property and signed your tenancy agreement. Please speak to your Social Worker or Personal Advisor for more information about how this allowance is paid.
What if I don’t pay my bills?
It is really important that you keep up with your rent payments/water charges/surcharges or services charges as failure to do so will lead to eviction. You can get help to manage all of these aspects from your personal advisor and if you received your flat through the Housing Panel you can get additional support from your housing officer. We will work closely with you to problem solve and help you to manage and ensure you have information to make the right decisions, but we do rely on you to tell us and let us know when you are struggling or facing a problem.
What money will I live on?
At aged 15 and 17 you will mostly likely be living in local authority funded accommodation i.e. foster care and there you will receive a personal allowance from your foster carer or subsistence if living in semi-independence.
If you are under aged 18 and a parent looking after your own child, then you may be able to receive an income from the benefits agency. This additional benefit will continue after you turn 18. Please consult your Social Worker / Personal Advisor.
If you stay on at school or college after year 11 on a course involving 12 hours or more (and are aged 16-19), you can obtain a 16-19 bursary payment through your college if your attendance is good. You will also be eligible for a student travel pass. Please get further advice from your Social Worker / Personal Advisor as it is important you ensure you are receiving what you are entitled.
When you turn 18, the local authority will stop providing you with subsistence or personal allowance as you will become eligible to apply for benefits. You will be helped to make a benefit claim at least one month before your birthday if you are not working or on a paid apprenticeship. You will be booked in to see a Jobcentre Advisor who specifically supports care leavers to claim either Job Seekers Allowance (JSA), Income Support or Employment & Support Allowance (ESA) or Universal Credit depending on your personal circumstances. She will also help you to make a claim for Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support/Reduction to help pay towards the cost of your accommodation and council tax bill.
They can also help you with:
- filling out forms
- give you advice on what’s the best benefit to claim for your personal circumstances
- help you find a job or apprenticeship
- contacting benefits agency on your behalf
If you are entitled to claim any form of benefits it is very important you do so in order without delay to manage your financial needs.
After the age of 18, you will need to use your own income to buy your own food, pay for everyday travel, and pay for things such as clothing, personal care, going out and mobile phone bills.
There are further leaflets available from your Social Worker and Personal Advisor on how to make a benefit claim and the process, the different types of benefit and the identification you will need.
Remember you need to have a bank account before 18 years old, ID and National Insurance number number as you are responsible to claim Housing Benefit to pay your rent, Council Tax and any relevant benefits such as Job Seekers Allowance, Income Support, Universal Credit or Employment & Support Allowance.
What if things go wrong?
Speak to your Housing Officer or Personal Advisor. Please don’t leave it too late to resolve any issues we are here to support you
For more information and advice about money matters please see our Financial Support page.
Page last updated: 14/08/2019