Action to prevent vulnerable young people from becoming homeless

New guidance for councils to ensure that young care leavers get the stable homes they need and prevents them becoming homeless has been issued by the Government.

Care leavers often struggle to cope with the challenges of living independently at a young age without a family network, and they usually need help to access services or deal with specific problems they face. Without specialist help they can end up at risk of becoming homeless.

To ensure this vulnerable group gets the support they need, new guidance from the Ministry of Housing sets out how council housing departments and children’s services can work effectively together to support care leavers into settled accommodation.

The good practice guidance recommends council housing departments and children’s services produce a joint protocol setting out how they will work together to ensure:

  • each care leaver has a tailored support plan as they transition to independent living;
  • those at risk of homelessness are identified early and action is taken to prevent it; and
  • a quick, safe and joined up response for care leavers who go on to become homeless.

The Government has written to councils reminding them that they can offer council tax discounts to care leavers. This is on top of the £3.2 million Whitehall funding per year announced as part of the Rough Sleeping Strategy to increase the support provided to care leavers at risk of homelessness or rough sleeping. This funding has been allocated to the 47 councils with the highest number of care leavers at risk of rough sleeping.

Kelly Tolhurst, Minister for Rough Sleeping and Housing said:

“Young adults leaving care need firm foundations on which to build a stable home for themselves, and to help support them start their adult lives confidently so they can fulfil their potential.

“The guidance we’ve published will help key services ensure care leavers get the housing support they need is another mark of the Government’s resolute commitment of helping vulnerable people.”

Children’s Minister Vicky Ford said:

“Young people leaving care too often face daunting transitions to adulthood, without the support system many of us take for granted. That’s why this government is working together to tackle the challenges they have told us they face, like housing, health care and employment, to make sure the right help is available.

“This new guidance will directly support care leavers to live independently and prevent them becoming homeless – building on the excellent work many councils are already doing for young people in care. Everyone has a responsibility – government, businesses, universities and local authorities alike – to support care leavers at this critical time in their life.

The good practice advice document has been produced by the Homelessness Advice and Support Team within the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), and with the Department for Education.

By Patrick Mooney, Editor