Established 2005 Registered Charity No. 1110656

Scottish Charity Register No. SC043760

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Care leavers need care

July 05 2015
Thousands of young people have been placed in unsuitable accommodation despite new rules

Thousands of young people have been placed in unsuitable accommodation after leaving care despite new rules which should stop this from happening.

National figures from the Department of Education indicate up to 78 per cent of those leaving care are housed in accommodation which is deemed safe and suitable for the resident’s needs with some charities claiming that cuts to local council budgets are to blame.

However local figures highlight that in some areas that number is much lower. Out of the 151 local authorities in England, 15 of them told the Department for Education that only two thirds or less of young care leavers were living in accommodation which was classified as being “suitable”.

Government guidance states that bed and breakfast accommodation should be used only in emergencies and for no longer than a period of two days. However, according to BBC Radio 4’s File on 4 programme there is evidence of some young people spending up to two weeks in this type of accommodation.

The guidance, which was released in January this year, also states that 16 and 17 year olds who are homeless must to able to access a range of services, including accommodation. Councils arrequired to put 16 and 17 year olds in touch with a social worker if they inform the housing department that they are homeless.

Jenny Clifton, Principal Policy Adviser for Safeguarding at the Office of the Children's Commissioner, told File on 4 there was evidence of people being placed in bed and breakfast accommodation despite the introduction of new laws stating that such accommodation should only be offered in emergencies.

"There are very vulnerable people being placed in highly unsuitable environments and inadequately inspected environments as well,” she said.

"Many leave care too soon and don't get the ongoing support that they need. Local authorities have had to make a lot of cuts, and the present position is that services for care leavers is very variable across the country."

Care Leaver's Rights

Your local authority must make sure that you have somewhere 'suitable to live'. If you have nowhere to stay, the housing department at the local council who will ensure that suitable accommodation is found for you.

If the council arranges accommodation for you they must review the property after 28 days and at least every three months following that. In an emergency local councils may place you in a B&B for no longer than two days.

Financial Support
Until you turn 18 social services must ensure that you have the financial support that you for food, clothing, travel, hobbies etc. They must ensure that you receive just as much financial support as you would on benefits. Once you are 18, (and if not in employment or full-time education) you can claim benefits.

• A Personal Adviser
Social services should make sure that you have a Personal Adviser. It is their job to keep in touch with you, and help you get what you need. Your personal adviser must also visit within your first week of arriving in new accommodation and at least every two months after that.

• Education
If you are a care leaver aged 16–19, you are entitled to a guaranteed £1,200 bursary if you stay in full-time education. Your school or college can tell you how to apply.