Your accommodation as a care leaver

We recognise that where you live, and feeling safe in your home is important. We have a duty to ensure that you live in suitable accommodation between the ages of 18 to 21 and once you become an adult we will help you to manage your accommodation. Your local district and borough hold the overall responsibility to provide housing to care leavers.

We know that leaving care and moving into independent accommodation can feel lonely and isolating. We will work together to make sure you are prepared for your move into independent living only when you are ready.

If there are times where you are moving we will help you to prepare and explain what your options are each step of the way. We will do our best to support you on your journey until you are settled in your independent life.

If you are turning 17, we will look at what post-18 options will look like for you. Your personal adviser (PA) will support you to speak to your local housing department to understand your options around independent housing. We will also work with people in your network, district and boroughs, private landlords and, where necessary, our Gateway to Resources Team to find you a suitable home.

Your PA will visit you at your accommodation to check that it is suitable and that you are doing okay. Don't forget you can contact your PA for advice or support whilst living independently.

There are different types of housing available to you. Your PA will discuss your options with you when you are approaching independent living and will help to find accommodation that is right for you.

Here is some more information about some of the options available:


Staying put

If you are living with foster carers, you may want to stay with them after you are 18 – this called 'staying put'. If you would like to stay living with your foster carer and everyone agrees to that plan, you can remain with them until you are 21. You can, of course, move out to live independently once you are ready.

In 'staying put', you will be more independent than when you were in foster care, but you will still need to keep to the house rules. Your 'staying put' carers will continue to support you and help you develop your independence skills. You will need to pay rent either from your wages if you are working, or from Universal Credit (UC). You will have a 'living together agreement' which will explain the expectations of you and your former foster carers for the duration of the staying put arrangement.

For more information please refer to the Staying Put Policy (pdf).


Supported accommodation

This is accommodation where you are provided with independent accommodation but can get extra help and support from staff. This is often a good way to help you prepare for living independently. Supported accommodation is usually shared with others but with your own room. Some have full time staff on site and others where keyworkers visit regularly but no staff live there. As with any adult accommodation, you will be expected to abide by the rules or risk losing the accommodation.


Supported lodgings

You can choose to live in supported lodgings. This means you would have your own room in someone's house and share the kitchen, living room and bathroom. Supported lodgings may be with a family, a single person or a couple. Most supported lodgings carers work outside the home, but some are home-based. They will offer support and guidance to help you towards independence. The level of support offered depends on what you need.

You will be a lodger in the supported lodgings carer's home, but most supported lodgings carers will invite you to be part of the family if you would like that or if you don't want that, you can live more independently with the security of knowing there is someone living alongside you to support you when needed.


Private-rented accommodation

If you are 18 and have good independence skills, you may decide to rent from a private landlord. Your personal adviser can support you with this and help you check out properties and tenancy agreements. Private rented will usually be shared accommodation and can be a good option if you have a few friends you would like to live with. You would pay the rent from your wages if you are working or from Universal Credit. As a care leaver, you can claim the Local Housing Allowance Shared Accommodation Rate until your 25th birthday. The local authority will provide you with the first month's rent and deposit on your first privately rented tenancy.


Social housing

This is provided by local district and borough housing departments. You should apply directly to the district and borough where you have a local connection.

We would encourage all young people to register for social housing from the age of 16 however this option is only available from age 18. It may take some years to gain a property, but you are not guaranteed social housing.

Your social worker will help you to apply when they complete the Pathway Plan with you. Social housing is usually a secure tenancy, a reasonable rent and is your own accommodation.

Local district and boroughs will want to know that you are ready to live independently; and have evidence that you have previously held a tenancy and have been a reliable tenant and paid your rent.


Preventing homelessness

Under the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 we have a 'duty to refer'. This means we need to notify the Local Housing Authority Housing Teams if we have reason to believe someone may be homeless or threatened with homelessness.

In general, a referral cannot be made without consent however, this may be waived in order to safeguard young people or vulnerable adults.

We can help you to submit a homeless application. Should you wish to view more information on homelessness please refer to the Homelessness Code of Guidance.

For more information and advice on homelessness, private renting, social housing and housing benefit visit the Shelter website or call 0808 800 4444.


Universal Credit

As you begin living more independently, you may hear about Universal Credit (UC). This is financial support you will receive from the government if you are on a low income or unemployed. You can apply online for Universal Credit on the GOV.UK website

UC replaces some of the benefits below which you might have previously heard of:

  • Child tax credit
  • Housing benefit
  • Income support
  • income-based jobseeker's allowance (JSA)
  • income-related employment and support allowance (ESA)
  • Working tax credit.

These are now called legacy benefits.

You might be able to claim UC if:

  • you're currently out of work, in-between jobs or on a low income
  • you're aged 18 or over, however depending on circumstances, young people aged 16 or 17 may still be able to claim
  • you and your partner have less than £16,000 in savings.

There are some situations where you will be able to claim UC if you're 16 or 17-years-old as well as if you're studying. This all depends on your circumstances, please speak to your PA as they will be able to help you apply for UC.