Posted: 13 October 2017

Care leavers risk homelessness as rents continue to rise

Our work with care leavers has identified them as a particularly vulnerable group. Centrepoint’s new report ‘From care to where’, exposes a particularly troubling issue facing them as they transition to independent living. 

While people probably know Centrepoint as a youth homelessness charity, it also supports young people who are in the care of local authorities, or who have become homeless after leaving care.

There have been several changes to national policy over recent years to better protect care leavers. However Centrepoint’s recent research report ‘From care to where?’, on the accommodation options available to these often still vulnerable young people, has revealed that for many their transition to independent living is far from smooth.

A troubling future

Worryingly, 26% of the care leavers surveyed had sofa surfed and 14% had slept rough.  They shared the real problems they faced finding accommodation when it came to leaving Centrepoint. 

many care leavers unable to find affordable accommodation

With the collapse in supply of traditional social housing, 40% of care leavers said they didn’t have money for a rent deposit and 39% stated that levels of housing benefit no longer covered their rent in the private sector. 

The problematic gap

When a care leaver turns 22 the amount of benefit that they can claim to cover rent falls from the higher one-bed rate to the shared accommodation rate of the Local Housing Allowance (LHA). Therefore young people leaving care face a sudden and often insurmountable gap between their rent and their income.

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A fairer start for care leavers

Ask your council to ensure that care leavers in your area get a fairer start at adulthood

When you add additional bills, such as Council Tax, the end result is bleak, with many care leavers unable to find affordable accommodation in the long term.

What can be done to help?

So, ahead of the Chancellor’s Budget in November, we are calling on the Government to make a small and affordable change to the law to support care leavers in completing their journey to independent living.

The Government should extend the exemption of care leavers from the shared accommodation rate of local housing allowance until the age of 25, allowing them to claim the higher one-bedroom rate.

With rents now far outpacing housing benefit, and no mass house-building scheme on the horizon, it is vital that young people with no-one else to turn to, receive the support they need.

Furthermore, like The Children’s Society, we think that all care leavers across the country should be exempt from Council Tax until they are at least in their early 20s - something that over 30 councils have already committed to doing.

Ask your council to ensure a fairer start for care leavers

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