Homelessness - Care Leavers

Most young people who have been in care are entitled to help if they become homeless. The help you are entitled to usually depends on your age and personal circumstances.

The council which last looked after you remains responsible for you even if you move to a different area. The council must continue to give you any help you need, even if you move to another area.

Key advice

The help you get mainly depends on your age:

  • Staffordshire County Council’s Children and Families service is responsible for finding you somewhere to live until you turn 18
  • If you are a 18, 19 or 20 year old homeless care leaver, East Staffordshire Borough Council’s Housing Options team must help
  • If you are aged 18 to 21 and spent at least one night in care when you were 16 or 17, you are automatically classed as being in priority need until your 21st birthday.

You may be entitled to emergency housing from East Staffordshire Borough Council if you are in priority need.

Contact East Staffordshire Borough Council on 01283 508120 if you need emergency housing or support.

Help and advice for homeless care leavers

Get advice if you become homeless. An adviser can help you to:

  • check whether Children and Families and/or the Housing Options team should help you
  • tell you what sort of accommodation and support Children and Families normally provide in East Staffordshire – this will give you an idea of what you can expect
  • make sure you are claiming all the benefits you are entitled to
  • tell you what longer term housing options are available in your area and give you an idea of how much it might cost
  • put you in contact with specialist support organisations or local schemes that can help you raise a deposit or find a suitable place to live
  • use Shelter's directory to find an adviser in your local area, or call Shelter's helpline on 0808 800 4444.

For more information please see our housing options and advice page.

Housing help for 16 and 17 year old care leavers

If:

  • you have already left care, and
  • you have spent a total of at least 13 weeks in care since the age of 14, and
  • part of that time in care was while you were 16 or 17

You will be able to get help including somewhere to live from Staffordshire County Council. It doesn't matter if those 13 weeks were not all at the same time. You have different rights if you have spent less than a total of 13 weeks in care, or you want to leave care before your 16th birthday.

If you are under the age of 18, Staffordshire County Council’s Children and Families department is responsible for finding you somewhere to live.

Financial support for 16 or 17 year old care leavers

Most 16 or 17 year old care leavers are not eligible for benefits. Staffordshire County Council’s Children and Families Service must help you by:

  • providing housing or helping you find and keep your own place
  • supporting you financially by paying you enough for your rent, food, bills, travel costs for education and training, clothing, pocket money and childcare if you need it
  • giving you any other support you need, such as help with continuing your education, finding work or dealing with personal problems

You can usually only claim benefits if you are a 16 or 17 year old care leaver and you are also a single parent or unable to work because of a disability or illness.

Housing help for 18 to 21 year old care leavers

If you are aged 18 to 21, you can get help from both Staffordshire County Council’s Children and Families services and East Staffordshire Borough Council’s Housing Options team. You are automatically classed as being in ‘priority need’ until your 21st birthday, which means that the Housing Options team service should help you find a place to live.

If you are aged 18 to 21 and spent at least one night in care when you were 16 or 17, you are automatically classed as being in priority need until your 21st birthday. Children and Families can also help you by providing support and help with training and education. If you are in full-time further or higher education, Children’s Services must find you somewhere to live during holiday periods if you need it.

Benefits for care leavers over 18

When you turn 18 you are entitled to claim benefits. You should be able to claim Universal Credit if you need to.

Usually if you are aged under 35 and you rent from a private landlord, the maximum Universal Credit you can get is the same rate you would get for renting a single room in a shared house. But if you've been in care, this doesn't apply until you turn 22. You should be entitled to Universal Credit even if you have just spent one night in care. There is a maximum amount that you can be paid, which depends on the area you live in.

Housing help for 21 years old and above care leavers

Some older care leavers can get accommodation from the Housing Options team if they are in priority need.

This may be the case if you:

  • are vulnerable as a result of having been in care
  • haven't had a stable home since you left care
  • have slept on the streets in the past

If you are in full-time further or higher education and you have nowhere to stay outside term time, the County Council's Children and Families service must also find you somewhere to live.

Staffordshire County Council's Children and Families team can help you by providing assistance with education and training until your 25th birthday.

Other support for care leavers aged 18 to 24

As a care leaver you should continue to receive help and advice from Staffordshire County Council until your 21st birthday, or 25th if you are still in education or training. Children and Families can help you by providing assistance with education and training until your 25th birthday.

Your personal adviser should still keep in touch and should go over your pathway plan with you to see how you are getting on.

Ask the County Council’s Children and Families service to help you if you need support to continue with your education or find training or employment. They may be able to help with the cost of living near your college, training centre or workplace.

Extra help for moving into a new place

If you are a care leaver moving to a new place, you may be entitled to a budgeting loan to help pay for any rent in advance, moving expenses or household items. Most people who have been on income support or jobseekers allowance for at least 26 weeks can apply. These loans are paid back through deductions from your benefits.

Personal Advisor

Before you leave care you should normally be given a pathway plan setting out what support you might need to live independently. Find out more from GOV.UK about pathway plans. You are given a personal adviser whose job it is to make sure that you claim everything you are entitled to. They can help you with application forms for housing, benefits, and education and/or training courses. They should also help you with learning life skills, like how to budget.

Your personal adviser should stay in contact with you and provide ongoing support and help until you turn 21 or until your 25th birthday if you are still studying full time. Get advice if you don't have a personal adviser. You may be able to get one even if you didn't get one while you were still in care.

Suitable accommodation for young care leavers

You may get a place in a hostel or a self-contained flat. It is unlikely, but in some cases you could be offered a place in a children's home or foster care. Ask your personal adviser to help you if you have problems in your accommodation. Get advice immediately if you're placed in bed and breakfast accommodation or any other unsuitable accommodation. You can also use Shelter's directory to find your local Shelter advice centre.

What is a local connection?

If you have been provided with accommodation by a local authority and you are normally living in an area for a continuous period of two years or more and some or all of this period falls before you are 16 years of age, then you have a local connection with that area.