We welcome the guidance published today (Monday 26 October 2020) by the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government and the Department for Education on preventing care leavers from becoming homeless through better joint working between children’s and housing services. Housing is one of the most common issues we support care leavers with through the Care Advice Line and there’s a clear need for stronger guidance in this area.
We were pleased to be able to work with colleagues from MHCLG to feed into the guidance itself, and to see some of our suggestions included – such as linking clearly with the Local Offer, noting the appeal process for when care leavers don’t agree with the ‘suitability’ assessment, and adding how social housing is allocated to care leavers who have moved away (e.g. to attend university) but wish to return to their home local authority.
However, we’re disappointed to see the guidance isn’t clearer on how local authorities should work cooperatively to support young people leaving care who want to apply for housing where they live – if they’ve been living out of area – as part of the normal planning process and not through homelessness legislation. We’d also like to see a stronger line from government on not deeming care leavers as ‘intentionally homeless’, how local authorities should support care leavers who are no longer ‘priority need’ after age 21, and including information on the local authority’s decision regarding acting as a guarantor for accessing private rented accommodation.