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Help and Housing for care leavers

If you are a care leaver you may be able to get housing and other help from the council. The help you get mainly depends on your age and the help that social services provide in your area.

You are a care leaver if you are over the age of 16 and fall within one of the following categories:

  • ‘Eligible child’
  • Relevant child
  • Former Relevant child
  • Other qualifying care leaver

Eligible child

You are an eligible child if you are 16 or 17 and either:

  • looked after by children’s services for a period of 13 weeks since the age of 14; or
  • currently looked after.

As an eligible child, you are entitled to:

  • a personal advisor
  • a needs assessment
  • a pathway plan
  • receive all the care and support you normally receive until you leave care.

Relevant child

You are a relevant child if you are aged 16 or 17 and are either:

  • looked after by children’s services for a period of 13 weeks since the age of 14
  • were looked after for a period of time after your 16th birthday; or
  • are no longer looked after

As a relevant child, the assistance you are entitled to includes:

  • a personal advisor
  • a needs assessment
  • a pathway plan
  • accommodation and maintenance
  • financial support to meet education, training and employment needs

Former relevant child

You are a former relevant child if you are aged between 18 and 21 OR between 18 and 25 if in full-time education and were previously an eligible child and/or relevant child.

As a former relevant child you are entitled to:

  • a personal advisor
  • a pathway plan kept under regular review
  • assistance with employment education and training
  • suitable accommodation
  • help with living costs.

Qualifying care leaver

You are a qualifying care leave if you are either aged between 16 and 21 OR between 16-25 if still in full time education and were either:

  • looked after by children’s services on or after your 16th birthday and are no longer looked after; or
  • spent less than 13 weeks in care since your 14th birthday i.e. do not fulfil the criteria for eligible or relevant children.

As a qualifying care leave you are eligible for:

  • help with living expenses and if you are in higher education, you may also receive help securing vacation accommodation;
  • advice and assistance from children’s services which may include financial assistance.

Personal adviser

Before you leave care you're given a pathway plan setting out what support you might need to live independently.

Find out more from www.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 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.

If you are homeless or at risk of losing your home

Your personal adviser can help you to:

  • check whether Children’s services and/or the Housing Solutions service should help you; 
  • tell you what sort of accommodation and support Children’s services normally provide in Tower Hamlets 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 further housing advice.

For more information on our work in this area please visit our children and family care and the housing options page.

Housing Help

Care leavers under the age of 18

If you are under the age of 18, the London Borough of Tower Hamlet’s Children’s services department is responsible for finding you somewhere to live.

16 or 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 London Borough of Tower Hamlet’s Housing Options Service. 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. 

Get advice if the London Borough of Tower Hamlets is not helping you.

Use Shelter's directory located at www.shelter.org.uk to find your local Shelter advice centre or Citizens Advice. This service is free and confidential.

18-21 Year old Care leavers

If you are aged 18 to 21, you can get help from both London Borough of Tower Hamlet’s Children’s services and the Housing Options service. You are automatically classed as being in ‘priority need’ until your 21st birthday, which means that the Housing Solutions 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’s services 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.

Care leavers 21 and over

Some older care leavers can get accommodation from the Housing Options Service if they are in priority need. For example, 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 Children’s services must also find you somewhere to live. Visit the children and family care page for more information.

Financial support 

16 or 17 year old care leavers

Most 16 or 17 year old care leavers are not eligible for benefits. The Children’s Services

Department of Tower Hamlets 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.

Find out more from Turn2Us about benefit rules for care leavers.

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.

Find out more from Turn2Us about benefit rules for care leavers.

 

Suitable accommodation for young care leavers

Any accommodation we provide should be suitable for you. 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 feel that you have been places in accommodation that is unsuitable for you.

Use Shelter's directory to find your local Shelter advice centre.

Single room rate

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 spent just one night in care. There is a maximum amount that you can be paid, which depends on the area you live in.

Priority need

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 the council if you are in priority need. Your housing officer will review your circumstances and inform you if the Council owes you a duty to provide you with accommodation.

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.

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.

Other support for care leavers aged 18 to 24

As a care leaver you should continue to receive help and advice from the council until your 21st birthday, or 25th if you are still in education or training. Children’s services 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 Social Services 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.

For further information contact the council's leaving care service (LCS) on 020 7364 5000. The LCS can help you plan for your future and can support you in your transition to independence. All young people supported by the LCS are provided with the following services:

  • Personal Adviser (PA)
  • Needs Assessments and Pathway plans until the age of 24;
  • Review of accommodation options available to you
  • Financial support
  • Education training or employment support.