Homelessness advice 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. Tower Hamlets’ Children’s Service is responsible for finding you somewhere to live until you turn 18. If you are aged between 18-25 years and are a homeless care leaver, the Housing Options Service will provide you with advice, support and guidance.
Housing help for 16 and 17 year old care leavers
There may be help available 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 the Council’s Children’s Services. 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.
Visit our young people’s webpage for more on getting emergency help if you are homeless and aged 16 or 17.
Visit the Shelter pages for young people and care leavers for more advice.
Financial support for 16 or 17 year old care leavers
Most 16 or 17 year old care leavers are not eligible for benefits. Children’s must help you by:
providing housing or helping you find and keep your own place
supporting you financially by assisting with 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.
Housing help for 18 to 25 year old care leavers
If you are a homeless care leaver aged 18 to 25, you can get help from both the Council Children’s Services and from the Housing Options team. We have a duty to assess the circumstances of your homelessness, identify what your housing and support needs are, and to work with you to try to prevent your homelessness or support you to find you somewhere to live. We will provide you with a ‘personal housing plan’ which will tell you what we can do to help you and what you can do to help yourself. This might include actions such as attending appointments with our Employment and Skills Team or engaging with organisations that can support care-leavers.
If you are homeless we will consider whether we have a duty to provide you with accommodation.
You will automatically be classed as being in ‘priority need’ for accommodation purposes until your 21st birthday if:
Children’s Services may 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 may 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.
Housing help for care leavers 21 and over
Some older care leavers may have a priority need under homelessness law as a result of having been in care when they were younger. Find out more information about your rights.
Use our Housing Options Finder tool to see what other options may be available to you - the sooner you know about your options, the sooner you can take the right action for you.
If you are in full-time further or higher education and you have nowhere to stay outside term time Children’s Services may also find you somewhere to live.
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 25th birthday, including assistance with education and training. Your personal adviser should keep in touch and should go over your pathway plan with you to see how you are getting on (there is more information about personal advisers further down). Ask Children’s 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.
Help for all care leavers
The council’s role
If you are a Care Leaver under 21 that has been looked after, accommodated or fostered in a different area for a period of at least two years, you may also apply for assistance in that area. However if you are not in this category the council that 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. Contact the Council or call Shelter's helpline on 0808 800 4444 if you need emergency housing or support.
Before you leave care, you will be given a pathway plan setting out what support you might need to live independently.
You will be given the details of a personal adviser whose job it is to make sure that you access the services and benefits 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 your 25th birthday.
Seek advice if you do not have a personal adviser. You may be able to get one even if you did not get one while you were still in care.
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 have been in care, this rule will not apply until you turn 25. You should be entitled to Universal Credit even if you have just spent one night in care.
If you are aged 18 to 20 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’s Housing Options Service if you are in priority need.
Extra help when moving into a new home
If you are a care leaver moving to a new home, 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. Your personal advisor will be able to help you apply for this.
What is a local connection?
The local connection rules relating to care leavers aged under 21 changed on 3rd April 2018 and you have a local connection with both the borough that placed you and the area in which you were accommodated (if you lived there for 2 years or more, including some time before you turned 16 ). Your personal advisor may be able to help you make an informed choice about where to approach based on your wishes and preferences.