Housing advice for care leavers

Part of: Help if you're at risk of becoming homeless

If you are a care leaver you may be able to get housing and other help from Haringey Council. The help you get mainly depends on your age. Children’s Services 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, Young Adult Service CYPS and our housing service will provide you with advice, support and guidance.

Housing help for 16 and 17-year-old care leavers

You will be able to get help including somewhere to live from Haringey Council children’s services 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.

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.

Financial support for 16 or 17-year-old care leavers

Most 16 or 17-year-old care leavers are not eligible for benefits. Our Children’s Services 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 about benefits rules for care leavers.

Housing help for 18 to 25-year-old care leavers

If you are a care leaver aged 18 to 25, you can get help from both children’s services and Haringey Council housing. If you approach these services we will usually try to offer you a joint interview as 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:

  • You are aged 18 to 21 and spent at least one night in care when you were 16 or 17
  • Or you are older than this but qualify for assistance as you are still in education

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.

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 21 years old and above care leavers

We will provide housing assistance to all care leavers in the form of a Personal Housing Plan. Personal advisers will also help and support Care Leavers until their 25th birthday.

Some older care leavers can get accommodation from us 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

Other support for care leavers aged 18 to 24

As a care leaver, you should continue to receive help and advice from Haringey 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 Haringey Council or call Shelter's helpline on 0808 800 4444 if you need emergency housing or support.

Personal adviser

Before you leave care you will be given a pathway plan setting out what support you might need to live independently. Find out more about pathway plans on GOV.UK.

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, 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.

Suitable accommodation for young care leavers

Any accommodation that you are provided should be suitable for you. You may get a place in a hostel, a self-contained flat or a placement in to supported housing. 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 are placed in bed and breakfast accommodation or any other unsuitable accommodation.

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 have been in care, this rule will not 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.

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 us if you are in priority need. This will normally be supported housing as we consider this to be the most appropriate accommodation for young people.

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 changed on 3 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). Your personal advisor will help you make the best-informed decision about where to approach based on your wishes and preferences.

Help and advice for homeless care leavers

Get advice before you become homeless.

An adviser can help you to:

  • check whether children’s services and/or Haringey housing services should help you
  • tell you what sort of accommodation and support children’s services normally provide in Haringey – 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