Housing Advice for Care Leavers
We are committed to making sure that you have somewhere to live that is safe and stable.
As part of that commitment, we will provide practical and emotional support for you to move to different accommodation when needed. That includes explaining the housing pathway for Care Leavers and helping you understand what support is available to you to live independently.
The help that you get mainly depends on your age, so we’ve split our information is the following sections:
- Housing help for 16 and 17-year-old care leavers
- Housing help for 18 to 25-year-old care leavers
- Help for all care leavers
- ‘Local connections’ and housing rights if you live outside Devon
- Help and advice for homeless care leavers
- Apply for a council or housing association home
- Need further support or advice about housing support?
- 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 Devon County Council 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.
Financial support for 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 Devon County Council will 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 benefit rules for care leavers.
If you are a care leaver aged 18 to 25, in most areas of Devon you can get help from both Devon County Council Children’s Services and from your local District Council Housing Options Team. If you live in East Devon, Exeter or Teignbridge, Young Devon are your primary point of contact for housing support.
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.
Your Housing Officer will work with you to agree a ‘personal housing plan’, which will tell you what the local council and providers can do to help you and what you can do to help yourself.
If you’re homeless, the Housing Options Team 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’re aged 18 to 20 and spent at least one night in care when you were 16 or 17
- Or you’re older than this but qualify for assistance as you’re 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.
If you’re a care leaver aged 21 years old or above, you may be considered priority need if you’re ‘significantly more vulnerable’ – this could be due to your housing history, your support needs, time spent in care, medical conditions or a combination of factors.
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. The official government website has lots of information about these benefits and how to claim them. Further advice and guidance is available from Citizens Advice and Turn2Us.
Before you leave care, you will work with your social worker, Personal Advisor and others to produce your pathway plan, setting out what support you might need to live independently now or in the future.
You will be given the details of a personal advisor 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.
We have more information about the Personal Advisor role and support in our Local Offer to young people who are leaving care.
Suitable accommodation for young care leavers
Any accommodation that you are provided should be suitable for you.
Ask your personal advisor to help you if you have problems in your accommodation.
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 the sole-occupancy housing rate under 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. You can use the DirectGov website to search for Local Housing Allowance rates by postcode or local authority, but your Personal Advisor will be able to confirm the correct amount – as will your local Housing Options Team.
You have a ‘local connection’ to a given area if you’re under 21 and were previously in care in a given area for at least 2 years (even if placed there by another council). So if you’re a Devon care leaver but live in Plymouth or Torbay, you’ll still have a local connection to Devon.
Similarly, if you’re under 25 and your pathway plan is provided by Devon County Council, you have a local connection to all eight local authority districts in Devon. These are:
- East Devon District Council
- Exeter City Council
- Mid Devon District Council
- North Devon District Council
- South Hams District Council
- Teignbridge District Council
- Torridge District Council
- West Devon Borough Council
Your personal advisor will help you make the best-informed decision about where to approach based on your wishes and preferences.
You should always try to get support before you become homeless. There’s lots of advice and guidance available to you at any time, including if you do become homeless.
We work with a team of Youth Homelessness Prevention services and workers who will help you to:
- check whether Children’s Services and/or local Housing Options Team will be best able to help you,
- tell you what sort of accommodation and support Children’s Services normally provide in Devon – 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 and maintain a suitable place to live
If you live in South Hams, West Devon, Mid Devon or North Devon, this service will be provided by a specialist officer within their Housing Options Teams. Young Devon runs Homelessness Prevention schemes in Teignbridge, Exeter and East Devon, while Encompass run this service in Torridge.
You can use the Devon Home Choice form to apply for a council or housing association home. More information about Devon Home Choice is available on their website.