Housing advice for care leavers

Help for all care leavers

The council’s role

If you are a care leaver under 21 who 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 as well as to the council that looked after you most recently. 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 Ealing 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.

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.

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 supported housing. It is unlikely, but in some cases, you could be offered a place in a children's home or foster care.

In the longer term, it is most likely that you will be helped to find and move into a private sector tenancy.

Ask your personal adviser to help you if you have problems in your 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 at the one-bed rate if you have spent at least one night in care.

The maximum amount that you can be paid depends on the local housing allowance rate in 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 under homelessness legislation as being in priority need until your 21st birthday. You may be entitled to emergency housing from Ealing housing solutions 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 adviser 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. You are likely to have a local connection with both the borough that placed you and the area in which you were accommodated (if you lived there for two years or more). Your personal adviser will help you make the best-informed decision about which authority 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 Ealing Council housing solutions should help you
  • Tell you what sort of accommodation and support children’s services normally provide in Ealing - 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.