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5.8 Joint Housing Protocol for Care Leavers

AMENDMENT

This chapter was updated in March 2014.


Contents

  1. Legislative Framework
  2. Aims of the Protocol
  3. Objectives
  4. Equality and Diversity
  5. Eligibility
  6. Leaving Care flats
  7. Service Outcomes
  8. Allocation Policy
  9. Support
  10. Financial Implications
  11. Process
  12. Review


1. Legislative Framework

Caption: section 1, Legislative Framework
   
1.1 The Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000 (CLCA 2000) and the Homelessness Act 2002 (HA 2002) are designed to ensure that local authority Children's Social Care and housing departments work together to ensure that the accommodation needs of care leavers are met and have priority need status.
1.2

The HA 2002 states that a young person has a priority need for accommodation if he or she is:

  • A person under 21 who was (but is no longer) Looked After by the local authority between the ages of 16 and 18 (except relevant students);
  • A person aged 21 or more who is vulnerable as a result of having been Looked After by the local authority.
1.3

The C(LC)A 2000 Regulations and Guidance also detail how the local authority strategy for care leavers should take into account:

  • The diverse accommodation and support needs of care leavers;
  • The capacity to offer young people a degree of choice of accommodation;
  • Existing and planned provision of safe affordable accommodation;
  • Gaps in provision;
  • Priority setting;
  • The need for contingency arrangements.
1.4 The role of the local authority as a corporate parent means that meeting the accommodation needs of care leavers requires partnership working across departments and agencies. The housing needs of care leavers must be addressed before they leave care via Pathway Planning and joint assessment. This protocol will ensure that the housing and children's services of East Riding of Yorkshire Council each play a full role in providing the required resources and support to care leavers (1).
1.5 This protocol is also informed by case law and the draft National Standards for Leaving Care being produced by the National Leaving Care Advisory Service (2).


2. Aims of the Protocol

Caption: section 2, Aims of the Protocol
   
2.1 To ensure the effective discharge of corporate responsibilities between housing and Children's Social Care by jointly addressing the diverse accommodation needs of young people leaving care in the East Riding of Yorkshire
2.2 Wherever practicable, to prevent care leavers becoming homeless thereby avoiding the need for care leavers to enter the homelessness system.
2.3 To support young people to become responsible and successful tenants.
2.4

Because of the diverse needs of care leavers and the way in which these will change over time, a range of accommodation options will be required. These may include the following:

  • Enabling young people to remain living with former foster carers through conversion of these placements to supported lodgings (Staying Put arrangements);
  • Other supported lodgings placements;
  •  Other transitional accommodation with varying degrees of support such as trainer flats or hostels;
  • Specialist accommodation for young people with particular support needs (eg disabled young people, young parents);
  • Self contained accommodation with housing related support;
  • Independent tenancies.
2.5

The protocol will therefore work at a number of levels:

  • Monitoring and reviewing the accommodation needs of care leavers;
  • Undertaking joint Housing / Pathway team assessments of individual housing need;
  • Developing a joint commissioning strategy to meet needs;
  • Recognising that Housing services have a role as a resource provider, releasing accommodation for use by care leavers, including secure tenancies where appropriate;
  • To ensure that there is minimal use of bed and breakfast accommodation for care leavers in crisis situations;
  • Joint work to ensure that young people are accommodated in safe environments which meet health and safety requirements.


3. Objectives

Caption: section 3, Objectives
   
3.1 To jointly assess and meet the diverse housing and support needs of young people leaving care, through the application of a clear consistent process. (Section 11)
3.2 To work closely together to establish a common database of housing resources and service provision for young people.
3.3 To ensure care leavers achieve a successful transition into independent living through support, preparation and provision of suitable accommodation.
3.4 To ensure young people are awarded care leaver priority status to prevent the need to go through the homeless route (3).
3.5 To identify gaps in service provision for young people and to work together with other agencies to address these gaps, feeding information into the relevant strategie.
3.6 To ensure that care leavers' homeless status is assessed in accordance with legislation, and that wherever possible they are awarded a priority need status. (5).
3.7 To jointly ensure that all staff are aware of the housing needs of young people leaving care and the obligations of each agency to address these needs. Strategies may include ongoing joint training, a robust induction process and opportunities for shadowing.
3.8 To provide clear guidelines on the management of difficult tenancies which will include contingency arrangements.
3.9 To ensure that the accommodation needs of young people entering and discharged from custody are adequately planned for, in line with the Housing and Returning Service.

3 Homelessness (Priority Need for Accommodation) England) Order (Statutory Instrument Number 2051, 2002)
5 Homelessness (Priority Need for Accommodation) England) Order (Statutory Instrument Number 2051, 2002)


4. Equality and Diversity

Caption: section 4, Equality and Diversity
   
4.1 The equality and diversity policies of East Riding of Yorkshire Council must underpin the way agencies address the needs of care leavers.
4.2 Housing and Children's Social Care value diversity and are committed to equality of opportunity and access to suitable accommodation for all young people, regardless of age, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, culture, faith or disability.
4.3 Housing and Children's Social Care actively seek to promote the participation of young people in the decision making process, and will involve them in the implementation of this protocol.


5. Eligibility

Caption: section 5, Eligibility
   
5.1 Young people aged 16 to 21 (or up to 25 if in further/higher education), who have housing, or support needs and who have left or are due to leave the care of the East Riding of Yorkshire Council. (see 8.3 for detailed definition)
5.2 Following the Hillingdon Judgement this protocol will apply to Unaccompanied Asylum Seekers who are eligible for a leaving care service and have been granted refugee status. Also those who qualify and given leave to remain up to the age of 20 or an extension beyond the age of 18 for a minimum of one year (6).
5.3 Care leavers who are the responsibility of another Local Authority but who reside in the East Riding area, and can show a local connection with the area, may fall within the remit of this protocol, providing there is evidence of the connection and a plan to remain in the area.

6 R (Berhe et al )v Hillingdon LBC (2003)


6. Leaving Care flats

Caption: section 6, Leaving Care flats
   
6.1 It is agreed that Housing will let to the Pathway team up to 6 units of accommodation across the East Riding for supported accommodation / training purposes. The Pathway team will be the ‘tenant’ of these units, and will place care leavers (usually once they have reached the age of 17) in the units on the basis of a licence agreement or written agreement. Any young person placed in the flats will be required to complete a housing application form, on the basis that if they successfully maintain their ‘tenancy’ in the flat they will be offered a secure tenancy at 18 – either in that unit or in an alternative property (subject to availability). Alternatively they may secure a tenancy elsewhere- for example in the private sector.
6.2 Notification of the placement of any young person in one of these units will be made to the local housing officer, and regular review and monitoring arrangements will be put in place according to individual need. The Pathway Team Accommodation Officer will co-ordinate these placements and management of the flats.
6.3 Rent and council tax charges on these properties will be paid by the Pathway team regardless of occupancy. Individual young people will be responsible for water, gas and electricity charges for the period of their occupancy. Where appropriate, a housing benefit claim will be made by young people over the age of 18 for their period of residence.
6.4 Support will be provided by the Pathway team – via the accommodation officer and the young person’s support worker. The team will be responsible for monitoring the placement and notifying the Housing Officer of any problems.


7. Service Outcomes

Caption: section 7, Service Outcomes
   
7.1 Housing and Children's Social Care will support each other, through the protocol, to meet national key performance indicators in respect of leaving care and the housing department as defined by Central Government.
7.2 Housing and Children's Social Care will jointly agree local service outcomes and outputs that are monitored by designated accountable officers.
7.3 A named officer in each area will take responsibility for the housing applications of care leavers.
7.4 Housing and Children's Social Care will share information to jointly develop a system to predict and meet future housing need and continue to develop partnerships that will be of benefit to young people leaving care.


8. Allocation Policy

Caption: section 8, Allocation Policy
   
8.1

Under current legislation and guidance some care leavers who are threatened with losing accommodation may have the same level of priority need as other statutory homeless applications and the allocation of properties should reflect this, thereby wherever possible preventing the need for care leavers to go through the homeless route (8).

8.2 Prior to allocation, agreement should be reached between leaving care services and housing regarding complex cases, taking into account the need for flexibility depending on the young person's circumstances, abilities and the level of support required.
8.3

This protocol specifically applies to all young people aged 16 to 24 who meet the Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000 criteria including the following:

  • Eligible young people aged 16 or 17 who are either subject to a Care Order or who are accommodated by the local authority for at least 13 weeks since their 14th birthday and on or after their 16th birthday;
  • Relevantyoung people aged 16 or 17 who are no longer Looked After but for whom Children's Social Care are responsible for maintaining in suitable accommodation and providing financial support. These young people cannot, subject to some exceptions due to a disability or being a parent, claim welfare benefits;
  • Former relevant young people aged 18 to 24 who have previously been either eligible or relevant. These young people can access benefits, but continue to receive leaving care support services.
8.4 The protocol does not apply to Qualifying young people who may have been briefly accommodated but did not attain eligible status. There is a duty to advise and befriend but for the purposes of meeting housing needs their status is as that applied to any other homeless young person seeking assistance under Homelessness legislation.

7 Homelessness (Priority Need for Accommodation) England) Order (Statutory Instrument Number 2051, 2002)

8 Homelessness (Priority Need for Accommodation) England) Order (Statutory Instrument Number 2051, 2002)


9. Support

Caption: section 9, Support
   
9.1 All young people aged 16 to 21 (or 25 see 5.1) leaving care who are eligible, relevant or former relevant will have an assessment of need and pathway plan. These are legal documents and the method by which their needs are identified and addressed. The pathway plan is reviewed at least every six months, and there is an expectation that housing will make a contribution to this plan if and when appropriate.
9.2 The Pathway Plan will detail accommodation needs and the type of housing related support that the young person may require in order to successfully maintain a tenancy. All Pathway Plans must include a contingency plan.
9.3 The success of tenancies will be monitored closely and potential difficulties dealt with promptly involving the young person. If there is evidence that a tenancy is unlikely to be sustained, prompt communication between agencies is essential and a review of the pathway plan will be undertaken identifying current and future need. Additional tenancy review meetings should be arranged if required. The Pathway team accommodation officer will play a key role in monitoring tenancies, liaising with Housing colleagues and focussing on early intervention to prevent tenancy breakdowns.
9.4 Young people leaving care will have different levels of support needs. This may range from intensive support from a number of agencies, to minimum advice and guidance from a leaving care support worker, and the support offered by good housing management practice.
9.5 Both housing and the Pathway team must ensure that young people understand fully what is required of them as a tenant, who is to support them, and what they should do in a crisis. A ‘sign-up’ meeting will always be held with the young person, involving Housing and the Pathway team. A multi agency agreement may be appropriate in addition to the pathway plan. (see section 11.4 below.)
9.6 The prompt sharing of information between agencies is essential in order to support young people and address tenancy issues. The Data Protection Act (2018) requires that young people should give their written consent before any information about them can be shared. Consent to information sharing is covered in the Pathway Plan.
9.7 Consultation should take place between agencies, and agreement reached, prior to any formal action being taken to end a tenancy.


10. Financial Implications

Caption: section 10, Financial Implications
   
10.1 Under the C(LC)A 2000, East Riding of Yorkshire Council’s Pathway team is responsible for the accommodation costs in full for eligible and relevant (16-17) young people up to their 18th birthday.
10.2 Young people become responsible for their own rent after their 18th birthday via housing benefit and/or direct payment (if in employment and ineligible for housing benefit).
10.3 When a young person is sentenced to custody a prompt assessment should take place of their future housing needs and current housing benefit status, in line with the HARP Protocol.
10.4 Under Housing Benefit Regulations [HBR 2(1), 11(3B)] all young people who qualify for leaving care services are exempt from the definition of “young individual” and the attendant “shared room rate” restrictions for the purposes of housing benefit. Care leavers between the age of 18 and 25 can get the ‘one bedroomed flat’ rate for housing benefit. (Post 25 it reverts to the shared room rate up to the age of 35).


11. Process

Caption: section 11, Process
   
11.1 The Pathway team, via the Accommodation Officer, will notify the relevant housing team of any forthcoming applications in their area. The Pathway team will ensure the application form is completed and submitted, with a support letter confirming the details of the young person’s LAC history, their status under the Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000
11.2 At this stage the young person’s name will, under usual circumstances, be registered on the waiting list in Group 3. This process can be completed prior to a young person’s eighteenth birthday, and in the event of a property being identified it can be offered on a ‘licence’ basis, and the full tenancy then be offered at 18
11.3 Any allocations will be discussed by the workers involved with the young person, and copies of all correspondence to the young person copied to the Pathway team Accommodation Officer. In the event of a property being allocated, support arrangements will be discussed and agreed by all those involved. This will be done via a 3 way ‘sign up’ meeting between the young person, the local Housing Officer, and the Pathway team Accommodation officer and / or support worker. Arrangements for tenancy support will be confirmed at this meeting and, if required, an additional support plan drawn up.
11.4 In the event of no property being allocated within a six month period a review meeting will be called.
11.5 The Pathway team will ensure the young person notifies Housing of any change of address through completion of the Change of Circumstances form.
11.6 In the event of imminent or actual homelessness then the young person will be assisted to make a homelessness application, but this should be the exception and not the usual route into housing.
11.7 Where it is determined by Housing that the applicant is intentionally homeless there is provision within the protocol for representations and discussions between the relevant service managers.
11.8 If a young person has already been assisted under the terms of this housing protocol as described above, and they then subsequently re-present at a later date they will normally be dealt with in accordance with the usual allocations policy, and will not necessarily be given status as a careleaver again.
11.9 Any difference of opinion over areas of responsibility, proposed actions or exceptions to the above should initially be dealt with by the caseworker in each directorate   If the issue cannot be resolved at this level, the matter should be referred jointly to the housing needs manager and the Pathway team manager (leaving care) for a decision.
11.10 . Disagreements over policy and procedures should be referred to the housing services group manager and the service manager (leaving care) for joint resolution


12. Review

Caption: section 12, Review
   
12.1 This protocol will be reviewed annually or sooner if the legislation or policies underpinning it change.

End