Care-Leavers ‘In Unsuitable Homes’

One in six young people leaving care is being placed in unsuitable or unsafe accommodation because of “poor” local authority planning, according to a new report.

In some cases, vulnerable young people were put in danger by being placed in sub standard housing where they were harassed and bullied by other tenants.

The young people’s charity Rainer, which is publishing the report, fears the future careers and well-being of many care leavers is being jeopardised by the problem. Some found themselves living next to drug addicts and mental health patients after being placed in the same accommodation by the local authority.

Others ended up miles away from work or training and effectively cut off from friends and other support, the study found.

Local authorities have a legal duty to provide ‘suitable accommodation’ for young people leaving care, and they are regarded as a priority group for housing services. But a lack of co-ordination between social services and housing departments often means they are not given the help and support they are entitled to.

There is also evidence that young people feel they have no choice but to accept unsuitable accommodation or run the risk of being declared ‘intentionally homeless’ and receiving no further help.

Becoming homeless is one of the top ten concerns of young people leaving care and up to one in three rough sleepers spent time in local authority care as a child.

The report recommends that every local authority develops a list of approved properties and landlords and a system for rigorously inspecting properties before vulnerable young people are placed in them.