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Housing help for care leavers

Social services must help care leavers with:

  • housing and money if you are 16 or 17

  • advice and support until you turn 25 if you ask for it

To get this help you must have been in care for at least 13 weeks since you were 14. This must include at least a day when you were 16 or 17.

Leaving care

You can leave care at 16, though you do not have to leave until you're 18.

If you need advice about being in care before you turn 16, contact Childline.

Your pathway plan and personal adviser

Before you leave care, a personal adviser works with you to make sure you're ready to live independently.

Your personal adviser will ask you about:

  • where you want to live

  • money help and practical support you need

  • your plans for work, education or training

You get a pathway plan with clear goals. The plan should be looked at again every 6 months, or whenever there is a big change in your life.

You have this support until you’re 21. If you need support again before you're 25, you can ask for it.

Finding somewhere to live

If you leave care before you turn 18, social services must find you somewhere to live.

Your housing options should be in your pathway plan. You should be able to visit any new home before you move in.

The council must look at what you want and make sure where you live meets your needs.

Your personal adviser should visit you in your new home to see how you’re getting on. Tell them if you’re unhappy about anything.

Continuing in foster care

You can sometimes stay in your foster carer’s home after you’re 18. This is called staying put. Ask your council about it.

Supported lodgings

If you're not ready to live on your own yet, ask your adviser about supported lodgings.

This is where you have a room in someone's home and spend some more time learning to cook, clean and manage your own money before you move out.

If you're a full time student

Social services must provide housing or give you money to rent somewhere if you can only stay in your student housing during term time.

This support continues until you turn 25 if you're in full time higher education or residential further education.

If you become homeless

If you're 18 or over, you can make a homeless application to the council's homeless team.

The council must usually provide emergency housing if you're:

  • pregnant or children live with you

  • under 21 and spent some time in care when 16 or 17

  • 21 or over and vulnerable because of your care history, a disability or other reason

You count as having a priority need for housing.

If you're 16 or 17, contact your personal adviser or emergency contact in your pathway plan. If you cannot contact them, the homeless team must give you emergency housing until children’s services finds you somewhere to live.

Housing advice from social services

You can ask your personal adviser for support if you're homeless before the age of 25.

The council's homeless team have the main responsibility for assessing your housing needs and providing help.

But social services must provide support under your pathway plan if you ask for it. For example, because of:

  • rent arrears

  • risk of homelessness

  • an abusive relationship

Benefits and help with rent

Between 16 and 17, social services will give you an allowance for things like:

  • food

  • clothes

  • transport

Your personal adviser should make sure you get the right amount. It should not be less than you would get from benefits.

You will not be able to get benefits until you’re 18 unless you’re a single parent or cannot work because of a disability or illness,

Once you're 18 you can usually claim universal credit (UC) to help with rent and living costs.

You can get the 1 bed self contained local housing allowance (LHA) rate if you're a care leaver under 25 and renting privately. This is paid as part of your UC.

If you have a shortfall between your benefits and your rent, you could ask your personal adviser if they can top up your benefits.

Check how much you could get on the entitledto benefits calculator

Still need help?

Find out more about your rights as a care leaver:

Last updated: 6 January 2023

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