Help and housing for care leavers

Leaving care is a big step – here’s how your local council will support you through the process

If you are a care leaver you may be able to get housing and other help fromKnowsley Council & Knowsley Housing Options. The help you get mainly depends on your age.

The local authority will:

  • Assign you a Personal Advisor who will help you to prepare to live independently and will work with you to develop a plan (called a pathway plan) so that you can agree what support you will receive, from whom and when.
  • Ensure you are heard and that you’re involved in decisions. The Knowsley Advocacy Hub can also help up to the age of 21 years, or 24 years for those with a learning disability. Contact them on : 0151 426 3174 Mobile : 07484 935748 or email knowsley-advocacy@together-uk.org
  • Encourage you to stay in care until you are 18 years old and ensure you are fully informed with the facts if you choose to leave.
  • Help you to secure suitable accommodation or the option of staying with your foster carer(s) until you are 21 years old.
  • Help you to access education, training and employment and this includes financial support if you want to attend university.

Housing help for 16 and 17 year old care leavers

If:

  • 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 Knowsley Council or Knowsley Housing Options service. 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.

You can also get advice from Shelter’s directory located at https://england.shelter.org.uk/get_help Or Citizens Advice. This service is free and confidential.

Financial support for 16 or 17 year old care leaversadvice about managing your finances is available from your Personal Advisor

Most 16 or 17 year old care leavers are not eligible for benefits. The Children’s Services department of Knowsley Council must help you by:

  • Providing housing or helping you find and keep your own place
  • Supporting you financially by paying you enough for 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.

Other useful organisations that can help you are:

  • Centre 63’s Youth Enquiry Service providing housing and benefit support for young people in Knowsley up to the age of 25 years.
  • The Big Help Project run Knowsley Foodbank, Jubilee Debt Advice and ‘Homes with Style’ shop in Huyton Village, offering new white goods, electricals, furniture and paint.
  • Enterprise Credit Union offers low cost loans and saving options to its members – anyone who lives or works in Knowsley can join. 

Find out more from Turn2Us about benefit rules for care leavers by visiting https://www.turn2us.org.uk

Housing help for 18 to 21 year old care leavers

If you are aged 18 to 21, you can get help from both Knowsley Council’s Children’s services and the Housing Options service. You are automatically classed as being in ‘priority need’ until your 21st birthday, which means that the Housing Options service should help you find a place to live.

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 as being in priority need until your 21st birthday. 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.

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.

Housing help for 21 years old and above care leavers

Some older care leavers can get accommodation from the Housing Options service if they are in priority need. For example, this may be the case if you:

  • are vulnerable as a result of having been in care
  • haven’t had a stable home since you left care
  • have slept on the streets in the past

Other support for care leavers aged 18 to 24

As a care leaver you should continue to receive help and advice from Knowsley Council until your 21st birthday, or 25th if you are still in education or training.

Children’s services can help you by providing assistance with education and training until your 25th birthday.

Your personal adviser should still keep in touch and should go over your pathway plan with you to see how you are getting on.  Ask Social Services to help you if you need support to continue with your education or find training or employment. They may be able to help with the cost of living near your college, training centre or workplace.

Help for all care leavers

The council’s role

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 Knowsley Council or call Shelter’s helpline on 0808 800 4444 if you need emergency housing or support.

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’ve been in care, this doesn’t apply until you turn 22. You should be entitled to 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.

Extra help for moving into a new place

If you are a care leaver moving to a new place, 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.

Help for homeless care leavers

Most young people who have been in care are entitled to help if they become homeless. The help you are entitled to usually depends on your age and personal circumstances.

What is a local connection?

If you have been provided with accommodation by a local authority and you are normally living in an area for a continuous period of two years or more and some or all of this period falls before you are 16 years of age, then you have a local connection with that area.

Help and advice for homeless care leavers

Get advice if you become homeless. Use Shelter’s directory to find an adviser in your local area, or call Shelter’s helpline on 0808 800 4444.

For more information on the council’s work in this area please access information on the Knowsley Council web site at www.knowsley.gov.uk