If you are in foster care and you and your carers would like you to stay there after you reach 18, you may do so as part of a plan to help you achieve greater independence and be ready to move on to a place of your own. How long you stay will depend upon your needs and situation but it can sometimes continue until you reach 21 years of age.
As you will be an adult, you will no longer be in foster care and the new arrangements will be agreed between you and your former foster carer. We will support the arrangement financially, but you will be expected to contribute towards the cost of living there. This is currently £34.33 per week, if you stay without any meals you will need to pay £17.23 for heating, electricity etc. You will support yourself for your day to day needs and if you are eligible for benefits, you will claim the housing element for the rent. This is paid directly to your former foster carer or through your bank (Direct Debit). Your Personal Adviser can help you set this up.
Housing is usually handled by the district councils rather than the County Council. Each district will have a slightly different approach to the way they deal with accommodation. For further information on accommodation available in each of the five districts you might want to look at their accommodation sites:
This is where you would have your own room in a private house and would live as a part of the household, but you would not be expected to join in with everything like a member of the family. Financial arrangements are similar to Staying Put and you would be expected to contribute £34.33 per week for living there.
Supported accommodation is provided by a number of different organisations within Cambridgeshire and is generally for young people aged 16-25. This could be a hostel, shared house or self-contained flat. Some accommodation is staffed 24 hours a day. You would have your own furnished room as a minimum but would normally be expected to share some facilities such as bathrooms, kitchens, lounges and laundry. You will usually be offered support by a key worker who you will meet regularly to discuss how you are getting on. You will be expected to make a contribution towards your rent depending upon your income and will claim the housing benefit element of Universal Credit to cover the rest of your rent.
When you are ready to manage your own accommodation you can register for social housing. Your current accommodation provider or your Personal Adviser can support you to do this.
Homelink is the choices-based letting scheme for council and housing association properties across Cambridgeshire and West Suffolk. Once you have completed your online application you will be given a banding and bidding number and you can then bid on appropriate properties in the area you would like to live. There is a shortage of council and Housing Association properties across Cambridgeshire so you may have to wait a long time before being successful.
Renting privately is not recommended, this is where you rent from a landlord either through a letting agency or directly. There can sometimes be problems with private landlords not accepting people who are on benefits or in college, and also wanting someone to be a guarantor for the rent (in case it is not paid and for any damage caused). The Council is unable to be a guarantor in regards to any rental arrangements social or private.
You will usually be asked to sign a tenancy for six or 12 months. If you are eligible, you can still get the housing element of Universal Credit if you rent privately but you would only receive the (care leaver) higher rate of housing benefit up to your 22nd birthday, so it is important to be realistic about how much you can afford. You will often be expected to pay a deposit (usually the equivalent of a month’s rent) and at least a month’s rent in advance. Assistance with deposits for private rented accommodation will only be considered where all other alternatives have been explored and it is clear there are no other suitable alternatives to renting privately.
Housing projects, local schemes and charities
There may be a number of alternative options, dependent on your circumstances and where you want to live, your Personal Adviser will discuss these opportunities with you if you are eligible.
Some young people decide to return home to family or relatives once they are 18 or over. If you are considering doing this you should talk to your Personal Adviser and other adults you trust first.
It is important not to rush into anything and to consider why it was that you were not able to live at home when you were younger and whether it would be safe or suitable now.
If you do return to live with your family, your Personal Adviser will continue to visit you and support you for at least six months after you return home to check all is going well. Once you have been home six months you can still contact the Leaving Care Service for advice and support but you would not be entitled to any financial assistance.
If you are over 18 and become homeless or are at risk of homelessness you need to make an appointment with the District Council where you have a local connection. This may not be the area where you are living at the moment. Your Personal Adviser will be able to help you identify where you have a local connection.
Your local council has an obligation to assess your case and should provide you with temporary accommodation for a period of up to 28 days while they make this assessment. When doing this they may wish to speak to your previous landlord to better understand your current situation.
If you could have avoided becoming homeless (intentionally homeless) - leaving suitable accommodation you could have stayed in or forced to leave because of something you did or failed to do your local council does not have to provide accommodation, but should still offer housing advice.
Your Personal Adviser will support and advise you in such circumstances, but Social Care is not responsible for providing accommodation for Care Leavers over the age of 18.
Prior to leaving care we encourage you to begin to plan for when you leave care and start purchasing small items with the support of their foster carers or residential workers. Young people who have savings and or entitlements to benefits such as DLA will be expected to fund or make a contribution to the cost of setting up home.
When you leave care and move into semi-independent or independent accommodation we have a duty to provide you with a setting up home allowance of £2000. You will be supported by your Personal Adviser to identify essential household items to set up your home.
You can prepare yourself before you move by having a clear idea of what you need and how much it will cost. The most expensive household items will probably be kitchen appliances and flooring. It’s not a good idea to get a loan from a bank or enter into a hire purchase (HP) agreement. Repayments can be high, and you may end up paying back more than the items actually cost.
The following list is just an example of some of the things your setting up home allowance can be used for. You will only be supported to purchase an item once and the expectation is you will need to take the item with you if you move or replace it yourself if it breaks or is destroyed:
- Furniture (e.g. bed, sofa, wardrobe and dining table)
- Cooking appliance
- Washing Machine
- Saucepan set
- 2 sets of bedding
- duvet and 2 pillows
- 2 sets of towels
- Curtains for 2 rooms
- Flooring for 2 rooms
- First TV license
- First years of content insurance.
You should not buy anything without the support of your Personal Adviser that you are hoping to claim back from your leaving care grant funds. As purchases are assessed against your needs and it is meant for a wide range of things – not just a one off expensive item such as a sofa or bed. It is to help you with some / all of the above items so we try and support you spending this wisely and to be of the most benefit to you.