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National Homeless Advice Service

The realities of leaving home at a young age

For advisers, parents and carers of young people, there are key issues to be addressed about the realities of life outside the family home.



Reality check

The reality of housing options for young people will be very different from the situation experienced by their parents and grandparents, and even to that experienced by older peers and siblings. Long gone are the days when it was easy to find a council flat, or rent a one-bedroom flat and claim housing benefit, or easily find a job of apprenticeship. Long waiting lists for council properties, high demand leading to poor supply, along with benefit restrictions and the requirement for most young people claiming benefit to pay their rent to share with others, are just some of the several realities of making housing choices.

Giving young people and their parents a reality check about how challenging it can be to live independently at a young age will be an essential part of any early intervention and prevention strategy.

Good practice - Moving on Durham: Reality Check

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When is the best time for a young person to leave home?

Although the best time for a young person to leave a safe, secure family home will obviously be when they have thought about it and carefully planned it, it may be that other considerations will be more prominent in a young person’s mind.

Assumptions

Among the most common assumptions that young people still have about life outside the family home are that they will be:

  • fully independent
  • live in their own private space
  • have few or no rules to follow
  • be able to access benefits and housing

Realities

In reality, living independently brings with it several challenges:

  • bills to pay
  • restricted benefits paid to young people
  • access to education - many students do not receive any state benefits
  • managing money and dealing with debt
  • physical and emotional separation from family
  • domestic tasks
  • learning to live with other people (most young people under the age of 35 can only claim a shared accommodation rate of housing-related benefit).

Good practice - The Prodigals

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