There are strong financial and operational incentives for creating an effective pathway into accommodation and services for young people.
Support at age 16 or 17 enables young people to stabilise and to learn the skills they need to live independently before moving on to independent tenancies.
Having the ability to sustain those tenancies can reduce the risk of repeat homelessness in the future.
For some young people, housing-related support as defined by the Supporting People is insufficient for their needs.
Making a range of provision available, combined with the ability to respond flexibly to demand and the effective co-ordination of agencies’ efforts, allows scarce resources to be used to best effect.
Young people aged 16 and 17 who live in accommodation intended for their age group will be safer, and stand a better chance of making best use of the support available, than those living in general purpose temporary accommodation for homeless people, or even accommodation intended for younger adults aged 20 to 25.
Demand for accommodation and support is unpredictable, and can vary considerably from month to month and year to year.
Where numbers are generally small, a fluctuation of just 5 to 10 young people in the system can make the difference between a viable service and an non-viable one. Joint working between housing and Children’s Services can help to make the best use of resources.
A considerable amount of Children’s Services’ accommodation for younger children is not suitable (or acceptable) to children of 16 and 17 who are not already care leavers.
Young people who are owed a duty under the Children Act at age 16 or 17 should be offered assistance with accommodation under Section 20. This ensures that the options offered are more tailored to their needs and to a successful outcome, and which they are willing to engage with.
It is vital that Housing and Children’s Services take joint ownership of strategies for providing accommodation for 16 and 17 year olds who need statutory help with accommodation.
Supporting People teams should take the lead in the process of developing and managing the strategy, particularly in two-tier local authority areas.