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National Homeless Advice Service

Why have a strategy?

To achieve the best possible outcomes for young people in housing need, it is vitally important that the accommodation and support offered by local authorities is well matched to the young person’s needs and their ability to manage.

Planned progression

In this part of young people’s pathway to independence, progression is about planning moves based on needs and readiness to succeed. Too often young people who are homeless miss out on the experience of positive progression through different types of accommodation and/or support.

Flexibility and mobility is needed when so much is changing - especially in terms of work opportunities and relationships.

Managing this progression effectively requires a central accommodation gateway or similar arrangement. Through this, multiple agencies - principally Children’s Services and Housing Services - can access accommodation and offer specific support services to young people with greater needs.

Accommodation and support strategies for young people should therefore focus on providing them with:

  • the skills they will need to live and work independently
  • specialist support to make positive changes to behaviours, or to manage health issues which will negatively affect their life chances
  • safe, habitable accommodation until they are ready to make the transition to living independently.

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Why a commissioning-led approach is best

In many authorities the strategy is led by the Supporting People or Children’s Services commissioning team. This represents a shift over the last decade from a provider-led approach. This approach has left a legacy in a number of areas, including:

  • too many or too few accommodation places for the number of young people in housing need, or available accommodation being concentrated in the wrong areas
  • a mismatch between support resources and young people’s needs
  • inequalities in the support offers to young people with similar needs, based on their route into the accommodation and support pathway
  • a lack of flexibility in the matching and adjustment of support to individual young people’s needs
  • insufficient expertise and innovate capacity within authorities’ partners.

Strategic commissioning teams need to address these shortfalls in provision. They must ensure that there are effective lines of communication with and between withal partners involved with the strategy.

Appropriate systems will need to be put in place to support not only the processes, but the strategy itself.

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