Social Workers Raise Alarm Over Care Leavers At University Being Deemed Intentionally Homeless

Social Workers Raise Alarm Over Care Leavers At University Being Deemed Intentionally Homeless

Charlotte Webster-

Social workers and advocates for young people are raising alarm over a growing crisis involving university students who are care leavers  being deemed intentionally homeless and are at risk of losing their accommodation.

This issue has been brought to the forefront amid a sharp decline in social housing, compounded by the demolition of homes and insufficient rental accommodation.

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Experts in the field fear that the system is failing care leavers from vulnerable backgrounds who need extra support, and leaving them to navigate their way through life despite the very difficult childhood they have had.

The traumatic effect of being abandoned by one’s biological parents is a lot more far reaching than the government is given due credit,.

Since 2018, care leaver homelessness among 18 to 22-year-olds has surged by 33%, with one-third of care leavers experiencing homelessness within the first two years after leaving care, the troubling trend highlighting a significant gap in the support system for some of the most vulnerable individuals in society.

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The alarm was raised following a report by The ByLine Times  featuring riiversity students in danger of losing their accommodation because they are at university.

Social work manager, Sally Moran, told The Eye Of Media.Com: ‘The flawed logic of intentional homelessness is expressed in the Housing Act 1996,  which describes a person as being considered to have made themselves intentionally homeless if they have deliberately done, or failed to do, something which results in the loss of their accommodation, or if they turn down housing that would have been reasonable for them to stay in.

‘This position is fundamentally flawed when applied to care leavers who move for higher education.

‘According to government guidance, an act or omission should not generally be treated as deliberate if it is forced upon the applicant through no fault of their own. Despite this, local authority discretion has left care leavers in higher education struggling to find stable housing. This is both unfair and contrary to the government’s duty to protect these vulnerable young people.

‘The Children and Social Work Act 2017 mandates that local authorities must provide a range of support services to care leavers until they are 25.

‘This includes housing support and the right to a personal adviser. Yet, there is no legal requirement for local authorities to ensure care leavers have secure housing after completing their education, leaving a critical gap in their protection.

‘Care leavers often come from backgrounds that necessitate greater protection and support. They are thrust into independence at 18, expected to navigate adult responsibilities while still developing emotionally and mentally.

‘The current stance that labels them intentionally homeless for seeking education is not only insensitive but also counterproductive, as it discourages them from pursuing opportunities that could break the cycle of poverty and instability.

The London Borough of Newham, which has the highest number of households in temporary accommodation, highlights the severity of the housing crisis. Nationally, the average is 17 per 1,000 households, but Newham’s rate is a staggering 53 per 1,000. This reflects a broader issue that exacerbates the difficulties faced by care leavers.

Charities looking after foster children  also want to see the government change the law.

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