Isle of Wight Care Leavers

Support with Housing, Accommodation and Finance

The law says we must provide you with suitable accommodation and assistance with expenses linked with employment, education and training. We will also encourage you to stay in care until you are 18, but if you choose to leave care before the age of 18 we must provide you with suitable accommodation. 

There have also been some changes in the Housing legislation. This means that any care leaver who becomes homeless will be able to demonstrate a local connection to either:
 
  • The area of the local authority where they were looked after and who owes them leaving care duties.
  • For a care leaver under 21 years old - an area different to that of the authority who owed them the leaving care duties, where they have lived for at least 2 years, including some time before they were 16 years old.
 

Our other accommodation support we offer:
 
  • Supporting you to remain with your foster carer under what is called called a ‘Staying Put’ arrangement. This will be reviewed every six months to make sure it's meeting your needs.
  • Once you have reached the stage where you can live independently and maintain your tenancy, you will have the option to apply for social housing via the Isle of Wight Council for social housing (this accommodation is managed by a housing association). As a care leaver you may be eligible for additional priority. You can find the link to Island HomeFinder in the additional support services section below.
  • Support you to remain in the area that you were looked after as long as you have lived there for 2 years, including some time before you were 16. 
  • Support to prevent you from becoming homeless.
  • Have workshops to receive advice about holding down a tenancy, including avoiding rent arrears, paying bills, and budgeting effectively.
  • A 'Setting up Home allowance' of £2,000 (based on assessed need) for items you need to set up home like appliances, bedding and furniture.
  • If you don’t want to live on the Isle of Wight because you have family or friends or connections elsewhere, you will need to talk to your PA. Your PA can make contact with the Local Authority where you wish to live to see if they are able to assist you.
  • A decorating allowance if you are housed by Sovereign Housing to buy paint or wall paper. Or support to obtain paint and wall paper.
  • Support to put up shelves, curtain rails or assistance to assemble furniture.
  • Where possible, not making care leavers intentionally homeless on the Isle of Wight and being given a second chance if you run into problems with your accommodation.
  • AQA independent living skills programme to support you evidence your independent living skills.
 

Staying Put 

Staying with your foster carers beyond the age of 18 is called ‘Staying Put’. If you are currently with a foster carer, you have the option to remain in their care, if everyone agrees, and you have the option to remain there until you turn 21 years old. Rather than being a child in foster care, this arrangement is viewed as a lodger with a host and paid as such. This will not affect you getting a permanent tenancy, but enables you to choose when you feel ready to move onto independent living.  You will be expected to obtain Housing Benefit/Universal Credit and make a financial contribution towards the cost of ‘Staying Put’, if you are working.

Supported Accommodation/Semi-independent Living

This is accommodation where you are provided with independent accommodation but are able to get extra help and support from staff. Depending on the type of supported accommodation, the staff might only be there for certain parts of the day. As with any adult accommodation, you will be expected to abide by the rules or risk losing the accommodation.

Supported Lodgings

You can choose to rent a room in a house of a ‘host’. Similar to Staying Put, this means that you would be a lodger in the home.

Shared accommodation

If you decide to live in shared accommodation, as a care leaver 18-21 years old, you will be able to claim the higher-rate one-bedroom rate housing benefit to help cover the cost.

Private accommodation

If you choose to enter privately rented accommodation, you will be solely responsible for managing the tenancy and paying the bills, including gas, electric, phones, water etc.  This is a huge jump from living with a foster carer, so often supported accommodation is better initially to prepare you for this as a next step.

Setting Up Home Allowance

We will support you with a Setting Up Home Allowance, if you move to independent living. You may hear your PA calling this an ‘Independent Living Fund’ or ‘ILF’. This can be quite exciting and scary at the same time, as it means you are about to take a huge step to live independently. When you are ready to move on to independent living, we will pay up to £2,000 for essential items, based on a single young person moving into a one-bedroom flat. This money will not be offered as one lump sum, and we will not replace essential items once they are purchased; we will only purchase them once. Your setting up home monies will be accessible based on your individual needs and the type of accommodation that you are moving into.
 
Everyone has to budget and therefore setting up home is an opportunity to really explore what is available ‘out there’, from free items, to up-cycling, or purchasing new. The PAs are aware of what is classed as an essential item and can share this with you. We will pay for your first TV license, however you will need to fund this after the first year and will need to budget for this. You are able to pay your TV license in monthly instalments, although this will be slightly more expensive. You can pay your TV license online.

 

Finances

We will try to help you financially, in a similar way to how parents would support their own children. 
 
The law and guidance says depending on assessment of need, provide financial assistance towards expenses relating to education, employment or training and also access to other sources of funding such as college or university funds, from charities or from the Department of Work and Pensions.
 
Our additional support offer includes:
 
  • Being exempt from council tax until the age of 25, from April 2019
  • Providing you with relevant money management courses
  • Information on how to access your junior ISA, if you have one (a fund of money set aside by the government and the council).
  • Support to open a bank account.
  • Support to obtain important identification documents, such as a passport and or provisonal driving licence before your 18th birthday.
  • Support to get your national insurance number.
  • Financial support in exceptional emergencies.
  

My money

It is expected that once you turn 18 you will immediately claim Universal credit/ benefits. Up until that point, you would have received a weekly personal allowance or pocket money from the Isle of Wight Council. However, once you turn 18, you are officially an adult and therefore are entitled to social benefits to meet you day-to-day expenses. Because we know that it does not always run smoothly claiming benefits, we would expect you to request an advance payment at the time of making your initial benefit claim, which your PA will support you to do.     

If you are an unaccompanied asylum seeking care leaver, your personal allowance payments will continue whilst you are awaiting the outcome of your asylum claim and you are therefore unable to claim social benefits, or work. However, if you are deemed ‘All Rights Exhausted’, the support offered to you will be reviewed in line with the Immigration Act 2016 and you will be referred to the Home Office.

Universal Credit is quite new and is replacing other forms of social benefit. It is important that you speak to your PA about what you need to claim in your area, as each district may be at a different stage of changing over to Universal Credit at this time.

It is important that you think about how much money you have and budget so that you do not end up in debt. There are various agencies, including the Citizen’s Advice Bureau, and some local charities who will work with you to create a budgeting plan if you run into difficulties. They can also write to any companies you have debt with to explain how much money you are living on and to set up a realistic repayment plan. 

As an adult, you cannot ignore debt, as this will simply make matters worse.  Please speak to your PA if you have any questions about debt, or about social benefits. 

Other Payments

There may be times when you hit crisis, or have an unexpected bill, such as for dental treatment. Whilst we do not have to pay for these, please speak to your PA and it will be considered whether we should financially support you with whatever issue has arisen. It is important to remember that our role is also to prepare you for adulthood and, as such, we are not simply here to ‘bail you out’ every time you hit a crisis, therefore support and advice may not mean financial support. We can often sign post you to the right agency to help resolve issues. 

Additional support services

For links to the Department for Working Pensions benefits calculator and Island HomeFinder, please see the links tab.