Merton Council

Home Home Merton Adult Education Home Home Jobs in children's social care Home Merton Means Business Home Wandle Valley Low Carbon Zone Home Safeguarding Children Board
How do I contact my councillor?

Agenda item

Care Leavers and Young People Accommodation


Steve Langley, Head of Housing Need and Strategy, introduced the item based on the information available in the officer’s report and highlighted the following:

·         There are limited vacancies available for Merton’s care leavers.  Fifteen are allocated every calendar year.  Nominations are made by the Children, Schools and Families Department based on its assessment of readiness for independent living.  Nineteen young people have been nominated so far this year with 15 placements already successful filled;

·         Merton places no 16 – 17 year olds in bed and breakfast accommodation;

·         The Community & Housing and Children, Schools & Families Departments are working together daily to provide for young people coming out of care.  This provides robustness and challenge;

·         A Private Members Bill is currently going through Parliament focused on Homelessness Reduction.  This will place additional duties on local housing authorities to provide accommodation for homeless families and young people facing challenges living at home; and

·         The challenges currently facing provision of accommodation for care leavers include:

o   A shortage of supply.  Officers are currently considering options to maintain alternative arrangements if our access to social housing supply runs out.  This includes exploring the role of the private rented sector to provide accommodation for care leavers; and

o   The housing team receives a high number of personal representations but the authority still has the lowest number of homeless households and where reasonable, provides accommodation within borough.


In response to member questions, officers clarified:

·         Existing housing provision isn’t sufficient given current and growing numbers of care leavers.  Housing needs have been mapped across the Children, Schools and Families Department and the probation service.  This has highlighted the need to work with the Community & Housing Department and futureMerton to explore how to generate supply including options such as reconfiguring existing stock and larger shared accommodation;

·         Acknowledged that housing provision for care leavers is now all taken for this calendar year and that there are four young people currently awaiting a housing offer in alternative provision; and

·         Whilst there is acceptance of needing to look at a wider range of housing options, including private rented, it was emphasised that the housing offer must reflect the needs of individual young people.  The over-representation of mental health issues, youth offending and homelessness amongst the care leaver population was highlighted.


Councillor Neil reported that he had recently met with the Children in Care Council and had discussed accommodation.  It had been suggested to him by a care leaver that part of the Council’s support for progression into independence should be to facilitate a savings scheme during semi-independent living.  This could be used to provide budgeting experience and build up a financial buffer to allow a step into the private rented sector.  Action: Paul Angeli noted this for discussion at the Corporate Parenting Panel.


RESOLVED: For the Panel to consider accommodation for care leavers in partnership with the Sustainable Communities Panel supported by officers from the Children, Schools & Families, Community & Housing and Environment & Regeneration Departments either as a deep dive session at a Panel meeting or through a task group.  Panel members also thanked officers for their support of this item.


Supporting documents: