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Vulnerable teenagers forced out of local authority accommodation

The Children’s Society seeks guarantees that all LA accommodated children are properly safeguarded

A thousand vulnerable teenagers across the country are being evicted from accommodation provided by their local authority or made to leave at short notice every year, according to research from The Children's Society.
 
The charity's report, On Your Own Now: The risks of unsuitable accommodation for older teenagers, surveyed 119 housing providers used by local authorities to house vulnerable 16 and 17-year-olds. It found that half had either evicted or asked a child to move at short notice due to them getting behind on their rent and other bills, or factors like unemployment, violence or drugs.

Many of these young people face severe risks including drugs and legal highs, violence and deteriorating mental health.

There are currently an estimated 8,400 16 and 17-year-olds across the country living independently in accommodation such as hostels, and semi-supported accommodation. The report revealed that 85% of children placed in such accommodation were on benefits rather than receiving support from children's services.

As a result these children had to survive on their own with only minimal - or no - support. The Children's Society says that this lack of support for young people, who already have high levels of need, increases their vulnerability and leads them into more crisis situations. 

Instead of offering them more support when their problems increase, they often face being evicted to another home, or placed in increasingly worse accommodation such as bed and breakfasts and even face street homelessness.

The report found that currently, along with minimal regulation, staff are not required to have qualifications to support and safeguard young people. Nearly two-thirds of providers house adults up to the age of 25, which can leave these teenagers at risk of sexual exploitation or involvement in crime. 

The Children's Society is calling on the Government to introduce regulation which guarantees all children in this kind of accommodation are properly safeguarded. Housing providers should also receive the financial support they need to give these children the best standards of care.

The Secretary of State should also review guidance to make sure that vulnerable 16 and17-year-olds can never be left without support after being evicted. 

Sam Royston, Director of Policy and Research at The Children's Society, said:

"It is unacceptable that children are being evicted from the very places intended to keep them safe and prepare them for adulthood, often simply as a result of getting behind on bills or lacking the support they need to cope. Instead many are being denied the stability and safety they need.

"We know from our work with these children that whilst many housing providers give excellent support, too often older teens are being let down by the bodies that should be protecting them. All services involved in their care need to be giving them the right support to allow them to flourish."

The report is here.

27/9/15