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Half of homeless teenagers turned away by local authorities

Charity calls for all homeless teenagers to be assessed for housing needs

Councils are failing to protect thousands of vulnerable teenagers in England who face homelessness and who are being left to fend for themselves, according to research by The Children's Society.

Getting the House in Order, a new report, shows that each year 12,000 homeless 16 and 17-year-olds ask councils for help with housing but reveals that almost half are turned away. The charity says that councils are breaking the law by failing to even assess them.

More than four in five (80%) homeless 16 and 17-year-olds do not receive accommodation. Almost half (45%) of older homeless teenagers who asked for help did not receive an assessment.

The research based on Freedom of Information Requests – sent to 353 local councils and compiled from 259 responses – also reveals that homeless 16 and17–year-olds are rarely given the same support as children in care such as access to an advocate or financial support.

The report shows that even when homeless 16 and 17-year-olds are accommodated they face huge risks. Councils placed one in 12 (8%) 16 and 17-year-olds in Bed and Breakfasts (B&Bs), going against government guidance, which regards this type of accommodation as unsuitable. It has been well documented that B&Bs and hostels used to accommodate homeless people are targeted by sexual predators and drug dealers. Even where teenagers are housed in supported accommodation, the reality is that it may not be suitable as it is not inspected and is unregulated.

The Children's Society is calling for councils to co-ordinate their services and make sure that all teenagers who seek help for homelessness are assessed and given adequate support. B&B accommodation should be banned completely and hostels and supported accommodation should be regulated.

The charity is also lobbying the Government to make sure councils identify vulnerable 16 and 17-year-olds seeking help for homelessness, and provide them with flexible support, and the same protection as care leavers.

The report is here.

24/3/15