Supporting young people leaving care in Scotland: regulations and guidance

Regulations and guidance on services for young people ceasing to be looked after by local authorities in Scotland.

Regulations and Guidance on Services for Young People Ceasing to be Looked After by Local Authorities


Principles of accommodation

9.1 The provision of suitable accommodation can make an enormous difference to a young person in making a successful transition to adult living. Not all young people will be looking to move from their current placements and these young people should be encouraged to remain where they are until the time to move is right for them. The pathways assessment and plan will have set out what kind of accommodation best meets the needs of the young person and how this is to be obtained. Moving to new accommodation can be stressful and authorities will want to make sure that the levels of support they provide meet the needs of each individual. Some young people will need more support than others and authorities should have a range of services which addresses these differences.

National Care Standards

9.2 National Care Standards for Housing Support Services are used by the Care Commission to monitor the quality of housing support services. They describe what individuals can expect from the service provider.

Duties of local authorities

9.3 Where the responsible authority has assisted a compulsorily or a discretionarily supported person by providing them with or supporting them in accommodation the authority must ensure that any such accommodation is suitable. This means that a young person's particular health issues should be taken into account when considering whether accommodation meets a young person's needs. Consideration should also be given to where the accommodation is located. For example, it may be important for a young person to be close to support networks or to have easy transport links to their place of study or employment. Young people should not be placed in unsuitable bed and breakfast or hostel accommodation. However, it is recognised that some young people will want to stay in accommodation that may not be considered suitable by the authority. These issues should be explored in the pathway plan and the young person's wishes taken into account.

Regulation 14

9.4 While there is no one model of accommodation provision, supported lodgings, shared accommodation, and independent tenancies should be available for young people. Accommodation and support services should be flexible and focus on the individual needs of the young person:

  • reflecting the realities of young people's lifestyles
  • ensuring a balance of needs when accepting referrals
  • ensuring young people are involved in decision making with regards to how accommodation projects are developed, managed and evaluated
  • ensuring young people are listened to and their views acted on
  • ensuring young people are given the opportunity to gain skills at their own pace
  • ensuring shared accommodation models are modest in scale.

9.5 Young people should be given the maximum security of tenure appropriate to their accommodation. Where local authorities have responsibility for meeting young people's rent costs this should not interfere in any way with their statutory or common law rights as tenants. When living in self-contained social rented flats Scottish Secure Tenancies should normally be offered (in line with the Housing (Scotland) Act 2001). When living in social rented shared accommodation SFHA Model Occupancy Agreements should normally be used. In specialist forms of supported accommodation, occupancy agreements should maximise occupancy rights including periods of notice.

9.6 Accommodation providers should be involved in the throughcare and aftercare planning process of individual young people to ensure that appropriate accommodation is being offered and that young people are familiar with the provider.

9.7 The accommodation in which a young person resides when ceasing to be looked after should not be a barrier to them progressing in other areas of their lives and the location of the young person's accommodation should be in an area where the young person does not fear attack or harassment as a result of discrimination.

9.8 If the accommodation provider will come into direct contact with the young person references should be taken up and appropriate checks carried out. These checks should satisfy authorities that the accommodation is safe and appropriate.

Regulation 14(2)(b)

9.9 One of the main worries for young people in further or higher education is their accommodation arrangements during vacations. Local authorities will therefore need to ensure they are aware of the accommodation terms and make arrangements to cover any vacation gap.

Regulation 14(3)

9.10 Local authorities should bear in mind the provisions of section 30 of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995. This empowers authorities to give financial assistance towards the expenses of education or training of a young person under the age of 21 who at the time of ceasing to be of school age was being looked after by the local authority. Contributions can also be made to the cost of accommodation and maintenance of such a person in any place where he or she may be receiving such education or training. These powers are exercisable until the young person reaches the age of 21 or, if over 21, until they finish the course of education or training. If after they have reached 21, the course is interrupted, assistance may only be continued if they resume the course as soon as practicable.

9.11 Assistance may be granted to enable a young person who at the time of ceasing to be of school age was being looked after by the local authority, to meet expenses in respect of contributions to the accommodation and maintenance of the person in any place near their employment.

Homelessness legislation

9.12 The Housing (Scotland) Act 2001 requires local authorities to undertake an assessment of housing needs and conditions in their area and produce a Local Housing Strategy. It is for individual authorities to determine local priorities but their Local Housing Strategy must complement Community Plans and the Homelessness Strategy. Local authorities will want to ensure that the needs of their young people ceasing to be looked after are reflected in the Local Housing Strategy.

9.13 The Homelessness etc. (Scotland) Act 2003 has amended section 25 of the Housing (Scotland) Act 1987. This amendment means that persons aged 16 or 17 assessed as homeless are now included in the statutory definition of applicants to be considered as having a priority need for accommodation. In addition, anyone assessed as homeless who is aged 18 to 20 who was looked after by a local authority when they ceased to be of school age or at any subsequent time will also be considered to be in priority need. However, this legislation should not be used as the main route for accessing accommodation for young people ceasing to be looked after.

Supporting people

9.14 Some formerly looked after young people received assistance with housing support services to 1 April 2003 under the arrangements for Transitional Housing Benefit. New arrangements for housing support services were introduced on 1 April 2003 under the Supporting People initiative and careleavers will still be able to access these services. Local authorities will want to ensure that that the needs of young people ceasing to be looked after are reflected and addressed within their Supporting People Strategy.



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