West Sussex is a large county, made up of 7 District and Boroughs. We support young people in each of these areas and we see each young person as an individual with individual needs. We provide support with accessing a wide range of accommodation options across the county in response to this. We will work hard to find the right housing for you at the right time and we will make sure you always have an option of somewhere to live while you are open to our Service. The options available to you change when you reach 18 and we hope the following will help you understand what is available to you at each point of your journey. Understanding different types of housing and understanding what is and isn’t available to you can be very confusing – please remember, we are here to support you, just pick up the phone if you need support with anything!
When you are 16 and 17, you are a ‘Young Person We Care For’. This means your Social Worker will make sure you have somewhere to live. This is usually either in:
From 16, you and your Social Worker will start planning where you would like to live when you are 18. Your Personal Advisor (PA) from the Leaving Care Service will support with planning as they start working with you at 17. A very important part of this planning will be a Care Leaver Joint Housing Planning Meeting. This is a meeting with our District & Borough Housing Departments to discuss accommodation options open to you at and beyond 18.
The legal responsibility to provide housing for you changes at 18 and moves from West Sussex County Council to the Housing Departments in our District and Boroughs. It is important to know this as it means we are not able to help in the same way before you turned 18. We will, however, provide support and advice to you to find the accommodation that is right and will support you with this at least until your 21st Birthday. We have a specialist Housing Support Worker in our service who works hard to ensure the young people we support have somewhere safe and secure to live.
There are many different types of housing in West Sussex and what is available to you will depend on your circumstances, if you are subject to any immigration control, how ready you are to live more independently and what housing is available at the time that you turn 18. The Care Leavers Joint Housing Planning Meeting will help plan a clear pathway for you to move towards independent living and help you understand where you will be living from 18 onwards.
Many young people are not yet ready to live independently at 18, and we have different types of supported housing available to help build skills to become ‘tenancy ready’.
This is somewhere to live that has additional support from a keyworker. The keyworker will help you with any challenges you are facing and support you to develop the skills you need to live independently. Your keyworker will work closely with your PA and will support you to meet the goals set out in your Pathway Plan. In supported housing, you will need to pay a ‘service charge’, which is a weekly payment that covers bills such as electricity and heating for your home. You may also need to pay rent in supported housing, but this will depend on if you work and how much you earn.
Supported housing is available in areas across West Sussex and range from larger Foyer type projects, to much smaller semi-independent housing, which is like having your own place with a little extra support. Many young people will start off living in a Foyer type project and move to semi-independent housing once ready to live more independently. The final step from here is usually moving into your own independent private or social housing. Your keyworker and PA will support you to apply to move into and move on from supported housing.
If you and your Foster Carer agree, one option is for you to remain living with your Foster Carer after you turn 18. This ‘Staying Put’ agreement can continue until you are 21 years old or up to 25 if you are in education. This arrangement is only available if you are in Foster Care at 18 and is ideal if you are not yet ready to live independently. You will need to be enrolled at college or university before you reach 21 to be able to stay in Staying Put past this age. You will be expected to pay rent each week (£10) and reviews should take place at least every six months to make sure all is well in the Staying Put agreement. Your ‘Staying Put’’carers will work closely with your PA to help move you on into independent housing once you are ready. If you and your Carers wish you to remain living there after the Staying Put arrangement ends, you can enter a ‘private agreement’ where you are responsible for paying full rent.
Like Staying Put, it is possible to remain living in Supported Lodgings until you are 21 years old or up to 25 if you are still in education. You will need to be enrolled at college or university before you reach 21 to be able to stay in Supported Lodgings past this age. There will be regular reviews to ensure you are getting the support you need to develop your independent living skills and to make sure you feel this is the right place for you to live. Your PA will support you to move on from Supported Lodgings when the time is right.
‘Social housing’ is accommodation owned by Councils and Housing Associations. It is generally more secure (you have more rights and can usually live there longer) and is more affordable than ‘private rented’ housing. In West Sussex, access to social housing is managed by our District and Borough Councils and you will need to apply to one or more of these to join a ‘housing register’. This is a waiting list for accessing social housing. Each District and Borough set their own criteria on who can access their housing register and the process can be quite complicated. It can take a long time once registered to be successful in accessing a tenancy. We will try to get you on at least one housing register at 16 years old, to give you the best opportunity of moving when you are over 18 and ready to manage your own tenancy. Your Social Worker, keyworker or PA will support you with this process, so you don’t need to worry about what to do and who to speak to. We will encourage you to apply to the area where you want to live and where you will feel the most comfortable and most settled.
Private rented housing can be accessed directly via private landlords or through letting agents. This can either be a ‘self-contained’ flat where you have use of your own bathroom and kitchen or ‘shared’ accommodation where one or both are shared with others. There are lots of things to consider when looking to move into private rented housing but don’t worry – your PA will help you every step of the way.
The first thing you need to do is decide what accommodation is best for you and your circumstances. You need to decide where you would like to live and then look for somewhere that is suitable and affordable for you. If you are working, you will need to be prepared to pay towards your rent from your wages. Depending on your hours worked and your income, you may be entitled to claim the Housing Element of Universal Credit to help pay your rent. If you are not currently working or if you are studying at college your rent will likely be paid by Universal Credit, so it is important you look for properties that are within the maximum Local Housing Allowance (LHA) limit. As a Care Leaver, you are entitled to the one-bedroom rate of LHA up until your 25th birthday, so please ensure you look for properties that are within this limit in the area you are looking to move to. Your PA will help you every step of the way and we also have a Housing Support worker who will work with you individually to find a home that is right for you!
Your landlord will make checks to ensure you are the right person to move into the property once you have found one you like. They need to check you have the ‘right to rent’ in the UK and will usually ask to take a copy of your passport as proof of this. Other checks may include asking for proof of income and a reference from your previous housing. This is a standard thing that everyone who rents somewhere must do and we will support you to get the information that is asked for.
A guarantor is someone who ensures the rent is paid to the landlord when they don’t receive it from the tenant. Many landlords require confirmation of a guarantor before agreeing someone to move in. We may be able to act as a guarantor to the property you move into. Your PA will support you with this and an agreement from us will follow an assessment of your needs and be depend on things like whether you are ready to live independently and if the property you would like to move into is suitable and affordable.
Most private rented agreements will require a ‘deposit’. This is an upfront payment up to the value of 5 weeks rent which is kept in a ‘Tenancy Deposit Scheme’ until the end of your tenancy. This is to make sure you return your home in the same condition as when you moved in. For example, if your walls were white when you moved in, you painted them blue and didn’t paint them back to white when you moved out, they would use some of the deposit to return the walls to its original colour.
Moving into your own private accommodation will also mean finding money upfront for rent. This is usually one month but can be up to six months’ rent in advance, especially if a guarantor is not available.
Our District and Borough Housing Departments may be able to support you financially to move into your own private accommodation and your PA will request a meeting to discuss what help they may be able to offer. If this is not successful, we can support you to access funds needed for a deposit and rent in advance if we agree following an assessment it is the right time for you to live independently and if the housing you would like to move into is considered suitable and affordable.
Once you have passed the reference checks and found the funds needed to move in – this is where your independence journey begins!
Before you move into your home, you will be asked to sign a tenancy agreement; this is a contract between you and the landlord that will cover things such as:
Both you and the landlord will sign this and once that is done you are ready to move in!
If you are studying at Chichester College, you may have the opportunity to live on campus in their Halls of Residence. If you are going away to university, you will need to apply for Student Finance to pay rent for where you live during your studies. Your PA will help you with the application and through the process of applying for university. We will pay for your accommodation out of term time when you are at university. If you are going to university locally, we can keep your Staying Put placement open until you finish your studies. If you are going away, you can still return to your Staying Put accommodation out of term time.
For some young people leaving care, returning to live with a family member can be an option. If you are looking to live back with your family, we will support you to do this and ensure this will meet your needs.
For young people with more severe and enduring disabilities you may need more support than general needs housing can offer to live independently. For example, you may have overnight care needs. Options might include Shared Lives, Residential or funded Supported Housing. Your PA and adult Social Worker will talk to you about this as part of the assessment process and transition planning.
You will initially be placed in housing that will provide you with 24-hour support. The type of accommodation will be dependent on the assessment of your needs. As your independent living skills develop, your PA will assess your suitability to move on to more independent accommodation. We know this move can feel difficult for some people, but it is important all children and young people initially coming into our care have access to 24-hour support. When the time is right for you to move on to more independent accommodation, your PA will support you with this move. You will still be expected to engage with a Keyworker at more independent accommodation but this will be on an arranged basis by a visiting member of staff rather than one based at your accommodation.
The local authority does not own the properties we have available for asylum seekers; they are run by private organisations. All of these organisations have entered into a contract with West Sussex County Council (WSCC) to maintain their housing to an acceptable standard and will address any difficulties that may arise in a timely manner.
If the Home Office has granted you Leave to Remain by the age of 21, your PA will support you to access one of the accommodation options described earlier in this section. If you receive any other outcome from the Home Office before or after the age of 21, please refer to the Finance Section for more details on what is available to you.
If you are living outside of West Sussex, you will need to choose whether you wish to remain living in the area you currently live or whether you would like to move back to West Sussex. If you like where you live and want to remain in the area, we will work with your local housing department to support you move into either supported or independent private rented accommodation. We will also make attempts to apply to the local housing register, however meeting Local Connection criteria can be difficult to demonstrate if you have not lived there for long. Each Local Authority has an ‘Allocation Policy’ which sets out their rules on Local Connection. If you would like to return to West Sussex, we will arrange for you to have a housing assessment with the District or Borough where you would like to live. Your PA will work closely with the housing department to support you to move into either a form of supported housing or into private rented accommodation. We will also support you to apply to a housing register, so you have a possibility of accessing social housing once you are ready to live independently.
If you find yourself in a situation where you may be homeless, please contact your PA immediately. If you cannot get through, please contact the Leaving Care Helpline, there should be someone available 24 hours per day. We may approach the District or Borough housing departments for support with accommodation in an emergency. There is no guarantee that any accommodation offered in an emergency will be in your local area, however it will be a short-term solution to allow time to resolve any difficulties that may have led to your homelessness and begin the search for more secure and independent housing. We are here to help you and will do everything we can to make sure you are safe and have somewhere to stay.
These things are available to you as part of our offer and will be helpful for you when preparing to move and once you have moved:
Your PA can support you to access training that helps you learn the skills to prepare for independence. This is called the Resettlement Passport and is an online tenancy skills course designed to improve your skills and confidence when preparing for independent living and managing a tenancy of your own. The course is made up of 10 units covering key areas of managing your home. If you are planning to move into either private or social housing, you will need to have completed this course to demonstrate you are in the best position to manage a tenancy.
You don’t have to move things on your own, your PA will help you or we can pay for a removals company to safely move your belongings to your new home. We can also help buy bags and boxes to help with moving. If you don’t have a suitcase we can provide one to you. Any cost involved in moving will be covered by the Leaving Care Service.
This is an allowance of up to £3,000 which is used to set up your home and buy the things you need when you first move in. The things you can spend your SUHA on are washing machines, kitchen appliances, furniture, and television. If you are subject to immigration controls and waiting for a decision on your Leave to Remain, you will not be entitled to your Setting Up Home Allowance. This is because all you need during this time will be provided for you. If you are open to Lifelong Services and do not have a PA, they will contact the Care Leaving Service to access your Setting Up Home Allowance funds for you. You can find out more about the SUHA in Finance.
Until you are 22, you won’t pay any council tax, no matter how much you earn or where you live in the country. If you are entitled to any exemptions, a single person’s discount, and/or council tax benefit, we will support you to apply for these first and we will pay any difference. If you are entering into a joint tenancy with a partner of friend, we will pay 50% of the council tax for the property. To find out more about this, please visit the finance section of this offer.