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Support & benefits for care leavers

Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
edited December 2020 in Care Experienced Zone
Hi I'm new to this forum and just wanted to ask if anyone knew what kind of support & benefits there are for care leavers?
I'm 18 years old & a care leaver. I live in Scotland.
I am unemployed and get JSA at £53 a week.
at the moment I live on my own in a two bedroom council flat. I'm being made to pay the bedroom tax which is £28.83 a fortnight.
My rent was getting paid for me by through care & after care, but when I turned 18 this stopped. I am now in £480 rent arrears because I was late in applying for housing benefit. I didnt know anything about housing benefit or how to apply for it thats why it took me approx 6 weeks to apply for it after through care and after care stopped paying my rent.
I am also in council tax arrears as these letters confused me so I ignored them hoping it would all go away. :rolleyes:
Now I'm having to pay £10 a fortnight for council tax, £28.83 a fortnight for bedroom tax & £20 a fortnight for rent arrears which leaves me £47 fortnight. Then off the £47 I have to buy gas, electricity and food to last me two weeks. :eek2:
I cant do it! I always have to go without meals & often dont even bother getting gas because I cant afford it but leaves me without heating and hot water.
Is there any help i could get?
iv tried asking for a 1 bedroom flat or a discretionary housing payment, but my council wont listen to me and just ignores me saying thousands of people are applying for discretionary housing payments so it would be unlikely id get it, and if i did i wouldnt get much help any way. They also say there isnt any 1 bedroom flats for me.
Does anyone know anything about local allowance housing rates for private rented accommodation?
I was reading online that care leavers under 22 are exempt from the housing restrictions for people under 35, and that a care leaver could qualify for a one bedroom local allowance housing rate, which would apply to a one bedroom private rented flat.
Has any care leaver ever went down this road & how do I go about applying for it?
I would really like a one bedroom flat as that would mean I wouldnt have to pay bedroom tax.

Also - is there any other support for care leavers? or young people in general?

Sorry for the lots of questions, I just feel a bit lost and confused, like I am in a deadend and dont know what to do. :banghead:

Thanks :)
Post edited by Mike on

Comments

  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    When I left care it was all very different but it might be a very good idea to call your old social worker and ask for help. If not going to the local CAB might be very useful. Does the council know you are a care lever? Just because loads of other people are having to apply for DHP doesn't mean you shouldn't give it a try! I'm having to because I'm waiting on letters saying I need an overnight carer.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Hi there Gordon and welcome to the boards.
    Sorry to hear about the difficult time you're having at the moment after leaving care.
    There is lots of support and advice available to you and I am also sorry to hear that you haven't been able to access this.
    I think Miss_Riot's suggestion about contacting your old social worker is spot on. You are entitled to help until you're 21 and they should be able to provide this.
    I found this article on Shelter's website about support from social services for care leavers. http://england.shelter.org.uk/get_advice/homelessness/help_from_social_services/support_for_care_leavers

    Also, you can look on your council's website about how to apply for Discretionary Housing Payment. There may be a form you can complete (or ask your social worker to help you complete) and then you can hand this in. I know they said they have many people applying but they cannot refuse to accept your application.

    However in the long term, it might be best to move into somewhere more affordable, like you suggest a 1 bedroom place. Again social services should work with the housing department to ensure that you are able to access suitable accommodation for you.

    I know it's really frustrating having to deal with a big council and you feel like you are not being listened to. However, try to be persistent and get your social worker on board. If they are not available then try to speak to someone else in the social services department and tell them about your current situation.

    Failing all of that, you may wish to seek legal advice. Miss_Riot suggests Citizens Advice Bureau - http://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/
    You could also try your local law center.

    I hope this helps and you are able to access the support you need as soon as possible.

    :)
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