Making the difference for young people moving on from care
Choice based letting
Choice based letting replaces the historic method of allocating social housing. Prior to choice based letting local authorities would simply allocate available properties, appropriate for that persons needs, to those who had reached the ‘top’ of the housing list. Within choice based letting each applicant is awarded ‘currency’ or is placed in a ‘band’ on the housing register and is able to bid for vacant properties suitable to their needs that are advertised by the local authority. If there is more than one bid the applicant with the highest currency/band will be successful. The system relies on the applicant being proactive in making bids and systems usually allow for properties to be advertised in a variety of ways, including local papers, internet, in council offices and bids to be accepted by email, in person or by phone/text. Those who are deemed to be in priority need (which can include certain care leavers) are usually given a high currency, although this will usually be for a limited period of time. The Government expects that all local authorities will be operating choice based letting by 2010, and some local authorities are including private sector leasing and low cost home ownership properties in their schemes.
Local Housing Allowance
In private rented accommodation there is a new way of calculating housing benefit, called local housing allowance (LHA), which is dependant on the locality, size of the property, number of occupants and the size of the household. The LHA will be set for the average property of each type of property (e.g. studio flat) in the locality. Tenants have a choice of finding a property where the rent is either the same, higher or lower than the LHA. The allowance is then paid directly to the claimant who will have to make up the rent if the property is more expensive or will be able to keep the difference (up to £15 a week) if the rent is cheaper. For young people under 25 the maximum LHA is subject to a shared room restriction, which means the entitlement will be limited to the cost of a single room in a shared house. This does not apply to care leavers until they reach their 22nd birthday, but will apply from 22 until they are 25 years of age. The shared room rent restriction does not apply to single parents, those living with a partner, those with severe disabilities. Shared room rent restriction is for private rented accommodation only and does not apply to housing association or local authority dwellings.
A home not a safety net