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Large increase in homelessness among young people leaving care in last four years

“Shocking” new figures show a 33% increase in homelessness among young people leaving care.

26/10/23

Large increase in homelessness among young people leaving care in last four years

New figures show a steep rise numbers of young people leaving care aged 18-20 who experience homelessness or the threat of homelessness.

Published in the government’s annual Statutory Homelessness in England report, research shows that during the financial year 2022/23 the number of care leavers aged 18 – 20 facing homelessness has increased by at least a third (33%) since 2018.

This means the number of care leavers aged 18 – 20 facing homelessness has risen more than three times as fast as the overall number of households facing homelessness, which rose by only 10.7% over the same period.

This means that most care leavers (61.2%) aged 18 – 20 were already homeless by the time they received support from their local authority.

Worryingly, more than one in ten (10.7%) care leavers aged 18 – 20 in England presented as homeless or threatened with homelessness, rising from from 8.9% in 2018/19.

Almost one in five (19%) care leavers aged 18 – 20 presenting as homeless or threatened with homelessness were in the North West of England, 15% were in the South West, and 13% were in the South East.

The figures were released ahead of National Care Leavers’ Week which runs from Wednesday 25 October to Wednesday 1 November, which aims to celebrate and raise awareness of the challenges they face.

Become, the national charity for children in care and care leavers, says that this is ‘just the tip of the iceberg’ and beyond these statistics are many more who are ‘hidden homeless’.

‘Hidden homelessness’ can take the form of sofa surfing or rough sleeping, by young people who may be unaware of their rights and entitlements and haven’t been in touch with their local authority for support.

Katharine Sacks-Jones, CEO of Become, said the data is “depressing but sadly not surprising.”

“Each year, thousands of 18-year-olds face a care cliff where important support and relationships disappear and they are expected to leave care and become independent overnight, often well before they feel ready.

“Being pushed into adulthood without the right support in place puts young people at risk. Trying to access safe and suitable housing, manage bills and the cost-of-living crisis, whilst also continuing their education or starting work without a safety net to fall back on is a huge struggle.

“It’s a scandal that our care system is leaving young people at risk of homelessness, but this can be fixed. We want to see an end to the care cliff so that all young people have a positive start to adulthood and make the move into independence when the time is right for them.”

Find out more about Become’s campaign to #EndTheCareCliff: https://becomecharity.org.uk/

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