16 and 17 year old young people at risk of homelessness
4. Legal framework
- Young people aged 16 and 17 who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless are likely to be vulnerable and may need services and intervention to safeguard and promote their welfare.
- Buckinghamshire Children’s Services and Homeless Services have a joint duty to meet the needs of these vulnerable young people:
- Buckinghamshire Children’s Services has a duty to provide accommodation to young people aged 16 or 17 who are assessed as being in need and meet the criteria for accommodation under section 20 of the Children Act 1989 (see section 5.1).
- Housing - Under part VII of the Housing Act and the Homelessness (Priority Need for Accommodation) (England) Order 2002, 16- and 17-year-olds who are not in care and who are not owed a section 20 duty by children’s services have priority need for accommodation.
- Under the statutory guidance “Provision of accommodation for 16- and 17-year-old young people who may be homeless or require accommodation” (DLUHG/DoE)), both services have joint responsibility towards young people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. However, duties under the Children Act must take precedence and young people must be assessed by Buckinghamshire Children’s Services before decisions are taken on what duties are owed to the young person in terms of providing support and accommodation.
- Local authorities have a duty to support families to stay together and prevent young people from becoming homeless by working with families to resolve issues or find young people an alternative home within their family and friends’ network. This should be the initial response from Buckinghamshire Children’s Services and Housing and rehabilitation work should begin immediately and carry on during the assessment process.
- If a young person presents as homeless to Children’s Social Care with nowhere safe to stay that night and is consequently at risk of significant harm, they should be provided with emergency accommodation whilst assessment of their needs and further need for accommodation is carried out.
Please refer to Appendix 1 for links to legislation and statutory guidance.