16 and 17 year old young people at risk of homelessness
10. Young person’s consent to accommodation
When working with young people, it is important that their views, wishes and feelings are sought and taken into account and that this is an ongoing process through mediation, assessment and beyond.
In particular, at the start of the assessment process, they should be informed of the implications of being accommodated under section 20, including how they will be supported as a looked after child, how being accommodated will affect their benefit entitlement and what support they will be entitled to subsequently as a care leaver.
They should also be given accurate information about what assistance may be available to them from Housing under the Housing Act 1996 if they do not become looked after, and how any entitlement to assistance by Housing will be determined.
Children’s Services will also ensure that the young person receives accurate information about what assistance may be available to them if they do not become looked after, including from Housing Services under Part 7 of the 1996 Act. This will include any entitlement for assistance under Part 7. In particular the considerations a young person needs to be made aware of are:
a. duties on housing services to undertake an assessment, develop a personalised housing plan and to take steps to help the applicant retain or secure accommodation (sections 195 and section 189B of the 1996 Act)
b. the requirement on the applicant to cooperate and for applicants to take steps themselves as set out in a personalised plan (section 193B and section 193C of the 1996 Act)
c. the ‘accommodation offer’ under the relief duty – suitable accommodation which has a reasonable prospect of being available for occupation for at least 6 months (section 189B and section 195 of the 1996 Act)
d. the implications of turning down offers of accommodation that are suitable (section 193A of the Housing Act 1996)
e. the possible risk of being found or becoming homeless intentionally in the future (section 191 of the 1996 Act)
f. their right to request a review of decisions (section 202 of the 1996 Act)
The possible risk of becoming intentionally homeless in future and the implications of this for further assistance with accommodation should be made clear to the young person. This is to ensure that the young person is able to make an informed decision when consenting to accommodation. The young person will be advised of the limitations of the Council’s homelessness duties including likely need to stay in temporary accommodation, limited choice on future accommodation options etc.
Please refer to Appendix 3 for guidance.
The steps taken to ensure that the young person was properly informed must be clearly recorded on the young person’s case record. Social workers should also refer young people to independent advocates at Coram Voice where this may be appropriate and useful for the young person.
If the young person does not consent to being looked after under section 20, Buckinghamshire Children’s Services should consider whether they are competent to make this decision under the Mental Capacity Act 2005 and whether there are any safeguarding concerns that will require further action as a result of this decision.