A new report has found that only one in twelve teenagers facing homelessness is receiving the help they need from their local authority.
The Children’s Society has found that 12,000 young people aged between sixteen and seventeen turn to councils for housing support each year however many are failed due to a response that falls short of the government’s guidance on the issues, reports 24dash.
The report, ‘Getting the house in order: Homelessness and 16- and 17-year-olds’, found:
• Half of these vulnerable young people are never properly assessed in the first place
• Over 8,000 are sent home to their parents without any support being put in place to make sure they are not abused or neglected in their family homes
• Of the 2,800 who receive accommodation, 1,800 are accommodated without the proper financial and personal support that they are entitled to under law
The report also found that the reasons behind teenagers’ homelessness are complex:
• 59% became homeless because their relationship with parent or carer had broken down
• 12% had to move out because of relationships with friends, girlfriends or boyfriends
• 12% because of violence in the home
• 10% due to substance abuse
• 10% because their family was financial difficulty
Richard Crellin, from the Children’s Society policy team, explained: “We know from our frontline work with 16- and 17-year-olds facing homelessness just how vulnerable they are. It is extremely concerning to see so many of them turned away without the support they need. For so many, placed in accommodation without support, or sent home to families where they may experience neglect and abuse they run the very serious risk of being sexually exploited or becoming involved in drugs or other criminal activity. What’s worse is that so many of these children have already been failed by local services with at least half having been previously known to children’s services. These teenagers have very complex lives which often further exacerbate their homelessness. With a history of involvement in services and specific sets vulnerabilities it is not enough to just send them home. Even if home is a safe place most of these teenagers will need extra support and resources to overcome a history of neglect.”
Commenting on the report, Jon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis, said: “These are truly appalling figures. Homelessness is a horrifying experience for anyone, but it is especially damaging for young people, who are particularly vulnerable to violence, substance abuse and problems with mental and physical health. We know from our own research that half of all first-time homeless people are under-21, with the majority going through the experience again and again because they don’t get the help they need. This is a tragic waste of young lives. We cannot continue to fail our young people in this way. Councils must carry out proper assessments of homeless people coming to them for help and fulfil their legal duty to house under 18s in decent, appropriate accommodation. At the same time, we need party leaders to review the support given to all single homeless people under the law.”
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