Young adult carers' housing needs still overlooked

By Dan Parton

| 16 September 2019

The housing needs of young adult carers are still being overlooked, according to a review by education and training think-tank the Learning & Work Institute.

Move On Up is a shared housing initiative by Quaker Social Action and Commonweal Housing, operating in East London

The institute warns that "unsustainable caring arrangements and breakdowns in family relationships" combined with a general shortage of housing options means some young adult carers are living in situations "which have a serious impact on their physical, emotional and mental health and wellbeing". 

Despite this, "young adult carers do not appear to be recognised as a group requiring specific housing-related support," the policy review concludes. There is also no specific data on the extent of homelessness among the group.

The publication of the Carers Action Plan in June 2018 by the Department of Health and Social Care marked the first time that the needs of carers aged 16-24 had been addressed in a national strategy.

It had several areas of focus, including on transitions between services, improving educational outcomes and supporting young adult carers to claim carers allowance while studying. At the time, these commitments were widely welcomed by the sector, but it was noted that there was no specific commitment to housing.

Since 2014, local authorities have a duty to undertake a transition assessment with young adult carers before they turn 18 and when it will be of "significant benefit" for them to do so. This reviews the support that a young person with caring responsibilities needs to make an effective transition into adulthood. However, evidence shows that in many parts of the country, these assessments are not being carried out.

In a blog, Nicola Aylward, head of learning for young people at the institute, said: "Compared to a decade ago, young adult carers are now much more firmly in the public consciousness and on the radar of policymakers and service providers.

"However, one key area of public policy and service provision where young adult carers' needs are still almost entirely overlooked is housing."

Aylward cited an example of where a young adult carer and her brother were made homeless after their mother - who they cared for - died, as the family's tenancy agreement was in their mother's name and so were given notice to leave.

To address this distinct housing need, the institute is currently evaluating Move On Up, a shared housing initiative by Quaker Social Action and Commonweal Housing, operating in East London.

Run across four properties, Move On Up provides shared housing for young adult carers as well as up to 24 months' individual support depending on their wellbeing needs.

Move On Up recognises that there are cases where a young person may want to return to the family home, and, importantly, gives them the choice as to whether they do so or not.

Aylward said the institute will publish its learning on how best to meet the housing needs of young carers through its full evaluation of the Move On Up project in 2020.

blog comments powered by Disqus