Bed and breakfast accommodation must only be used for 16- and 17-year-olds as a last resort and for the shortest time possible, the government has reminded local authorities in new homelessness guidance.
The new code states that B&B accommodation is unlikely to be suitable for this age group, adding that they are often vulnerable and would benefit from a period in supported accommodation before moving on to their own tenancies.
It therefore calls on professionals to work together so that joint assessments are made of the care and support needs of young people who apply for housing assistance.
“Housing authorities will need to recognise that accommodation solutions for this client group are likely to be unsuccessful if the necessary support is not provided,” the guidance claims. “Close liaison with social services, the Supporting People team and agencies working with young people will be essential.”
Homelessness charity Centrepoint welcomed the tightening of specific duties towards 16- and 17-year-olds in the guidance and urged all local authorities to abide by it by making every effort to avoid the use of B&B accommodation and by avoiding bouncing young people between departments.
A report published by the charity last summer revealed that two-thirds of councils surveyed had no plans for how they would house 16- and 17-year-olds, and around a third had no plans to offer supported accommodation.
The new code will come into effect from 4 September 2006.