What is supported lodgings?
Supported lodgings give a young person a room in a home environment and the support and guidance of an adult living there.
This might include helping young people develop life skills such as:
- budgeting skills
- basic personal skills
- social skills.
It might involve helping them to use public transport on their own and manage their own health, or more challenging areas such as managing difficult behaviour.
Who are the young people?
We mainly need accommodation to suit young people ages 16 to 18, but we also support 16- to 24-year-olds if the young person is in higher education. Where possible, we encourage a young person to move on to independent housing from age 18.
- There are many reasons young people need supported lodgings. They may:
- have been living with family but something has made this no longer be possible, such as:
- behaviour problems
- drug or alcohol addiction
- family instability or relationship breakdown.
- have been formerly fostered or have learning or mental health needs
- need a home and support for just a few days
- be unaccompanied asylum seeking children
All the young people have social worker who looks at their background and needs to help find the right placement for the young person and the person providing the home.
We take care to match a young person with you. We'll take time to get to know you and the kind of lodgings you can provide, considering your needs and the needs of the young person.
You'll have the final say on who shares your home.
Can I offer supported lodgings?
We welcome applications from everyone, particularly from people who are part of minority groups.
You can be:
- one person, a couple, a family or in a partnership
- working or unemployed
Will I be responsible for the young person?
You won't be asked to take parental responsibility for the young person; they will be a lodger in your home.
We do ask you to provide guidance and support to help young people become independent, confident adults. In supported lodgings, young people can learn to take responsibility for their own lives and find out how their actions affect not only themselves, but others they live with.
Young people may also need help with gaining practical skills such as:
- using a bank account
- household budgeting
- buying and preparing food
- simple DIY
- using public transport
- organising leisure time.
In other words, all that's involved in everyday living.
Is my home suitable?
Your home can be large or small, old or new, rented or owned.
We do have expectations about what sort of home young people should have. For example, we expect a clean and safe bedroom for the young person to use.
It would be useful for you to check the following issues. This information has been taken from reliable sources but is provided as guidance only.
Council or registered housing association tenant
You can probably house a young person without any problem. If unsure, ask your housing provider.
Check the terms of your tenancy. If unsure, ask your housing provider or Citizen’s Advice Bureau.
If you have a mortgage
Check with your lender to see if you need their permission. Make it clear you will be living there, sharing the home with a young person rather than offering them a tenancy.
If you own your own home
If you are a freeholder, you can have who you like living with you. If you own leasehold, check the terms of the lease in case you need permission.
Can I offer supported lodgings if I am on benefits?
Discuss your involvement in this scheme with your benefits office if you are receiving:
- job seekers allowance
- income support
- housing benefit
- council tax benefit, or
- family credit.
Will I have to pay extra council tax for the young person?
People under 18 do not count as adults for council tax, so if you're claiming lone occupancy, it won't be affected. Once they reach age 18 you'll need to pay the full rate.
Will I have to pay income tax on the money I earn providing supported lodgings?
It depends on your total taxable income. Your payment should be added to your taxable income for the year. You have to pay income tax if your total taxable income is greater than your tax allowances. Tax allowances vary according to your circumstances. If you're unsure of what your tax allowance is, contact your local tax office.
Under Inland Revenue's Rent a Room Scheme, rent income of up to £4,250 per year (at time of writing) is tax free.
Will I have to increase my insurance?
You'll need to inform your insurance company in writing that you intend to provide supported lodgings to young people.
What qualities do you want in a supported lodgings carer?
We're looking for the competencies below. These are what we assess you on and form your portfolio that is considered by the panel in agree.
Caring for young people
- can provide care to young people, which promotes healthy, emotional, physical and sexual development as well as health and educational achievement
- can work closely with a young person’s family and others who are important to the young person
- can set appropriate boundaries and help young people resolve conflict
- knowledge of child and adolescent development
- can listen to and communicate with young people appropriate to their age and understanding.
Providing a safe and caring environment
- can ensure that young people are cared for in an environment where they are safe from harm and abuse, and where they can make changes and be supported to develop and take responsibility for their own safe care.
- can help young people develop strategies to keep themselves safe from harm and abuse, and to know how to seek help if their safety is threatened.
Working as part of a team
- can work with other professionals and contribute to the planning, such as Pathway Plan for the young person
- can communicate effectively
- can keep information about the young person confidential from those that do not need to know – we'll discuss this with you
- can promote equality, diversity and the rights of individuals and groups within society.
- can appreciate how personal experiences have affected the young person and their families, and the impact that offering supported lodgings is likely to have on them.
- can use people and links within the community to provide support
- can use training opportunities to improve skills
- can make a commitment to a young person and sustain a positive attitude and approach during stressful periods.
What is my role in providing a home?
- Provide a safe and consistent environment for the young person, giving them advice and adult support as and when needed.
- Liaise with the young person’s Social Worker and other agencies.
- Make day to day decisions affecting the young person’s lodgings.
- Contribute to the young person’s Pathway Plan and prepare for independence by helping the young person develop life and social skills.
- Provide a bedroom for the young person’s sole use, bathroom facilities and access to a kitchen for storing food and preparing meals.
- If agreed, collect the young person's contribution to the cost of their lodgings.
- Report to the Supported Lodgings Social Worker and young person’s worker if the young person is not living in the placement, is unwell, not attending education, training or work as detailed in the Pathway Plan, or not caring for themselves.
- Contribute to assessing the young person's needs for their Pathway Plan.
- Support the young person to use community resources.
- Take part in reviews and other meetings as needed.
- Tell the Supported Lodgings Social Worker of any significant change in the young person’s circumstances.
- Tell the Supported Lodgings Social Worker of any significant change in your own circumstances, such as a partner moving in or family relationship break down.
- Comply with relevant legislation and Essex County Council Children’s Social Care Policies and Guidelines - we'll provide you with these.
What is the assessment process like?
Follow our step-by-step guide, How to provide supported lodgings. What follows are a few more details you might need.
- We'll support you all the way through. A social worker will take you through each step of the process, and a specific worker is allocated to you when you're approved to provide supported lodgings.
- We'll visit you often to complete the assessment and keep you updated. You'll be able to get to know the social worker and build a good working relationship.
The assessing social worker’s role
- It's our responsibility to find out if you're suitable to provide supported lodgings.
- Concerns may arise at any time during assessment. If we have any, we'll discussed them with you, hoping to resolve them.
- It's the social worker's final decision to stop assessment, with their manager's approval.
- We're committed to making sure the assessment process and our decisions are fair, transparent and don't discriminate.
The initial home visit
A social worker will visit you. They'll give an introduction into supported lodgings, telling you about what's involved and the process. They'll check the basic details we have about you are correct.
Health and safety check on your home
We'll carry out a standard health and safety checks on your home and discuss safety in the home with you. We will want to see the room the young person will be living in at this time.
We'll ask you to sign a consent form so that we can ask for further information about your suitability to provide supported lodgings from other sources, such as the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) and references.
If you decide to carry on with the process, or would like to talk about things, we'll visit you again.
We'll complete an in-depth assessment over about 22 weeks.
The assessment will start with these checks:
- Medical checks to make sure you are medically capable of providing supported lodgings.
- An enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check, which gives us information about people who cannot work with children and or vulnerable adults.
Having criminal convictions will not necessarily stop you from becoming a supported lodgings provider. What matters is the type of offence and whether it is relevant to the safeguarding children placed in your home - violent crimes or offences against children, for example, would be concerns. All people over 18 living in your home and regular (for more than 20 nights a year) overnight visitors must have a DBS check too.
We'll need these:
- proof of your identity, for example:
- birth certificate
- deed poll certificate, if applicable
- marriage certificate
- divorce certificate
- driving licence with photograph
- if you don't have photo ID, you'll need to provide a photo signed by a professional person.
- proof of where you live, such as a utility bill or bank statement
- proof of right to live in the UK, such as Indefinite Leave to Remain
- National Insurance number.
We will also need to make some other enquiries, including:
- three references
- one current or previous employer
- two personal character references
Essex County Council checks
We'll check social care records to see if you are known.
Schools and colleges
We will check with schools and colleges regarding all children living in your household.
The information we gather about you will be held securely and remain confidential. It will only be looked at by people who need to look at it as part of the process.
We will ask a lot of questions about you, such as:
- your background
- your family
- your education and career
- the area you live in
- your experiences caring for young people
- your understanding of young people’s accommodation and support needs.
The information we put together during the assessment will include:
- contact details for your personal reference
- employer’s reference
- a personal profile that you write yourself
- your family tree
- views of any children in your home.
Training during the assessment
While you are being assessed, you need to attend training sessions to prepare for the role. This may be in group or one-to-one sessions.
In training you'll find out more about providing Supported Lodgings and we'll get a better idea about you and what you might be like as a supported lodgings carer.
We keep records of the training you attend.
All the information gathered during the assessment goes to the Fostering and Supported Lodgings Panel.
The panel is made up of independent members from agencies that work with young people. They decide whether to approve you to provide supported lodgings.
You will be invited to attend the panel - your assessing social worker will go with you. You will be notified of the panel date well in advance so that you can make arrangements to attend. The Chair will tell you their decision on the day, and we'll confirm this in writing. If your application is refused, you'll be given reasons.
How do I complain if I am unhappy about the decision?
If you do not agree with any part of the assessment or the decision of the panel or feel you were treated unfairly, you may complain. Contact:
Fostering Recruitment and Assessment Team
Essex County Council
Tel 0333 013 1318 or 0777 161 3893
If you feel that your complaint is not been dealt with and want to take it further, please contact:
Head of Permanency, Placements and Sufficiency
Essex County Council
If you still feel that the complaint has not been dealt with, contact the Local Government Ombudsman.
Placement agreement and review
Following approval as a carer, we'll allocate you a Social Worker who will visit you to talk about how and when a young person may come to live with you.
You'll meet the young person to see if you both think you can get on and live together.
If you and the young person feel the placement would work, then a placement agreement meeting will be set up. This is where you and the young person talk about their expectations of living with you and ask about any needs they have.
Once you've agreed these conditions, you, the young person, your Social Worker and the young person’s social worker sign a placement agreement. You and the young person will both have a copy.
Regular reviews of Looked After Children (LAC) will be undertaken.
Your Social Worker will guide you through supervision, support groups and Supported Lodging carers forums. Someone from the Leaving and After Care Team or another team from Social Care will support the young person.
This is arranged in this way so that you both have clear boundaries and can feel confident that there is someone providing support just for you. The Support Workers meet each other to discuss any issues arising from the placement.
We'll be in contact with you regularly once you have a placement.
Emergency duty service
If problems can't be resolved during the day, you can use the Emergency Duty Service (EDS) Social Workers, Monday to Thursday 5.30pm to 9am, Friday 4.30pm to Monday 9am. They also cover bank holidays, Christmas and New Year.
The EDS number is 0845 606 1212.
You will have regular supervision. This is more formalised. We need to do this to record the young person's progress and highlight any further training you feel you need. We can also talk about whether you feel that the needs of the young person have changed.
We'll review your household each year, focusing on the outcomes, training and support you need. Following your initial approval you'll need to go back to the panel for the first yearly household review.
We'll also do the health and safety checks again each year, and DBS and medical check every 3 years.
What happens when I want to go on holiday?
Of course, sometimes you’ll need a break.
We'll work with the young person’s social worker to organise a short-term placement while you’re on holiday.
If you want to take the young person on holiday, talk to the young person’s social worker about this.
You could also arrange for a friend or relative to come and stay with the young person while you’re away. They’ll need to be over 18 and have a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check.
For further information or any questions, please contact us.