News and Blogs News Staf calls for changes to housing support for care leavers heeded by UK Government Following the publication of the UK budget for 2020-21, Staf CEO Jo Derrick has welcomed changes to housing support for care leavers living in the private rented sector. The Chancellor has announced that care leavers aged up to 25 will be exempt from the Shared Accommodation Rate for Universal Credit, as called for by Staf in December, ahead of the General Election. While the extension of the exemption from the Shared Accommodation Rate is welcome, the changes only exempt care leavers up to the age of 25, in line with support for care leavers in England. Care leavers in Scotland can receive aftercare support up to the age of 26. The Shared Accommodation Rate is, in effect, a cap on the amount people aged up to 35 living in the private rented sector can receive in Housing Benefit, allowing them to receive only enough estimated to meet the cost of rent for a room in a shared house in their local area. Currently, care leavers are exempt up to the age of 22, allowing them to receive enough to meet the costs of a one-bed tenancy. Responding to the change, Staf CEO Jo Derrick said: “We are pleased to see that the UK Government has heeded Staf’s call for the Shared Accommodation Rate exemption to apply to all care leavers. “Alongside the Scottish Government’s changes to Discretionary Housing Support announced in 2019, this will help care leavers secure and maintain their housing tenancy. “We are disappointed, however, that the UK Government has still not taken into account the Scottish definition of care leaver, including young people up to 26. “We must also never forget that the very fact that we must provide benefits to care leavers is an admission of our failure as a society to live up to our collective parental duty. As such, Staf will continue to call for further efforts to support care experienced young people into employment and education – and to pay them at least a real Living Wage.” Notes: The UK budget states: “The government is introducing additional exemptions from the Shared Accommodation Rate (SAR) for Universal Credit and Housing Benefit claimants to protect those at risk of homelessness. This will enable rough sleepers aged 16-24, care leavers up to the age of 25, and victims of domestic abuse and human trafficking to live on their own, supporting their recovery from homelessness.” In December 2019, Staf’s General Election briefing stated: “We believe all care leavers should be exempt from the Shared Accommodation Rate up to 26, bringing this into line with the upper age limit for aftercare support in Scotland and ensuring better support to secure and maintain a tenancy.” In September 2019 the Scottish Government announced that they would increase access to discretionary housing payment for care leavers.