1. Paul Startup (Head of Care Leavers 18+ Service) introduced the report and summarised the outcomes of the pilot of the rent guarantor scheme, which had run successfully for six months. There had been no defaulters and no rent arrears and hence no cost to the County Council. All those who had been helped by the pilot scheme were happily accommodated and staying put, except one who had left a university place for reasons unrelated to any accommodation issues. To help develop and promote the scheme, the service was seeking a Member Champion and to change the strategy to seek young people earlier who could benefit from the scheme, allowing them time to establish themselves and build a reputation and a good relationship with a landlord. An example of this was a shared housing scheme in Canterbury which trained young people in preparation for independent living.
2. The success of the pilot scheme was welcomed and Ms Sarah Hamilton volunteered to be the Member Champion.
3. Concern was expressed that the scheme would target and benefit young people who presented no risk in terms of defaulting on rent payments at the expense of those who were less stable but who still needed accommodation. Mr Startup assured the Panel that the assessment process in the scheme sought to avoid causing any stress to young people who were not ready to take on a tenancy by encouraging them to do so prematurely. It was important also to consider that anyone who was not sufficiently mature to commit to and manage a tenancy successfully would present a higher risk to the County Council as a potential defaulter. He emphasised, however, that the County Council was not excluding young people on this basis but would provide training to prepare and support more young people towards being able to take on tenancies. He assured the Panel that anyone unable to secure a tenancy using the scheme was not at risk of becoming homeless. The County Council’s range of accommodation options offered care leavers options to suit different abilities and preferences and sought to build their confidence to take on and manage their own accommodation, of whatever type. Ms Hammond added that, although the County Council had a duty to ensure that its care leavers were appropriately accommodated, it did not have a duty to provide that accommodation. She advised the Panel that the 26 young people who were part of the pilot scheme would not have been able to manage a tenancy otherwise as they had access to no other form of guarantee.
4. It was suggested that a further update on the development of the rent guarantor scheme be made to the Panel in six months’ time.
5. It was RESOLVED that:-
a) the review of the rent guarantor pilot scheme, and the information set out in the report about other types of accommodation, be noted;
b) the rent guarantor scheme continue to be developed, with Ms Sarah Hamilton acting as a Member Champion of the scheme; and
c) a further update report on the development of the scheme be made to the Panel in six months’ time.