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Published 23 September 2019

Care leavers in full time education and living in their own council property will not be required to pay rent while they study as part of a new initiative.

West Dunbartonshire Council will pilot the scheme which will mean any young care leaver will be able to focus on studying without worrying about finances.

It is anticipated that the scheme, which is initially open to Council tenants only, will encourage more young care leavers to consider furthering their education.

Those eligible will be expected to use the period where their rent is being covered to build modest savings.

The scheme has been created in a partnership between the Council’s Housing team and West Dunbartonshire Health and Social Care Partnership.

This pilot will work alongside the Leaving Care Housing Protocol.

The Leaving Care Housing Protocol ensures young people who were previously looked-after have support to achieve independence and stability in the community.

The initiative provides tailored support to people between the ages of 16 and 26, providing them with the securest form of tenancy available to them.

They are then offered guidance along the way by a dedicated support worker.

Councillor Diane Docherty, Convener of Housing and Communities, said: “Our Leaving Care Housing Protocol has been highly successful in providing security and safety, as well as teaching the skills required to become an independent adult.

“As a corporate parent, we are responsible for giving our young people the best start in life that we can. By taking away concerns about managing to pay the rent while they study, it means these young people can concentrate on their education instead.”

Councillor Marie McNair, Vice Chair of West Dunbartonshire Health and Social Care Partnership, added: “The health and wellbeing of the most vulnerable members of our society is of paramount importance, and part of enjoying life as an adult is having the opportunity to be independent, and take action to further yourself.

“This initiative will help ensure that these young people don’t miss out on further education just because they have financial worries. Giving advice on how to make small savings throughout the course of this scheme will also provide them with essential life skills which will be beneficial to them for years to come.”

Sarah Smith is one care leaver who will benefit from the new scheme.

She said: “I’m so grateful for this initiative as not having to worry about my rent or working to afford it will allow me to concentrate on my HND course at college over the next year. This is an important year for me as I hope to go on to university when I’m finished. Not having to pay rent will also help me save for my future.”