Housing Benefit Removal: Young People Face Uncertain Futures.
Government Set to Swell Young Rough Sleeper Numbers.
YMCA report predicts more homeless young with housing benefit cuts.
‘Uncertain Futures’ is a new report that seeks to challenge some of the assumptions underpinning the argument that many young people are choosing a life on benefits and draw out the types of young people who may be adversely affected by these reforms when they are introduced in April 2017.
By removing automatic entitlement to Housing Benefit for 18 to 21-year-olds, the Government could be in danger of inadvertently taking away support from the young people who need it the most, and in doing so, exposing many more vulnerable people to the risk of becoming homeless and therefore damaging their prospects of finding work in the future.
YMCA agrees that action is needed to address youth unemployment but, without protections, thousands of vulnerable, young people will face uncertain futures, not knowing if they will have anywhere they can call home and leaving them less able to find work.
In changing entitlement to Housing Benefit for 18 to 21-year-olds, YMCA believes that detailed measures should be put in place to ensure the most vulnerable young people in the country continue to receive protection and support during their time of need.
As such, as a minimum, protection should be put in place for young people who are:
- Pregnant or have dependent children
- Care leavers or former children in need
- Homeless or have a history of homelessness
- Estranged from their parents.
Amongst other points Uncertain Futures notes:
Many of the young people claiming are doing so because they have no other option 2,100 18 to 21 year olds claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance and Housing Benefit have at least one dependent child to look after.
7,200 young care leavers between 19 and 21 years old in England are currently out of work and would potentially be eligible to claim Jobseeker’s Allowance and Housing Benefit.
Between 5,800 and 6,400 18 to 21 year olds were identified as homeless and in priority need last year.
Nearly 1,400 18 to 21 year olds currently living in YMCA supported accommodation claim Jobseeker’s Allowance and Housing Benefit.
For the young people claiming benefits, it is far from an attractive lifestyle choice.
Most young people are entitled to £57.90 a week in Jobseeker’s Allowance.
44% of 18 to 21 year olds claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance and Housing Benefit get less than £75 a week in help towards their housing costs.
” this report demonstrates, to believe that removing entitlement to Housing Benefit will drive all young people to ‘earn or learn’ is to misunderstand many of those that rely upon this part of the social security system.
It is also to underestimate how important having a stable and safe home is in enabling these vulnerable young people to find training and employment.
By removing automatic entitlement to Housing Benefit for 18 to 21 year olds the Government could be in danger of inadvertently taking away support from the young people who need it most, and in doing so, exposing many more vulnerable young people to the risk of becoming homeless and therefore damaging their prospects of finding work in the future.
Action is needed to address youth unemployment, but without protections thousands of vulnerable young people will face uncertain futures, not knowing if they will have anywhere they can call home and leaving them less able to find work.“
The Guardian writes,
A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions said: “This report is deliberately misleading since we have been very clear that vulnerable young people including care-leavers and people with children will be exempt from this policy.
“We want to make sure young people get the support they need to move into work and do not slip straight into a life on benefits.”
The government is likely to exempt care-leavers, those with dependent children, disabled youngsters who are unable to work, and young people who have been working for six months before claiming.
YMCA says that before exemptions 19,000 young people currently claim job seeker’s allowance (JSA) and housing benefit, equivalent to less than 1% of all housing benefit claimants.
It rejects the idea that this group is pursuing a “lifestyle choice”, pointing out that nearly three-quarters of this cohort claim for less than six months, suggesting it is a short-term safety net. JSA is £57.90 a week, while average housing benefit payments are less than £75.
The charity points out out that the numbers of 18- to 21-year-olds claiming both entitlements has halved in the last two years and is falling faster than any other age group. Over two-thirds of 18-21-year-olds live at home with parents, a proportion that has risen over the past decade.