As of April the 1st, new single claimants who are aged between 18-21yrs will no longer be entitled to the housing element of Universal Credit. The cut of Universal Credit to young people was first announced in the Conservative 2015 manifesto by David Cameron. All 18-21yr olds will be excluded unless they fall into either of the following categories:
- people who have children.
- people who, if to continue living with parents, would be at serious risk to their physical or mental health, or would otherwise cause significant harm.
Even though these exceptions are quite broad categories, there is a worry that young people will opt to sleep rough or on a friend’s sofa instead of seeking help for potential harm.
Centrepoint is a charity that aims to give homeless young people a future and aim to end youth homelessness. They have partnerships all over the UK and support 16-25yr olds into new homes and jobs. By excluding 18-20yr olds from the housing benefit, they are highly likely to struggle to get into the private rental market and the housing register waiting list is already years in most cases. The Head of Policy at Centrepoint, Balbir Chatrik, has indicated that these changes could put up to 9,000 young people at risk of being homeless.
“You can’t get your tenancy without first having access to your housing support. But you’ll need verification to say you will get housing support before any landlord will take you on so you are more likely to be out on the streets. It’s so ill judged; the exemptions are going to be a nightmare to prove.”
Charities have pointed out that the change will save almost no money and could drive up the homelessness stats considerably. Teresa May has since commented on the change saying “the aim of it as we have always stated, is to ensure that young people don’t go straight from school and on to a life of benefits”. The government claim they want to help young people get training, skills and the experience they need to move into a job and build a career. A spokesperson for the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) has suggested the cut to support is good for young people.“We know that personal circumstances will differ so we have worked closely with charities and the housing sector to develop a fair and robust set of exemptions to protect the most vulnerable young people”.
We would like to know what you think about the changes to this policy? Will it affect you or someone you know?
Have your say, leave us a comment here or on Facebook.