18-21 year olds could be at greater risk of homelessness as Government announces plans to end housing support payments for people under 21.
On Friday, 3 March 2017, the Government laid out the regulations that will restrict 18 to 21 year olds from claiming the housing element of Universal Credit. The cuts were initially raised by David Cameron’s Government, with the plan being to force young unemployed people to live with their parents or pay their own rent. Many charities hoped the changes would be scrapped by new Prime Minister Theresa May.
The changes will apply only to claims for Universal Credit made after April 1. Exemptions are made for certain vulnerable groups including people who are responsible for a child or those who are unable to stay with their parents or partner.
Reacting to the announcement, Jon Sparkes, Chief Executive of Crisis, said:
The Government has made positive steps towards preventing homelessness in recent months, including pledging its full support for the Homelessness Reduction Bill. But these new benefits rules risk undermining the potential of the bill to tackle homelessness for young people.
We’re committed to working with the Government to deliver on its homelessness prevention agenda, but today’s announcement runs entirely counter to those aims and could have disastrous consequences. For many young people, the support they receive through the benefits system to pay their rent is the safety net that stops them from becoming homeless. Even at this eleventh hour, we urge the Government not to continue with this destructive policy.
A spokesperson from the Department for Work and Pensions defended the changes, stating:
We want to make sure that 18 to 21-year-olds do not slip straight into a life on benefits, which is why we are helping young people get the training, skills and experience they need to move into a job and build a career
This Government is delivering on its commitment to ensure young people in the benefit system face the same choices as young people who work but may not be able to afford to leave home.