Knock, knock knocking on the Prime Minister’s Door
Centrepoint’s campaign to give homeless young people the Chance to Move On was debated in the House of Commons this week, following a visit to 10 Downing Street, where Centrepoint residents presented a petition of over 20,000 signatures. The petition calls on the government to ensure that homeless young people can cover the real cost of renting.
Aidan, a petitioner said: “I’ve been living at Centrepoint for over four years now. I’m ready to move out and find my own place, but I feel like if I do, my situation won’t be stable and that’s what I need in my life, more stability.” Aidan and the Centrepoint team were joined by lead guitarist of The Vamps, James McVey, who came to show his support.
From left: Centrepoint CEO Seyi Obakin, James McVey from The Vamps, Aidan, Ni’mah and Stacy.
Order! Order! End youth homelessness now
During the House of Commons debate the government was challenged to “find it in their hearts and budgets to help homeless young people”. The problem is that under 25s continue to be treated differently when faced with homelessness; they receive a much lower rate of Local Housing Allowance, effectively denying them the chance to find a safe, stable place to live.
Caroline Lucas MP, the debate sponsor, outlined the problem:
“If I am over the age of 25 and have spent three months in a homeless hostel, I will be given a higher Local Housing Allowance to help me find a place to live, but if I am under 25 and in exactly the same situation, I still receive the lowest rate...
...Why has the Government turned their back on vulnerable young people who so clearly need support to find a home? Young people experiencing homelessness cannot rely on the bank of mum and dad, they cannot move back into the family home to save up, yet they receive the lowest minimum wage and the lowest benefit rate.”
Read the debate in full.
Carry on Caring
The debate also raised awareness of young people who have been in care, as they are particularly vulnerable to homelessness. While the government accepts its moral obligation to support care leavers, in reality Local Housing Allowance plummets on a care leaver’s 22nd birthday, putting them at risk of eviction and homelessness.
Clearly, the current system is failing to provide vulnerable young people with the support they need. It is no coincidence that 40 per cent of Centrepoint residents are care leavers. That’s why together with other charities we are calling on the government to act now, ending the cycle of homelessness for young people who have already faced such trauma.
Responding on behalf of the government, Welfare Minister Will Quince was sympathetic and encouraged campaigners to keep “pushing against a half-open door”. With less than five weeks to go until the government’s spending plans are announced, all eyes are now on the Treasury. Centrepoint has sent a costed proposal for consideration and will continue to make homeless young people’s voices heard in politics.