Across Centrepoint’s services, almost one in five young people are struggling to move on from supported accommodation and to find a place to call home. This not only prevents them from starting the next chapter in their lives, it denies other young people much-needed spaces in supported accommodation.
What are the barriers young people face when they're ready to move on?
A severe lack of affordable housing options, landlords’ attitudes towards young people, low wages, insecure employment and reduced benefit entitlements all combine to prevent young people from leaving homelessness behind for good.
Under-25s get a bad deal in the job market. They're often expected to survive on lower minimum wages and many can only find work on zero-hour contracts. If they're unable to find work, they're eligible for less Universal Credit simply because of their age. Yet if they do find work and decide to take on additional hours to save towards a rental deposit, the rate at which they lose their Universal Credit can mean that being in work leaves them less well off.
If a young person can’t save for a deposit they are effectively locked out of the private rented sector which in turn causes further problems in the already overstretched social rented sector.
What effect could a change in legislation have?
We're calling on the Government to align rates of Universal Credit more closely with the cost of renting a property in the private sector. We also want young people who have experienced homelessness to be able to access a higher rate of housing benefit and Universal Credit allowance. This way when they do find work, they can keep more of their benefits for longer – helping them transition into independent living.
Discrimination and unfair treatment in both the private and social rented sector must end now. That means an end to letting agents introducing blanket bans on housing benefit claimants and greater flexibility in social housing allocations, so that young homeless people can access affordable housing.
If young people have no housing options when they are ready to move on from supported accommodation, they risk falling into a cycle of repeat homelessness. To address this problem in the long term, the government and local authorities must work together to significantly increase the supply of housing that is genuinely affordable.
Billy Harding, Policy and Research Officer, explains the report's findings in this video: