The Government has announced its decision to remove some 18 to 21 year olds’ entitlement to housing benefit. This cut will remove a vital safety net for young people who cannot live in their family home. Without this vital lifeline, 9000 young people could be at risk of homelessness.
The Government has failed to include key exemptions put forward by Centrepoint which could have protected young people who have already been accepted as homeless by the state from becoming homeless again.
Not only are these cuts putting young people at risk – we don’t think the savings add up. If the cut forces more young people onto the streets – which we think is likely – then it could actually end up costing the government more money than it saves, due to the associated costs of housing homeless people.
Researchers calculated that just 140 young people would have to be made homeless by the impact of the cut, for the costs to outweigh savings – and that’s saying nothing of the huge personal impact on those who are forced into homelessness.
The Government has not yet made clear how key criteria, such as whether it is inappropriate for a young person to remain in the family home, will be assessed.
We know that there is no simple or reliable way to assess whether young people can or cannot return to the family home. Without clear and comprehensive guidance, the Government runs the risk of creating a discretionary system, in which vulnerable young people slip through the safety net. We are urging the Government to rethink its decision.
Paul Noblet, Head of Public Affairs for Centrepoint, said:
‘Recent government efforts to tackle homelessness risk being undermined by this ill-judged policy which could force thousands of young people on to the streets.
‘With no guarantee that exemptions to the policy for some vulnerable young people will actually prevent them slipping through the safety net, the government’s plans could both cost the tax payer more money than it saves and force more young people into homelessness.
‘Rather than cutting this vital lifeline for many young people the government should instead focus on the root causes of the benefits bill like rising rents and the shortage of truly affordable housing.’