Ready to move on: barriers to homeless young people accessing longer term accommodation

Across Centrepoint’s services, almost one in five young people were reported as being ready to move on but unable to do so, with a third of these having been ready to move on for longer than six months. This report seeks to identify the key barriers faced by young people looking to move on, in order to understand what needs to be done to help homeless young people ready to take the next step and move into stable longer term accommodation.

Executive Summary

Centrepoint’s accommodation-based support helps young people move-on from homelessness and reach a level of independence where they can move into longer-term accommodation with minimal or no support. Young people normally stay in Centrepoint’s services for up to two years before being helped to move on, either back to family members or to their own property.

However, it is becoming increasingly difficult for the young people Centrepoint supports to move out of supported accommodation (such as hostels and foyers) and begin the next chapter of their lives. In August 2018, almost one in five young people in Centrepoint’s supported services were reportedly ready to move on but were unable to.

A range of barriers, from a shortage of affordable homes to increasingly restrictive welfare policies mean that more and more young people are unable to find and secure suitable long term accommodation. This affects the ability of supported housing providers to take on new young people in need of support, and can have damaging impacts on the wellbeing, development and progress made toward independence of those young people struggling to move on.

This report presents the findings of research conducted by Centrepoint into the barriers faced by young people looking to move on from supported accommodation, through surveys of landlords in the private and social rented sectors, interviews with stakeholders and service staff, interviews with young people currently in supported accommodation, and interviews with young people that have recently moved on from Centrepoint accommodation.

Key findings and recommendations


  1. A critical lack of social housing means that young people are struggling to access a secure and affordable home. Both the overall number of new social lettings and the proportion of lettings to young households have seen significant decline in recent years.
  2. High rents and upfront costs make it difficult for those on low incomes to access private rented accommodation, with the costs of starting a tenancy running into thousands of pounds.
  3. A shortage of affordable shared accommodation in the private rented sector leave few properties young people can access, and the shared accommodation that does exist is often in demand from other groups able to pay higher rents.
  4. Local allocations policies can leave young people in supported housing stuck on waiting lists for long periods and providers’ lettings policies that restrict allocations on grounds of affordability can leave young people on low incomes and with limited benefit entitlements unable to access social housing.
  5. Private landlords’ mortgage and insurance conditions can prohibit people on benefits from accessing tenancies – however evidence shows that many landlords would still not let to them even if these conditions were not present.
  6. Private landlords’ reluctance to let to tenants receiving benefits, and particular ambivalence towards Universal Credit, means that homeless young people can struggle to find a landlord who is willing to let to them.
  7. A lack of security and quality control in the private rented sector can leave young people in housing insecurity, damaging their health and wellbeing and risking further homelessness.
  8. Reductions in local authority budgets have affected funding for floating and further support, meaning young people may struggle in independent housing, and landlords feeling left on their own to assist vulnerable tenants.
  9. Low wages, higher rates of unemployment and insecure employment leave many young people unable to afford housing in the private rented sector and increasingly in the social housing sector as well.
  10. Lower benefit rates for young people do not match up with real housing and living costs, meaning that the vast majority of the housing market is out of reach for those on low incomes.


  1. The government and local authorities should work together to significantly increase the supply of housing that is genuinely affordable for young people.
    A lack of genuinely affordable accommodation is a key barrier to move on. The government should increase the supply of genuinely affordable homes through continued direct investment in social rented housing, and local authorities should ensure that by working cross-departmentally they use their restored borrowing powers and refreshed homelessness strategies to meet local demand for age-specific move on accommodation.
  2. The government should guarantee long-term funding for private rented sector access schemes, using part of the revenue generated by the additional three percent stamp duty on buy to let properties and second homes.
    By allocating revenue generated from the 2015 stamp duty increase for second homes the government can expand and replicate successful access schemes, which provide vital support for homeless households looking to access accommodation, beyond the £20m funding already committed.
  3. The DWP should extend eligibility for the lower rate work allowance within Universal Credit to young people living in supported accommodation.
    This would allow young people in supported accommodation to keep more of what they earn; incentivising them to take on more hours and help them to save up for the costs of moving out.
  4. The DWP should bring Local Housing Allowance rates back in line with the 30th percentile of market rents by 2020, and extend to cover those 18 and over the current Shared Accommodation Rate exemption for those who have spent three months or more in supported accommodation.
    These would expand the proportion of the housing market available to young people leaving supported accommodation and prevent them from losing a tenancy.
  5. The DWP should automatically offer any tenant receiving Universal Credit the choice of having the housing element of their claim paid directly to their landlord.
    This would help greater numbers of young people avoid falling into rent arrears, and give landlords in both the private and social sectors greater confidence in letting to people receiving benefits.
  6. The DWP should award younger UC claimants the higher standard allowance for claimants aged 25 or over where they cannot live at home.
    Lower benefit rates leave young people on low incomes unable to meet housing costs. Increasing benefit rates for those with proven housing liabilities would help those looking to move on access and sustain a home.
  7. Social landlords should exercise flexibility in allocations policies to take into account young people's individual circumstances, and so as not to contradict local homelessness duties and strategies.
    The MHCLG should review social housing regulation to assess the impact of providers’ allocations policies on national and local efforts to tackle homelessness.
  8. Discrimination and unfair treatment against tenants receiving benefits by lettings agents, mortgage providers and insurance companies should be prevented.
    To ensure young people leaving supported accommodation have fair access to accommodation, discriminatory practices in the private sector should be prevented. The government should discourage such practices by lettings agents through effective guidance and regulation.
  9. The MHCLG should allocate a portion of the move-on fund announced as part of the Rough Sleeping Strategy specifically for young people leaving supported accommodation, to provide both housing and ongoing support.
    Specifically allocating part of this fund for young people will help to ensure a supply of move-on properties and provide the support needed to successfully remain in a tenancy.
  10. The MHCLG should legislate to improve security of tenure and standards in the private rented sector, through ending no-fault evictions and introducing three year tenancies as standard.
    Concerns around quality and security in the private rented sector can hinder successful move on and put young people at risk of repeat homelessness and insecurity. Recent changes to housing legislation in Scotland show how the tenure can be made to work better for vulnerable tenants.