Young person working in a kitchen

UNTAPPED RESOURCE: Homeless young people’s employment experiences and aspirations

Young people experiencing homelessness face unique barriers to employment including issues with the benefits system and a lack of local jobs. These barriers can mean that homeless young people are often unable to access employment, resulting in diminished self-confidence and limited resilience.


This summary explores the employment aspirations of homeless young people, as well as the barriers they regularly face and the support that can help them to realise their goals. 

The report examines data from a national poll of 1,000 young people living in the UK; a survey of 246 homeless young people; and interviews with young people, charity sector stakeholders, department for work and pensions staff and employers.

This report was produced with generous funding from Together. Centrepoint would like to express gratitude to Together and all the young people and stakeholders who participated in this research project, as well as Opinium who carried out a national poll to determine employment experiences and aspirations among the general population of 16 to 25 year olds in the UK. Pseudonyms are used throughout the report to protect the privacy of the research participants. 


  • 43% of homeless young people had to turn down a job or more hours because of the effect it would have on their benefits.
  • Benefit rules prevent young people from working more hours and becoming financially independent. 
  • Two thirds of homeless young people reported that they had struggled or currently struggle with their mental health. 
  • National poll and survey respondents said that they expect age, disability, ethnicity and gender to negatively impact on their ability to achieve employment goals and get the kind of job they want.

"We need to look at benefits and the trap that it places on young people and especially young people in supported accommodation." Employment support worker, London.


Employment aspirations 
Bar chart showing employment aspirations

Homeless young people were less likely to be confident that they will achieve their employment aspirations than their peers in the general population.

Confidence to achieve goals
Bar chart showing national poll vs homeless young people on confidence to achieve goals

The national poll found that three quarters (75 per cent) of respondents identified the availability of local jobs as a barrier to them achieving their  employment aspirations.

Young people on low wages struggled to cope with the rising cost of living:

"So if my wages don't go up, I'm not going to be able to carry on like this. I'm just struggling every month to live... Because I'm not earning enough for me to be able to be sustainable." Connor, Yorkshire and the Humber.


The national poll found that young people value practical support such as flexible hours and equipment being provided.

Young people who were interviewed expressed mixed experiences of Jobcentre support. Several homeless young people highlighted that they had experienced difficulties when explaining their limited work capacity to Jobcentre staff.

Stakeholders and employers emphasised the importance of recognising the potential in a young person rather than their experience.

"I also got very fortunate with the job coach that I had at the time, being someone who is ready to understand and to have an open mind about the sort of situation as it was. Because not every Jobcentre worker is going to be the same. There is a little element of luck." Sam, London.


  • Make work pay for young people living in supported accommodation by reducing the Housing Benefit taper rate to bring it in line with Universal Credit; and increasing the applicable amount in Housing Benefit.
  • Make apprenticeships pay by extending the National Minimum or Living Wage to apprentices of all ages after their first year to reflect increased skills and experience gained.
  • Introduce innovative employment schemes and apprenticeships specifically designed to suit the needs of young people living in supported accommodation.

Together’s vision is to be the UK’s most valued lender. We’ve been opening the door to people’s property ambitions since 1974 and believe that everyone deserves a place that they can call home. We are proud to work with Centrepoint and support their mission. In addition to our ongoing funding to help build modular homes for homeless young people in Manchester, Together is delighted to have funded a national poll, which allowed the Centrepoint team to survey over 1,000 young people as part of this research project. Through this support, Together aims to play its part in helping those most underserved by the housing and employment market with opportunities to build an independent future.