Housing Cost Entitlement Withdrawn from 18-21 Year Olds

Friday 5th May 2017

Housing cost entitlement withdrawn from 18-21 year olds

The Government confirmed the removal of Housing Benefit for 18-21 year olds from 1st April after ministers decided in early March to go ahead with this controversial plan.

Amanda Dubarry, Chief Executive, said, "We are deeply disappointed that the government have pushed these regulations through. We believe that this policy will make minimal financial savings, risks making more young people homeless, and conflicts with the intention of the new Homeless Reduction Bill. This is another disproportionate hit on the incomes and opportunities for young people and will inevitably hit young people who are already disadvantaged and vulnerable the hardest."

The policy was first unveiled by David Cameron and George Osborne in 2015 and was a key plank of the Tory manifesto, but its implementation has been delayed because of controversy about its impact.

Research by Heriot-Watt University and campaign group End Youth Homelessness, has shown that the cuts would save the public purse just £3m - not the £120m announced by David Cameron - and could force thousands of young people back on to the streets.

Many housing charities have campaigned on this issue and, following the arrival of Theresa May in No.10, had hoped that she and Work and Pensions Secretary Damian Green would scrap the plans amid fears they could lock thousands of young people out of rented accommodation and force them onto the streets. Step by Step supported this work through our involvement with Homeless Link, believing that housing benefit provides an essential safety net for young people facing family and housing instability.

Amanda added, "Although many of the young people living in our supported accommodation should be exempt from the cut, they may not be able to access housing costs once they leave our services without proving that they meet an exemption, which could make moving on impossible for those without a supportive family or a good income. Step by Step will do what we can to support the young people we work with who are affected, and hope that our plans to develop more move-on housing over the next five years will serve to alleviate some of the impact of these cuts."

An update and detail on the exemptions and impacts of the housing cost element of Universal Credit on young people can be found on the Homeless Link blog here.

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