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Social landlord slams potential plan to deny under-25s housing benefit

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Social landlord slams potential plan to deny under-25s housing benefit

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Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Central Government

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Social landlord Affinity Sutton has slammed potential government plans to deny those under the age of 25 access to housing benefit.

Chancellor George Osborne announced this week that the coalition will set an overall cap on the welfare budget as it aims to deliver further spending cuts of £25 billion.

With many of the savings expected to come from cuts to welfare, there is a possibility that the government will move to ban under-25s from access to housing benefit.

However, Vicky Bonner, Affinity Sutton's director of housing, has given five reasons why the 57,000-home provider believes that such a policy should be prevented:

  • Removing the vital safety net of housing benefit from young people is not a fair or rational way to reduce the welfare bill.
  • Many of its young residents do not have the option of moving back to the family home and so removing housing benefit would be detrimental to families and children and result in increased rent arrears, hardship and even homelessness.
  • Receiving housing benefit offers a vital safety net to Affinity's young tenants allowing them to keep a roof over their head while they are in low paid work or looking for work.
  • Increasing the supply of affordable housing in areas where young people work would help address the issue of high housing benefit costs.
  • Requiring employers to pay a truly living wage would reduce dependency on housing benefit.

Ms Bonner explained that though Affinity Sutton understands the pressure to reduce the benefits bill, it does not believe that removing a "vital safety net" from people purely determined by their age is the best way to do it.

She has urged the government to look at other ways to lower benefits spend such as reducing the cost of housing by increasing supply of affordable homes and encouraging employers to pay a living wage so that households in work are less reliant on housing benefit.

Ms Bonner warned that "discriminating against housing benefit claimants on the basis of their age will deepen poverty, increase homelessness and impact on the well being of children and families. Age alone cannot be relied upon to determine whether someone could return to the family home and this proposal overlooks the significance of personal circumstances."

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