Charity warns against under-25s housing benefit cut
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Central Government
Scotland sees 19 percent fall in homelessness applications
Government plans to cut housing benefit for people aged under 25 could damage the future prospects of those who are most in need of help, the homelessness charity umbrella body Homeless Link has warned.
Official figures show that between October 2012 and September 2013, 15,680 households headed by young people were accepted as statutory homeless in England. However, research by the charity Centrepoint in 2011, using wider data sets, estimated that at least 80,000 young people experience homelessness in the UK every year.
And Homeless Link's report 'Young and Homeless 2013', based on a survey of 169 frontline agencies, found that more than half of young people find themselves homeless because of relationship breakdown.
The report revealed that of those approaching local authorities for help:
• 44% said their parents were no longer willing to accommodate them.
• 14% said a friend or relative was no longer willing to accommodate them.
• 13% were victims of abuse or violence.
For these individuals, Homeless Link claims, remaining at home is not an option and housing benefit provides a vital safety net ensuring a successful move to independence.
Homeless Link says there is evidence that shows that without a stable home and the right support, those who experience homelessness in their youth are more likely to experience complex and damaging problems in later life.
However, the Young and Homeless report indicates that in many areas support services are under pressure and finding suitable accommodation for young people is becoming more problematic. Just under 70% of homelessness agencies indicated there was not enough youth-specific emergency accommodation available in their area and 43% of local authorities reported placing young people in unsuitable B&B accommodation.
Rick Henderson, chief executive of Homeless Link, said: “It is vital that young people, at the most important time of their lives, are given the support they need to realise their potential and enjoy a bright future. For many, staying at home is simply not an option and these people need a helping hand, not an additional hurdle. That is why we are questioning the proposal to remove Housing Benefit for under-25s.
“A severe shortage of affordable housing and the highest levels of youth unemployment in nearly 20 years mean many young people face significant barriers to achieving their goals. We are calling on the Government to invest in their futures by ensuring the support is in place to make sure they have somewhere safe to call home.
“It is encouraging to see that the help available to young homeless people has improved in many areas. However, action is needed to ensure this good work can continue.”