Cut to young people's housing benefit could leave tens of thousands homeless

12 November 2012

Government plans to abolish housing benefit for under-25s could leave tens of thousands of young people homeless, warns Crisis.

Currently 385,000 people under 25 claim housing benefit across the UK. Many of these people work, or are looking for work, others are sick or disabled. More than half are parents bringing up children.

The prime minister said1 that instead of claiming housing benefit, under-25s should move back in with their parents but Crisis, the national charity for single homeless people, has warned that for many this would be impossible. Last year ten thousand people were accepted as homeless because their parents would not or could not house them and more than a third of homeless people were aged 16-24.

In response to the threat, Crisis has today [12 Nov] launched No going home, a campaign to protect housing benefit for under-25s.

The charity has warned that many young people have fled violence or abuse in the family home, others have children of their own or are working where they live. In many cases parents won’t have the space to house them or will have moved away. For many young people, housing benefit is all that stands between them and homelessness.

Leslie Morphy, chief executive of Crisis, said: “It would be unworkable and irresponsible to withdraw housing benefit from under-25s at a time of high rents and youth unemployment.

“There is no way that those fleeing abusive home lives or those whose parents can’t house them could be protected if this plan goes ahead. We fear that if housing support is abolished for people under 25 then tens of thousands of young people will be made homeless. These are people who just need a little help as they start out on their adult lives, not an arbitrary and ill thought-through cut.”

For those with young children the prospect of homelessness or being forced to live in overcrowded conditions with their parents will be particularly damaging. Additionally, 28,000 who would be affected are sick or disabled.

66,000 of young people claiming housing benefit are in work, many others are looking for it. If their housing benefit were cut they may be forced to move away from their job, and potentially be consigned to long-term unemployment.

Crisis believes that the knock on costs of problems such as homelessness that would result from any cut to under-25s’ ability to claim housing benefit would greatly reduce any potential savings. The plan also contradicts other government policies, including the “bedroom tax”, which aims to encourage people in social housing to move to a smaller property when their children move out.

Key statistics2

  • 385,000 people age 18-24 claim housing benefit
  • 204,000 (53%) have dependent children
  • At least 17% (66,000) of 18-24 year olds claiming housing benefit are also working
  • 28,000 (7%) are sick or disabled and claiming ESA
  • Around a quarter are jobseekers (99,000)
  • 45% of 18-24 year olds on JSA find a job within three months and 64% within 6 months

Ends

Notes to editor

For further media information or to request an interview with a Crisis spokesperson, please contact Garry Lemon at Crisis on 020 7426 5652 or garry.lemon@crisis.org.uk

Link to Crisis campaign No Going Home

CASE STUDY

Jade’s father sexually abused her from the age of 11. Living in fear throughout her adolescence, she tried to commit suicide three times. Because she had nowhere else to go, Jade remained in her family home until she was 19, when she could bear it no longer.

Jade began sleeping on her older sister’s sofa, but says she felt like a burden, so she ended up staying with a friend. While there she got in touch with a scheme that helped set her up with a private rented flat. She is living there now live with another girl, and says she is happier than she has ever been.

Jade’s rent is £70 a week, which is paid entirely by housing benefit. She says without housing benefit she would be dead as she would have ended her own life. For her, living with her parents is simply not an option.

Jade is a trained hairdresser. Until very recently she was working in a salon, but she was made redundant. She is desperately looking for a new job and looking forward to the day she won’t need to claim housing benefit.

Jade says: “If it wasn’t for housing benefit I probably wouldn’t even be alive. I know it’s like dead drastic, but I feel like a burden on everybody. I have not wanted to live with my parents since I was about 12, 13. I’ve always had this situation at home. But if I wasn’t here now… I would be dead. That is me being honest."

“Some people have gone through a rough time like I have. But I would not be here without benefits. You know when I was younger, I always used to say, ‘Oh I’m not going to be a dole dosser, I’m not gonna take people’s tax money.’ But I’m really thankful for what the government have done.”

[Jade’s name and some details have been changed to protect her identity]

1. From David Cameron’s keynote speech at the Conservative Party Conference 2012: ‘Choice one: Work hard. Go to college. Get a job. Live at home. Save up for a flat. And as I’ve just said, that can feel like forever. Or: Don’t get a job. Sign on. Don’t even need to produce a CV when you do sign on. Get housing benefit. Get a flat. And then don’t ever get a job or you’ll lose a load of housing benefit. We must be crazy.

‘So this is what we’ve done. Now you have to have to sign a contract that says: you do your bit and we’ll do ours. It requires you to have a real CV and it makes clear: you have to seek work and take work - or you will lose your benefit. And we’re going to look at ending automatic access to housing benefit for people under 25 too. If hard-working young people have to live at home while they work and save, why should it be any different for those who don’t?’

2. Link to official DWP statistics on young people claiming housing benefit

3. Link to official statistics on JSA claims

Crisis is the national charity for single homeless people. We are dedicated to ending homelessness by delivering life-changing services and campaigning for change. Our innovative education, employment, housing and well-being services address individual needs and help people to transform their lives. We are determined campaigners, working to prevent people from becoming homeless and advocating solutions informed by research and our direct experience. We have ambitious plans for the future and are committed to help more people in more places across the UK. We know we won’t end homelessness overnight or on our own. But we take a lead, collaborate with others and, together, make change happen.

 

 

 

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