Youth homelessness could be increased by housing benefit cuts

  • New research has found that plans to ban 19-21 year olds on jobseeker's allowance from claiming housing benefit would save taxpayers less than the government's estimate and increase youth homelessness.

    Research has found that taxpayers would save £3m rather than the estimated £120m from stopping young people from claiming housing benefit, whilst also increasing the number of young people who are homeless./images/briefing/padlock.jpg

    Heriot-Watt University and campaign group End Youth Homelessness' report - ‘Lifeline not Lifestyle' -reveals that not only would savings be small, but  only 140 additional young people than estimated by the research would need to become homeless for new claimant restrictions to actually begin costing taxpayers, reports 24dash.

    The report looks at councils' duties to house people with priority need and concludes that if these groups were not exempted local authorities would need to pay for accommodation via their own budgets

    Using conservative assumptions Heriot-Watt University researchers estimate that exempting these and a number of other vulnerable groups would reduce potential government savings by £50m. 

    Seyi Obakin, CEO of the youth homelessness charity Centrepoint, a member of EYH, said: "Implementing this cut to housing benefit would be simply catastrophic, forcing thousands of young people back on to the streets. For the most vulnerable young people in this country housing benefit is not a lifestyle, it's a lifeline. We recognise the aim of reducing the welfare bill, but the price of leaving thousands of young people without a safety net is one that no government should be prepared to pay. This report sends a clear message to all political parties in this country that there is no economic case for cutting housing benefit for 18-21 year-olds. Currently many young people face an uncertain future when it comes to finding a place to live and speculation about what might happen to housing benefit after the election only adds to this uncertainty. We urge all political parties to now rule out any more changes to housing benefit so that some of the most vulnerable young people in the country can move towards employment from a firm housing foundation."

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