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Thousands of young people are facing life on the streets in coming months if new restrictions on housing benefit go ahead.
Under current government plans unemployed people aged 18 to 21 will be stripped of their automatic right to housing benefit from 1 April.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) claims the policy will stop young people becoming dependent on welfare, and makes the system fairer for those who work.
A spokesman told the Guardian: “We want to make sure that 18–21-year-olds do not slip straight into a life on benefits, which is why we are helping young people get the training, skills and experience they need to move into a job and build a career.”
Anyone who is under 21 and rents could also be affected, because without the safety net of housing benefits, landlords will be less likely to let out properties to under 21s. Richard Lambert, chief executive officer of the National Landlords Association, said: “The Government has effectively closed the door to private rented housing for the most vulnerable individuals in society.
“Never mind the nuances, all landlords will hear is that 18–21-year-olds are no longer entitled to housing benefit.
“Faced with a young person who may not be able to pay the rent,?a landlord won’t worry about the details of their life, they just won’t consider them as a tenant.”
Shelagh O’Connor, the CEO of New Horizon Youth Centre, which sees 2,500 under-22s every year, said: “The government seems to think that all young people have the option to live at home whilst they establish themselves in life, but this just isn’t the case.”
She claims the charity sees around 2,500 under-22s every year, often escaping domestic violence and family breakdown. Many depend on Housing Benefit to support them into accommodation, so as to get jobs or take apprenticeships, she added. “The cuts announced will condemn these young people to a life of street homelessness.”?
• Some of those who have worked in the previous six months will still be able to claim housing costs.
• If there is a threat of domestic violence, young people may?be granted housing benefits?
• Anyone with dependent children can still claim
• Care leavers who are under 25 and who have spent lengthy spells in their local authorities care since turning 14, can claim
For more support contact the organisations in the Young People section of our listings.