Housing for the under 25s now clearly seen as a luxury!

Scary stuff in the news today about the government looking to remove almost all access to housing benefit for under 25s.

This isn’t the first time the idea has been floated. So I don’t think it can be brushed aside as being too stupid for then to possibly bring in. Sadly despite this being exactly what such an idea deserves I fear this one might have legs…

So why am I so appalled? In my pre-parenting life I was chair of a youth homelessness charity. We saw first hand the young people who were facing homelessness, choosing homelessness sometimes, rather than stay with their parents. The impact of homelessness was great and had a highly detrimental impact on their life chances. It was definitely not easy. But fortunately in our area there were a number of hostels and schemes specifically for young homeless people, offering a roof over their head but so much more. With the support and assistance available some young people were able to reconcile with their families. Others were supported into independent accommodation and given ongoing help to sustain this. These services are provided by charities and voluntary sector bodies but the accommodation is almost all funded by Housing Benefit. Remove this and these services will close. Almost all accommodation services will be off-limits for young people in housing need.

And let’s remember that there are many reasons a young person might not be able to remain with their parents. Only domestic violence has been given as a possible exception. There were many, complex reasons why the young people we saw were facing homelessness. Many cases were further complicated by substance misuse. These issues can’t just be wished away.

And this isn’t only going to affect those at the sharp end of youth homelessness. Even those who’s parent’s might wish to house them could face great hardship. What about those nearing 25 who’ve successfully lived independently for several years but lose their job? What if they have a partner? What if they have children? What if they are in part-time or low paid work but still rely on Housing Benefit to pay the rent? Should all these people be forced to up root and move back in with the parents who happily waved them off several years before?

When I was 25 I’d been living independently, several hundred miles from my parents, since I was eighteen. I had a long term partner. I wasn’t reliant on Housing Benefit but had been on a series of short term work contracts and there had been a few times when I came close to needing some temporary support. To be forced to lose my flat and my independence for the sake of a few months rent would have put enormous pressure on my relationship and my fledgling career. I also know many others for whom Housing Benefit was a temporary, but vital, lifeline which ultimately helped them secure their independent future. Removing access to this safety net will cost far, far more in the long run.

I could say more but I see many commentators have already beaten me too it and far more eloquently too! Check out here and here.


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