Sunday, 30 April 2017

Housing benefit changes are going to hit vulnerable young people hard

From: Horton Housing Association

The Government’s austerity measures, it seems, are making it harder and harder for vulnerable young people to secure and manage a tenancy.
From April 2017, those aged between 16 and 21 who are out of work, will not be automatically entitled to claim housing benefit.
The announcement is very worrying for housing support services such our YPASS (Young Person’s Prevention and Support Service) scheme which works with young people who are homeless or are at risk of homelessness.For many of the young people coming through our doors, living at home with parents is simply not an option. They may be experiencing violence or abuse at home, may have been kicked out of home or may be too old for foster care arrangements. Young parents in particular may often struggle to get a place to live.
Finding a job in today’s economic climate is not always that easy. According to figures released by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) in February, the youth unemployment rate is the worst for 20 years and 16-24 year olds are three times as likely to be jobless than the rest of the population. The figures showed that there are 498,000 in that age group without a job.
Even young people in work are likely to get paid less. The wage of an apprentice under 19 or in their first year of an apprenticeship is just £2.73 an hour, rising to £6.50 an hour for those aged over 21. For those at the bottom end of the scale, earning just over £100 a week, it’s not going to be easy to manage rent, bills and food. Young people will not benefit from the National Living Wage announcement either as that will only apply to those over 25.
Young people already face enough barriers to even getting their own tenancy, let alone maintaining it. Landlords are often reluctant to rent their properties out to young people with no track record of managing a home.
Young people may struggle to get enough money together for a deposit. They may not have the budgeting skills to manage their money and may not even be able to access a bank account which offers direct debit facilities. Even getting together ID such as a passport or a driving licence can sometimes be an issue.
We try to help young people by offering a mediation service, advice and support sessions, a bond guarantee scheme and welcome packs with some of the basics young people need to set up a home. Some young people start off their tenancies without as much as a kettle or bedding, so these little things make a real difference.
The Government says that some ‘vulnerable young people’ will be excluded from the housing benefit changes but what does this mean in reality? Surely all young people who find themselves without anywhere to live are vulnerable?

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From Horton Housing Association

Horton Housing Association provides housing, training and support services for vulnerable people in Bradford, Kirklees, Calderdale and North Yorkshire

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