Friday, 27 March 2015

Charities urge MPs to block housing benefit cut

Plans to cut housing benefit from households if a young adult member of the family is seeking work could increase homelessness, charities have warned.

Government proposals being voted on today could result in an £800 annual cut from housing benefit paid to parents or guardians with a young person aged under 25 who is living at home and seeking work. Current rules don’t make a deduction if the young person is claiming Jobseekers’ Allowance.

Homelessness charities Crisis and Shelter have warned this will put additional pressure on low-income families. Young people seeking work, who receive a lower level of jobseeker’s allowance than those over 25, will have no way of making up the £800 deduction, they said.

Currently more than 600,000 young people are unemployed and not in education. Figures from the Office for National Statistics show one in three men under 34 now lives at home, and one in six women.

If MPs vote in favour of the change it would come into force later this year under universal credit.

The charities warned that it could ultimately cost the taxpayer more money as under 25s who are living with their parents may have no choice but to make a housing benefit claim of their own.

They have called on the government to urgently rethink the proposals.

Leslie Morphy, chief executive of Crisis, said: ‘Together with the “bedroom tax” this move will mean many parents are penalised whether or not their grown up children move out of home.’

Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter, said: ‘In the current economic climate young people need to be supported to get back into work, not forced to bear the brunt of further cuts to the housing safety net. Tragically it seems inevitable that we’ll see an increase in youth homelessness as a result.’

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