Banning under-25s would be a logistical and moral mess, landlords warn
Warning over housing benefit plan for under-25s
Attempts to simplify benefits through universal credit will fail if the government accepts a controversial proposal to stop out-of-work under-25s receiving housing benefit, the Chartered Institute of Housing has warned.
A Number 10 spokesperson confirmed the Downing Street policy unit is examining a proposal to withdraw the right of unemployed people under 25 years of age to claim benefit to cover their housing costs. This would lower their entitlement under universal credit, which will replace a series of existing benefits, including housing benefit, from October 2013. Instead, they would be encouraged to return to their family home. People in low-paid employment would still be able to claim housing benefit under the plans.
A recent report by the Building and Social Housing Foundation found 93 per cent of new housing benefit claimants were employed.
Universal credit is designed to simplify the benefit system and reduce costs to the public purse, but sector figures warn these aims are less likely to be met if under-25s are excluded from claiming housing costs.
Sam Lister, policy and practice officer at the Chartered Institute of Housing, warned that some people under 25 would not live with their parents for a variety of reasons or may have no family.
He warned that these people would have to be identified and supported in other ways, such as through council emergency accommodation services, which could increase administration and lead to higher costs.
He said: ‘The whole idea of universal credit is to simplify everything, but this could make matters more complex. The government is setting up universal credit to fail with this suggestion.’
Ken Youngman, finance director at 20,000-home Family Mosaic, said the proposal would ‘make the whole thing more complicated’.
A National Housing Federation spokesperson said it would place many people at risk of homelessness.
The Number 10 spokesperson said: ‘It has been suggested as a policy, but that is as far as it has gone.’
Chancellor George Osborne last month cited a Treasury analysis showing additional welfare savings of £10 billion were needed by 2016 to prevent cuts to other departments.