The Norfolk and Norwich Christian community website

Housing Benefit cuts will impact Norfolk youth 

Concern about the impact that Housing Benefit cuts may have on young people in Norfolk has been expressed following the release of national research by YMCA England yesterday (August 4), and that they could lead to 130 more becoming homeless.

Uncertain Futures has been produced by YMCA England in partnership with YMCAs and its residents all over England. You can download a copy of the report here.

It looks at the impact of proposed welfare changes that will see the automatic entitlement to Housing Benefit removed for 18 to 21-year-olds who find themselves out of work.

Based on an examination of those young people currently claiming unemployment and housing benefits, the research identifies that, without the right protections, the Government is in danger of exposing many of the most vulnerable young people to the risk of becoming homeless.
Among the 19,000 18 to 21-year-olds claiming unemployment and housing benefits there are a number of vulnerable young people including:
  • those who have dependent children to look after (2,100 18 to 21-year-olds claiming JSA and Housing Benefit have at least one dependent child)
  • those who have recently left care (7,200 young care leavers between 19 and 21 years old are currently out of work and would potentially be eligible to claim JSA and Housing Benefit)
  • those who are homeless (last year between 5,800 and 6,400 18 to 21-year-olds were identified by local authorities as being homeless and in priority need)
  • those in supported accommodation (nearly 1,400 18 to 21-year-olds currently living in YMCA accommodation claim both JSA and Housing Benefit)
YMCA Norfolk CEO, Tim Sweeting, said that changes highlighted in the Uncertain Futures report will see support inadvertently being taken away from the “country’s most vulnerable young people” in the coming years. This could, in turn, harm young people’s future job prospects or even force more into homelessness.

Tim said: “The changes, which will see the automatic entitlement for Housing Benefit removed for 18-21 year olds, could affect almost 50% of those currently housed and supported by the YMCA in Norfolk. This amounts to around 130 of the 260 young people currently offered a safe home and support by the YMCA in Norfolk.

“It will affect the most vulnerable young people in our county. For many young people we support, Housing Benefit provides a safety net at a point of crisis. It helps to provide a safe home and prevent young people from living in situations of domestic abuse and violence or turning to rough sleeping.”

Denise Hatton, YMCA England Chief Executive, added: “As the report we launched today shows, in seeking to tackle those small numbers taking advantage of the system, the Government is in real danger of inadvertently taking away support from some of the country’s most vulnerable young people.

“In removing entitlement to Housing Benefit, young people could face the prospect of losing not only a safety net but also a springboard that helps get them up and get their lives back on track.

“Unless firm and clear exemptions are put in place, thousands of young people who don’t have the option to go home will be left to face uncertain futures.”
YMCA is the oldest and largest youth charity in the world, nationally YMCA England is made up of 113 independent YMCAs operating across England. It provides 9,831 beds to young people every night and engages 43,000 people in training and education every year.

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