Youth homelessness update for July 2015: Chancellor announces Housing Benefit plans for 18-21s but many questions remain

Monday, 27 July 2015 - 12:00pm

Our monthly review of the latest developments affecting youth homelessness.

In his Budget speech on 8 July George Osborne announced: “We are also abolishing the automatic entitlement to housing benefit for 18-21 year olds.” and “There will be exceptions made for vulnerable people and other hard cases.”

The actual Government Budget documents said: “To prevent young people slipping straight into a life on benefits, from April 2017 the Budget will also remove the automatic entitlement to housing support for new claims in Universal Credit from 18-21 year olds who are out of work”

Justin Tomlinson MP, a Government minister has said: As set out in the 8th July’s budget, this policy will be introduced for certain new Universal Credit claims from April 2017. All claimants that are receiving Housing Benefit will not be affected by this policy.”

However, when the Government produced the Welfare Reform and Work Bill the following day, these proposals for 18-21 year olds were conspicuous by their absence.

What we know (and what we don’t)

There is some confusion as to what is going on. This is the situation as we now understand it.

  • The proposals will only apply to Universal Credit claimants, not those on Housing Benefit. This will mean that hostels and most supported housing will not be affected. Although people moving on from services could be affected.
  • Originally the policy only applied to Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants (rather than people who are, for example, sick). We cannot be sure if that is still the case. 
  • The rules will come in from April 2017.
  • There will not be a new Act of Parliament to introduce the rules instead of existing laws being modified.
  • There will be exemptions to the new rules but we do not know what they will be yet.

What happens next? What can you do?

It looks as though any plans will not be coming in for nearly two years, so we will be asking Government to consult widely on the issues, especially the exemptions.

We are particularly interested to hear what you think the impact will be and who needs to be covered by any exemptions.

Homeless Link will keep this page regularly updated to ensure you have the most up-to-date information. 

To get involved, please get in touch with me.