Benefit changes for 18-21 year olds: further details announced

Sunday, 7 August 2016 - 3:13pm

The Youth Obligation is being introduced next April 2017 into geographical areas with the Full Universal Credit service.

In 2015, we ran a number of updates about the Government’s plans to reform the benefit system for 18-21 year olds. In the most recent posting, we outlined that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) had confirmed that the introduction of the Youth Obligation, with its tougher conditionality, and the removal of “automatic entitlement” to housing support for 18-21 year olds, was set to happen in April 2017. Both would only apply to young people making new Universal Credit (UC) claims.

At that point, there had not been any confirmation of the timetable for the regulations on bringing these changes into law, but we had anticipated they would be in place in the first half of 2016.

Since then progress seemed to slow and very little has come out from DWP, causing concern and frustration amongst agencies working with young people. 

We now have one piece of new information which should be read in conjunction with our blog from September 2015. All the information in that blog remains correct – except, we now know that, the Youth Obligation is only being introduced next April 2017 into geographical areas with the Full Universal Credit service rather than across the whole of Great Britain.

A partial list of the areas that will fit into that category can be found here (although this list does not include areas due to get Full UC early next year).

In short - until an area has full UC, it will not have Youth Obligation.

Going forward, we are still in conversation with DWP about how the Youth Obligation will dovetail with the work homelessness agencies already undertake to move young people experiencing homelessness closer to the labour market.  

As far as we know, the DWP still plan to remove the “automatic entitlement” of 18-21s from UC housing costs to pay for rent next April. But as with the Youth Obligation, no regulations have been published nor, crucially, has any information on exemptions been released.

We are also expecting soon, some details of the new “Work and Health Programme” which will reform work-search support for some Employment Support Allowance (ESA) and long-term Job Seeker Allowance (JSA) claimants. This new programme is due to come in from September 2017   

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