Our third annual report on youth homelessness published in January 2014 found young homeless people are still facing many challenges but that progress is being made.
Nearly half of under 25s become homeless because parents no longer willing to house them
With new research indicating that around 4 in 10 young people become homeless because their parents are no longer willing to house them, umbrella body Homeless Link has reiterated its concerns about the proposal to restrict Housing Benefit for under-25 year olds and is urging that these proposals be dropped. The charity warns that this measure could damage the future prospects of those who are most in need of help.
Research indicates that homelessness amongst under-25s is a significant issue. Government figures show that between 1 October 2012 and 30 September 2013, 15,680 households headed by young people were accepted as statutory homeless in England . However, research by the charity Centrepoint in 2011, using wider data sets, estimated that at least 80,000 young people experience homelessness in the UK every year.
Young and Homeless 2013, based on a survey of 169 frontline agencies (homelessness charities and local authority housing departments), reveals that more than half of young people find themselves homeless because of relationship breakdown. Of those approaching local authorities for help:
- 44% said their parents were no longer willing to accommodate them
- 14% said a friend or relative was no longer willing to accommodate them
- 13% were victims of abuse or violence
For these individuals, remaining at home is simply not an option and Housing Benefit provides a vital safety net ensuring a successful move to independence. Research also indicates that nearly half of young homeless people face additional issues:
- More than 40% are not in education, employment or training (NEET) and many lack independent living skills
- 20% have substance misuse or mental health issues
- Around a fifth have poor numeracy and literacy skills
Evidence shows that, without a stable home and the right support, those who experience homelessness in their youth are more likely to experience complex and damaging problems in later life.
However, the report indicates that in many areas support services are under pressure and finding suitable accommodation for young people is becoming more problematic. 68% of homelessness agencies indicated there was not enough youth-specific emergency accommodation available in their area and 43% of local authorities reported placing young people in unsuitable B&B accommodation.
Findings show that cuts to local authority budgets could be reducing the level of support available, with reports of shrinking resources in many areas. In addition, changes to the welfare system are adding to the pressures young people face. For example, the extension of the Shared Accommodation Rate to include under-35s has increased competition in the already crowded private rental sector, with 41% of homelessness agencies reporting clients being significantly affected.
Commenting on these findings, Rick Henderson, Chief Executive of Homeless Link, said:
“It is vital that young people, at the most important time of their lives, are given the support they need to realise their potential and enjoy a bright future. For many, staying at home is simply not an option and these people need a helping hand, not an additional hurdle. That is why we are questioning the proposal to remove Housing Benefit for under-25s.
“A severe shortage of affordable housing and the highest levels of youth unemployment in nearly 20 years mean many young people face significant barriers to achieving their goals. We are calling on the Government to invest in their futures by ensuring the support is in place to make sure they have somewhere safe to call home.”
“It is encouraging to see that the help available to young homeless people has improved in many areas. However, action is needed to ensure this good work can continue.”
Homeless Link’s annual report highlights a number of areas where progress has been made since last year:
- Around three quarters of local authorities now provide mediation services which are proven to be highly effective in preventing youth homelessness
- There has also been an improvement in the way local authorities’ Housing and Children’s Services departments work together with 95% reporting having a joint protocol in place
- Two thirds of local authorities reported that joint working was effective or very effective, compared to around half in last year’s report
The report includes a number of recommendations from homeless young people to both government and local authorities for how they can prevent homelessness amongst under-25s and improve the support available to those in need. These include more prevention services, support to improve young people’s education, training and employment skills, improved accommodation options and continued investment in young people’s support services.
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"It is vital that young people, at the most important time of their lives, are given the support they need to realise their potential and enjoy a bright future"Rick Henderson, Homeless Link
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