On Friday 3rd March the UK Government laid out regulations which will restrict 18-21 year olds from claiming the housing element of Universal Credit. 

Llamau works with thousands of young people every year who are either homeless or at risk of homelessness, and we fear the introduction of this new legislation will significantly increase the number of young people at risk of homelessness. We urge the government to reconsider the introduction of a policy which will have disastrous consequences for thousands of young people.

For many of the young people we support, it is simply not safe nor suitable for them to remain living at home, and the housing element of Universal Credit should provide a safety net for them, ensuring they are not at risk of living on the streets. Without this safety net, it is very likely that many more young people will be forced into living on the streets or living in unsafe and unsuitable accommodation.

Llamau supports thousands of young people every year who are at risk of homelessness, and we fully support the Government’s approach to ensuring that young people remain at home where possible. Our Family Mediation project works with young people and their parents and supports young people to remain at home, but for some young people it is simply not safe for them to do so.

We are also very supportive of the Government’s desire to encourage young people into education, training and employment and to encourage them to live independent and purposeful lives. Through our own training programmes, Learning 4 Life and Symud Ymlaen / Moving Forward, we support young people back into work, training and education. However, many of the young people we support simply could not access training provision without financial support for housing, while they are in training. Housing Benefit provides vital support for young people while they are making positive steps towards a future in employment – removing this entitlement is very likely to increase their need for benefits in the future.

Furthermore, research by Herriot Watt University shows that the introduction of the new policy will save the Government just £3.3 million, and that even these savings would be eroded if just 140 young people were made homeless as a result of the policy.

Frances Beecher, Chief Executive of Llamau, said, “We are extremely concerned about the introduction of this policy, which we believe will put so many more young people at unnecessary risk of homelessness, and which will potentially cost the taxpayer more in the long-run.”

“While we acknowledge that some steps have been taken to include exemptions in the legislation, we do not believe that the policy can be implemented without putting some young people at serious risk of falling through the net. We are very concerned that the legislation will require young people to prove that they cannot live at home in order to access Universal Credit payments – something which will be extremely difficult to prove to an assessor with no previous relationship with the young person.”

When we asked the young people we support what they would do if they couldn’t access Housing Benefit, many of them answered that they would be homeless because their family would not be in a position to support them.

To sign the UK Parliament petition to reverse the restriction to accessing housing benefit, click here.