Centrepoint says newly released DWP figures should “greatly reassure” landlords that young people are entitled to receive housing benefit and can be considered in the same way as any other prospective tenant.
The figures – from an analysis of the policy to restrict access to support with housing costs – show 96% of 18-21 year olds who applied for support for housing costs were awarded it.
Around a third of these were exempted on the basis of being at risk of homelessness as vulnerable or unable to live at the family home.
Half of claimants aged 18-21 awarded support for housing costs in Universal Credit (UC) had dependent children – which exempts claimants from the policy
Centrepoint had a number of concerns about the policy and pressed for the government to apply exemptions.
Paul Noblet, Head of Public Affairs at Centrepoint, said housing benefit was a lifeline for young people, not a lifestyle choice.
“We are pleased that the Government implemented the exemption system needed to help ensure the most vulnerable in our society were not penalised by this cut.
“But we remain convinced that this policy was unnecessary. It will not deliver the savings promised to the taxpayer and has heaped years of stress on already vulnerable young people.
“There is still a real danger that this policy could have a chilling effect on young people’s ability to secure a tenancy of their own, trapping them in our hostels long after they are ready to live independently and preventing Centrepoint from helping others in need of a safe place to stay.
“We hope that these figures will greatly reassure landlords that young people are entitled to receive housing benefit and should be considered in the same way as any other prospective tenant,” he said.
Centrepoint also wants to see such information provided regularly with the quality of data on homelessness improved to politicians at local and national levels are “not making policy in the dark.”
From April last year, automatic entitlement to support for housing costs was removed for 18-21 year olds in UC Full Service areas.
The government wanted young people in the benefit system to face the same choices as other young people who go out to work but cannot yet afford to leave the parental home.
This policy does not apply to Housing Benefit or claimants who had been in receipt of support for housing costs in UC prior to April last year and who had ongoing housing costs after that date.
In addition, the policy does not apply to claimants receiving support for housing costs through Live Service immediately prior to transferring to Full Service.
The policy applies only to new claims for support for housing costs in UC Full Service areas for those who can reasonably be expected to live in the parental home but choose not to do so.
There are various exemptions from the policy.
These include, but are not limited to:
- Couples and those with dependent children
- Those in work with net earnings above the monthly equivalent of working 16 hours per week at the National Minimum Wage
- Victims of domestic violence
- Some disabled and carers
The figures presented in the latest release are based on new claims for support for housing costs.
They include cases flowing back on to UC after a period not in receipt of benefit but exclude re-awards and re-refusals within claims where reassessment for entitlement to support for housing cost occurs following a change of circumstances.