We are deeply concerned about the government's imminent cuts to the housing element of Universal Credit for those under 22, and are asking all our supporters and partners to email their MPs to call for an urgent rethink of the policy.
I am writing to draw your attention to the decision announced by the government on Friday 3rd March to remove entitlement to the housing cost element of Universal Credit for 18-21 year olds1. I urge you to do what you can to get ministers to reverse this decision.
Disadvantaged young people are already suffering due to low wages, zero-hours jobs and impossibly high rents. Thousands who can’t stay in the family home (for example due to family breakdown or domestic violence) will now find the crucial safety net of Housing Benefit has been removed, making it impossible for them to establish independence and forcing them onto the streets.
The government claims that exemptions will be made for those the Secretary of State deems “inappropriate … to live with each of their parents”, but it is unclear what evidence will be required and this could mean a burden of proof being placed e.g. on those suffering abuse.
Landlords are already signalling that this change will mean they will no longer rent to under 22s, with a Residential Landlords Association survey showing 76% fear this measure will leave under them unable to pay their rent. Hostels are even more expensive than private rooms so will be unable to house these young people.
This punitive decision on the most vulnerable young people can only impact adversely by forcing those at risk of homelessness onto the streets. Rough sleeping as you are aware is already rising as people’s options become increasingly limited and has an ensuing terrible impact on each individual’s health and wellbeing.
Please raise your voice in the House of Commons to prevent this measure going ahead.
If you want to get in touch or share your thoughts just use the hashtag #NHYC
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