The Government have responded to our petition but they completely miss the point.

Posted on: 26 February 2024

When we reached 10,000 signatures on our petition to create a national strategy to end youth homelessness, the Government were required to give us a response. Since that day on 26th January, nearly 300 young people have come through the doors of New Horizon Youth Centre and thousands more have become homeless for the first time.

We have now finally received the Government’s response, but it is totally misses the point, so our calls for reaching 100,000 signatures to force the Government into a real debate is now more important than ever!

Here are the #PlanForThe136k collective’s shared thoughts on the Government’s response:

With youth homelessness at an all-time high, the organisations behind the #PlanForThe136k coalition welcome the Government’s commitment to ending homelessness in all its forms but their response misses the urgency of the matter and it misses the point. In the 27 days we have waited for a response, more than 10,000 young people may have approached their council as homeless in line with the latest youth homelessness figures.

Time and time again, experience has told us that if housing and homelessness strategies do not design in young people from the outset then they effectively exclude them. That is why the £2billion investment from Government into tackling homelessness has failed to stop significant increases in levels of both rough sleeping and homelessness and why it has done very little to protect young people specifically from homelessness. Indeed, the numbers of young people facing homelessness have risen more than 12% since the last general election.

Indeed, it is telling that of £2billion invested, the only funding that we can say for certain has been spent on young people is £2.5million through the Rough Sleeping Initiative and £3million for those leaving care. This represents just 0.25% of the total investment into tackling homelessness despite 18-24 year olds making up 18% of those who approach councils for help.

Because young people are not deemed priority need under our homelessness laws, they will, by definition, be deprioritised and it is why the £1billion passed to Councils under the Homeless Prevention Grant will often not benefit them. It is clear many councils are simply overwhelmed with the number of people facing homelessness and, with limited resources, are choosing to support those for who there is a statutory requirement to do so. We do not blame councils for this but as a result the country’s most vulnerable young people find themselves at the sharp end of a system failure that starts with a lack of government planning and resource.

And it was for this exact reason we have been calling for a national, young people focussed, strategy to end youth homelessness. Until we start to see young people as a specific group, who experience homelessness differently and who need different solutions we will never progress, no matter how much money is allocated.

LHA – or Local Housing Allowance, the amount of housing benefit someone can claim – is a prime example of this. Although we welcome the recent uprating of this the reality is that for many young people the private rented sector remains unaffordable as those under 25 are subject to lower wages and can claim 26% less Universal Credit despite rent and bills costing the same as any adult. It is no surprise that research by Centrepoint shows that many young people are left with just £5 a month after rent and bills each month. It is no wonder that 136,000 young people approached their council as homeless last year.

But it doesn’t have to be like this. Like the Government, we agree that every young person deserves a roof over their head and a safe place to call home. But to get there requires a bold, youth-specific response that is based on the experiences of young people and evidence from the sector. Such a strategy and approach would have an immediate impact and directly transform the lives and futures of the most vulnerable young people. Such a strategy would begin to address the age-related discrimination, lack of appropriate and affordable housing, reduce other forms of discrimination and fight exploitation. Such a strategy would ensure there is a #PlanForThe136k, and we will keep fighting until we get it.

By the #PlanForThe136k Coalition

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