YMCA England warns of ‘long-term consequences’ of Housing Benefit changes

YMCA is warning of the ‘long-term consequences’ of proposed Housing Benefit changes announced in the Queen’s Speech.

The charity, which was formed in 1844 and which provides just under 10,000 beds across England, says more than 1,400 young people currently in its care could be left homeless or rough sleeping if Government plans to remove automatic entitlement to Housing Benefit for 18 to 21 year olds with the introduction of the Full Employment and Welfare Bill.

Additionally, latest figures show that 19,031 young people across the country could be affected with more than three in five of those living in social housing*.

YMCA is a national Federation and has 114 members across England. These members intensively supported 228,000 young people last year.

Denise Hatton, Chief Executive of YMCA England, said: “YMCA understands the need for the Government to reduce the levels of youth unemployment and the overall spend on welfare, however, there are long-term consequences for removing Housing Benefit for this age group.

“The misconception is that young people are simply abusing the system to have a good life when, in reality, for young people accessing the social security system, it is not a choice but a necessity.

“Nearly 1,400 young people currently supported by YMCAs would be left homeless if entitlement to Housing Benefit was removed for all 18 to 21 year olds.

“Whether it be due to having a young child to look after, having recently left care or having been made homeless, for many of these young people, returning home is not an option and Housing Benefit is only thing separating them from the street.

“YMCAs work day in, day out to support young people to gain employment and improve their educational prospects and many young people are only able to do so by accessing Housing Benefit. Removing this will only create further instability in their lives and make the prospect of finding work more difficult.

“YMCA would urge the Government to retain automatic Housing Benefit entitlement for 18 to 21 year olds so that the most vulnerable young people in the country continue to receive protection and support during their times of crisis and need.”

Click here to read what young person, Sam, from YMCA Humber, thinks about the changes.

Click here to read the joint briefing with Centrepoint, Crisis, Homeless Link, Kids Company, Shelter and St Mungo’s Broadway on the impact of removing Housing Benefit for 18 to 21 year olds.

Sign up to support the YMCA England Manifesto for young people here.

*Source: Department for Work and Pensions – Housing Benefit Statistics