Cruel new cut threatens vulnerable young people with homelessness

Removing housing benefit will make it harder for young people to start work


The abolition of housing benefit for 18-21 year-olds on Jobseekers Allowance, announced today, has dismayed homelessness charities. Jon Sparkes, the chief executive of Crisis, called it a ‘disaster for thousands of young people’, adding that:

“For many young people, living with their parents simply isn’t an option. They may be escaping violent or abusive backgrounds; or there may be no room for them in the family home. Housing benefit can be all that stands between them and homelessness.

“It can mean keeping a roof over their heads whilst they look for work or get their lives back on track. Far from helping them, taking this support away could make it even harder for them to find a job.”

This last point is the most important. Conservative welfare reforms do not help people get into work. This latest announcement is another example of a gross miscalculation by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) – both moral and logical – which says, take away everything and people will have no choice but to work.

The problem is, if you’re left with nothing you often end up stuck there. For example, benefit claimants who are sanctioned – leaving them without enough money to feed themselves – have reported their frustration at not being able to afford to travel to job interviews. Young people without a stable home will find it much more difficult to search and apply for jobs; at best they will be constantly changing location, at worst they will be sleeping rough. Neither situation is conducive to motivation and focus.

The IFS have said the cut will affect about 20,000 young adults – a big number but not enough that it will make any really substantial saving. They calculated that the move will save only about £0.1billion, and said the government may as well abolish the benefit for all under-25s if they want to see any real gains.

The announcement of the cut in the Queen’s Speech today coincided with the release of an OECD report on youth unemployment which should make the new government very uncomfortable. The OECD Skills Outlook 2015 warned that governments across OECD countries need to do more to give young people a good start to their working lives and help them find work; tackling youth unemployment, said secretary-general Angel Gurría, is ‘not only a moral imperative, but also an economic necessity’.

The latest ONS estimates found that there were 943,000 young people (aged from 16 to 24) in the UK who were Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET). The issues associated with young people who find themselves in the NEET category are include low educational attainment, gang membership, early criminalisation, drug culture and dependency, care needs, teenage pregnancy, and in many cases an overlap of several of these factors.

Adding the threat of homelessness to this list of concerns is not only senseless, it is terribly cruel.

Among the recommendations of the OECD report is that:

“Public employment services, social welfare institutions and education and training systems should offer some form of second-chance education or training.

“In return for receiving social benefits, young people could be required to register with social welfare or public employment services, and participate in further education and training.”

Instead, the government have launched the new parliament with a cut which embodies their welfare ideology – tough love without the love, punitive, counterproductive and not inclined to second chances. They say they will continue to protect those with nowhere else to go, but the problem is that it is often not evident who this is until it is too late, until the most hopeless find themselves without a roof over their heads, off the radar and out of options.

Ruby Stockham is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward. Follow her on Twitter

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22 Responses to “Cruel new cut threatens vulnerable young people with homelessness”

  1. steroflex

    What have we come to when, after 18 years, men and women cannot find a house to live for themselves? When they need to be propped up by the state? When they have had some thirteen years of free education?
    Why should tax payers pay even more for these people? Have we not paid enough already?
    Before the Welfare State took over, people left school at 14 and went straight to work. Why does this not happen now?

  2. JustAnotherNumber

    I wonder about the Tory utopia you must live in. I’m really not sure whether it would be a pleasant place to visit or not.

    I suppose it would be nice to finally see all those big houses with plenty of space for the whole family, with big leafy gardens and a copy of the Daily Mail delivered hot-off-the-press each morning by the enterprising young paperboy. The countless attractive new affordable started homes that the occupants can pay for easily with public service wages, the boundless opportunities for everyone of all ages to find a job that pays well enough to afford a home of your own, the flawless social cohesion of the perfect society.

    I suppose the only problem is that it would be full of ignorant, ill-informed, bigoted fools like you.

  3. gw7ted

    You sir are a blind blinkered idiot.

  4. marje arnold

    because there are no jobs – despite what the government says. why is that you ask? because we have sold of all our industry to foreigners and because margaret thatcher said service industries will get us by and the finance sector , which has seen the biggest corruption ever known. thuis government is carrying on where she left off . you need to live in the real world.

  5. JoeDM

    Its about time they got off their fat arses and went out and got a job !!!

  6. Brumanuensis

    In which JoeDM reveals that he doesn’t know that Housing Benefit is an in-work benefit and that a substantial proportion of claimants are either working, retired or unable to work due to ill health, in addition to those who are jobseekers.

    Try again Joe.

  7. Jacobsadder

    Before the welfare state people endured intolerable hardship and often died, horribly from malnutrition and concomitant illnesses. Before the welfare state there was unemployment and starvation. Before the welfare state the world in which we lived was a completely different place than the one we inhabit now. So to praise a system that worked then hardly applies to the world in which we live now. Do you wish to see the return of child labour? Do you suggest they leave school at 14 and flock to the burger bars and the call centres in search of a job? Before that we shipped in slaves by the thousand, we stole them off their lands while stealing their lands – should we bring that back? Unfortunately there are those who desire changes such as this, and they are slowly introducing them – they are called Tories.

    I take it you don’t in any way benefit from public services? You’ve obviously put enough money aside for that rainy day so you don’t need support if you suddenly find yourself unemployed? Even worse, a victim of a condition meaning work is no longer a viable option? If so, you are one of a very select few. If not, then be careful, as you could be labelled a ‘scrounger’ the minute you need that support. Either way, continue to preach from on high, sit in naive arrogant smugness and judge those less fortunate than yourself if that’s how you get your gratification. You must be brimming with self satisfied pride, much like the Bullingdon gods you so obviously worship.

  8. Mike Stallard

    None of the above is argument is it. It is actually ad hominem and that really does not work. None of you know me at all, do you. So you are just guessing.
    The state is not the agency to hand taxpayers’ money down to teenagers who, incidentally, are now being touted as voters. Why? Because the Ministers and Officers really do not know the difference between welfare scroungers and lay-abouts like those on Jeremy Kyle, and people (like myself) who have to go onto the dole and then get off it after a very unfair dismissal involving spirited defence by my excellent Union Rep.
    It used to be called the difference between the deserving and the undeserving poor.
    If you do not admit that there are undeserving poor, then, frankly, you have absolutely no right to comment.
    And, as I can tell you from bitter experience, taking the State’s hand-out is humiliating and it changes you too – into a beggar with not a shred of dignity.

  9. althejazz

    In other words, “Stuff you jack, I’m all right”

  10. Seditive

    People who left school at 14 generally went straight into jobs involving manual labour, which used to be in plentiful supply. The world’s changed since then.

  11. Tyler Durden

    Great argument and counter point, you sir should run for office!

  12. althejazz

    Why are there people who are referred to as “undeserving poor” when nobody refers to the “undeserving rich” who are probably about the same in number but actually cost us about a million times more than the “undeserving poor” ? You are the one who has no right to comment as it shows that you don’t give damn.

  13. althejazz

    What job ? Or do you believe the tories’ lies and spin. Or perhaps you feel that a zero hours contract or poverty pay are all that any of us deserve.

  14. Brumanuensis

    “Because the Ministers and Officers really do not know the difference between welfare scroungers and lay-abouts like those on Jeremy Kyle, and people (like myself) who have to go onto the dole and then get off it after a very unfair dismissal involving spirited defence by my excellent Union Rep”.

    I see. THEY are worthless scroungers. YOU are a virtuous, wronged citizen. Everyone else is a scumbag, but you on the other hand are an exception.

    “It used to be called the difference between the deserving and the undeserving poor.If you do not admit that there are undeserving poor, then, frankly, you have absolutely no right to comment”.

    If you don’t admit that the numbers of ‘undeserving’ – to use that horrible, slippery word – poor, are minuscule compared to the many ordinary, decent people who happen to live in poverty, then frankly you have absolutely no right to comment.

    “And, as I can tell you from bitter experience, taking the State’s hand-out is humiliating and it changes you too – into a beggar with not a shred of dignity”.

    That probably says more about you than anyone else.

  15. Selohesra

    Knee jerk lefty reaction No. 3 – “its all Thatcher’s fault”

  16. steroflex

    Where do you get your figures from?

  17. steroflex

    Again, how do you know that? As a matter of fact I give a very great damn actually.
    Also, I am in no way defending the very rich who are getting a lot richer compared with the rest of us. Especially the ones who are milking the Social Services, the NHS and the government.
    Until the Labour movement wakes up and starts supporting the real workers instead of the sham ones, we are never going to get anywhere.

  18. steroflex

    None – but at 21 after getting married in the 1960s? Almost everyone.

  19. marje arnold

    I dont do knee jerk reaction. i am a 73 years old and i have lived through tory and labour governments so i think i am qualified to state my opinion. I did not say all tories were bad – in fact i think mcmiillon was a great PM. under him this country thrived rich and poor alike. We really had never had it so good. Part of that was because he genuinly cared about people and his country. margaret thatcher was not a pleasant lady – were do you think the phrase “nasty party” came from?
    these politicians today are not conservative (nor was blair true labour. they are what is titled “neo liberalism” and they care only for themselves and their cronies and making as much money as they can. They have always got their eye on what they want after they leave parliament. Now i have granchildren who have got jobs and who have gone through university and done really well. i also know young people who would love a proper job but all that is available is zero hours or “avon reps”. who with any aspiration wants to be an avon rep. That is what ladies used to do for pin money. so dont you try to tell me i have knee jerk reaction. we have sold all our industries to foreign companies who have no loyalties to this country. Countries like Germany and France must be roaring with laughter as we sell our energy companies to them. and let them sell us windfarms. Tell me why we cant produce those ourselves instead of giving it away. You think about these things and you will see why ifeel the way i do when i see our governments selling us out .

  20. Brumanuensis

    “Fascinating.Where do you get your figures from?”

    Perhaps you’d care to consult the statistics on benefit fraud.

  21. Mike Stallard

    Look, just think about what you have just written.
    Down here at the bottom of the pack, we can see, with our own eyes what is going on. We know, believe me. We can see the authorities being hoodwinked. I could (and won’t) name names.
    The dear old government agencies blunder on with their “facts” and “figures” no doubt. But think – they do not know! So their figures are completely worthless!

  22. Richard

    If there are no jobs why do East Europeans and many others keep coming here?

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