Local MSP Maree Todd SNP has said Tory Government cuts to Housing Support for 18-21 year olds is “shameful” by removing an “essential lifeline for vulnerable youngsters”.
Housing charities including Shelter, Centrepoint, and Crisis have repeatedly warned the UK Government that this cut to housing support will result in more young people sleeping rough on the streets.
The changes, which took effect from 1 April 2017, remove the entitlement to housing support for 18 to 21 year-olds in receipt of Universal Credit who do not have a specific exemption, such as disability or childcare.
Speaking in a member’s debate on Wednesday 17th May about Housing Benefit cuts to 18-21 year-olds, which was brought forward by Edinburgh Northern and Leith MSP Ben Macpherson, Maree Todd MSP said;
“This particular cut, to housing support for 18-21 year olds, is yet another heartless Tory policy which attacks a vulnerable group of people.”
“This policy fails to take into account the reality of many young people’s lives. The option of being able to live with your parents is not a luxury that is open to everyone. These cuts will affect those who, through no fault of their own, find themselves in desperately difficult situations.”
“For those who leave home abruptly – be it because of an abusive relationship, their sexual or gender identity – social housing is their sanctuary, their sanity. It provides them with much needed stability.”
“Tampering with this vital safety net will result in more young people being left to fend for themselves on the streets.”
Recent research by Heriot-Watt University found that, once the costs of vital exemptions and costs to other public services have been taken into account, the policy would save a maximum of £3.3m. It found that only an additional 140 young people would need to become homeless before the policy would end up costing more than it saved.
Maree Todd MSP said;
“This policy doesn’t even make sound economic sense. This shows that this policy is more about the Tories pursing their ideological obsession with austerity, which stems from a misguided and cynical worldview and false assertions about the motivations and circumstances of young people in our communities, than it is about making savings”.
The Scottish Government, which has criticised the approach, has used partly devolved social security powers to mitigate the policies – such as the Bedroom Tax, which previously reduced housing support. The Scottish Welfare Fund will now be extended on an interim basis to ensure those young people who will be excluded from financial support by the UK Government will still be able to receive assistance with housing costs.