A number of my constituents have recently contacted me in opposition to the proposals to ban housing benefit for under 25s.
Many of my constituents have pointed out how important housing beneft has been for them in extremely difficult times where they had no where else to turn. Without that support many of them would have been made homeless.
I share my constituent’s concerns about these worrying plans which seem to have been made without an accurate understanding of the realities faced by young people and what seems to be unfair assumptions about housing benefit claimants.
The over-riding concerns I have about these plans is the assumption made by this Government that most18-24 year old housing benefit claimants are both single and jobless. By framing the debate in this inaccurate context it leads to poor and unhelpful solutions being put forward as highlighted by these proposals.
Many 18-24 have their own family members, like children of their own to support - this automatically makes it very difficult for that young person and their family to simply move back into their parents home. You are unfairly and unrealistically expecting them to be able to house three generations of family. You should be aware that there will be some young people whose parents are also housing benefit claimants - in these cases expecting young people to be able to return to the family home would be in direct contradiction to the bedroom tax which encourages families to downsize once their children move out of the family home.
Many 18-24 year olds also rely on housing benefit as an in-work benefit which is a vital lifeline to those who receive a low wage and have high rentals costs. This is often the case of many of my constituents who living in an inner london borough face exceptionally high rental costs often in low paid work. Housing benefit allows them to stay in work and help them live independently. Forcing young people to move away from their jobs would damage their long term employment prospects and in turn harm the economy.
I would be grateful for your comments on the concerns laid out and if you could respond to the following points;
- What assessment have you made on the risks of this policy on a rise in youth homelessness and the knock on effect on the overall homelessness bill?
- How do you see these plans linking with the bedroom tax? Surely the bedroom tax will prevent young people from returning to the family home if their parents are housing benefit claimants – what consideration have you given to this?
- How would these plans be implemented into Universal Credit?
- What consideration have you given to the young people under 25 who rely on housing benefit to stay in work?
- You have mentioned an exemption for those experiencing domestic violence – do you have any further details on this? What about hidden and unreported abuse?
Thank you for your help in this matter. I look forward to hearing from you.
Emily Thornberry MP
Islington South and Finsbury