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U-Turn: 18 – 21 year olds HB Axe

SFHA members will be delighted to hear that after years of campaigning by SFHA, ministers have u-turned on the housing benefit axe for 18 – 21 year olds.

In 2014, the UK Government set out their intention to stop people under the age of 21 automatically getting housing benefit. SFHA campaigned against this decision, highlighting the real problems this would cause for young people in need of their own tenancy, as well as challenges for SFHA members in safeguarding rental income.

SFHA briefed politicians many times, highlighting this problematic policy, which represented significant discrimination against this group.

Last week, in a written parliamentary statement, Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey made a said,

“I am today announcing that the Government will amend regulations so that all 18-21 year olds will be entitled to claim support for housing costs in UC.

The change I am announcing today means that young people on benefits will be assured that if they secure a tenancy, they will have support towards their housing costs in the normal way.”

McVey also highlighted that in return, young people will have a ‘Youth Obligation’ – which was described as an intensive package of labour market support for 18 – 21 year olds looking to get into work.

Commenting on the u-turn, Jeremy Hewer, SFHA Policy Officer said,

“This u-turn is warmly welcomed. It was a substantial obstacle to young people who needed to access housing, and was frankly discriminatory. The way that it was introduced – to new claims in Universal Credit Full Service areas and only to those that did not fall into any of the exception categories – meant that administrative overheads must have largely outweighed any savings. The UK Government has finally listened to the groundswell of opinion that told them not only was it not fair, it would not work in practice.”