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Restricting access to Housing Benefit for young people - Citizens Impact Assessment

24 Gorffennaf 2015

Cover for Housing Benefit Impact report

The Government has proposed the removal of automatic entitlement to Housing Benefit for young people. The Conservative manifesto committed to restricting access to those claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) who are aged 18-21. It is vital that policymakers fully understand the potential impact of the change.

Citizens Advice has been helping clients affected by the programme of welfare reform implemented over the last parliament. Our evidence therefore provides extensive insight into the challenges already presented, the issues affecting our clients now, and the likely impact of ongoing reform in the future.

  • For those leaving care, at risk of abuse, with children of their own, or estranged from their families, returning to the family home will often not be an option. A blanket application of this policy could have a negative effect on the security and long-term prospects of such young people.
  •  It is therefore vital that policymakers fully understand the circumstances of young Housing Benefit recipients and the way this policy could affect their abilities and incentives to progress in life.
  • Incorporating exemptions would reduce headline savings. However, if the policy increases homelessness or disrupts education or employment, costs to the public purse and to long-term outcomes for young people could be significantly higher.
  • Young people with housing difficulties are likely to experience a range of other problems which these reforms may exacerbate. At Citizens Advice, one in five young people with a problem related to Housing Benefit or homelessness had a disability or long-term health condition.
  • Advice and support services must be available to ensure implementation is safe, spending is not displaced to other services and the policy is fair to young people affected.