Gov Announces climb-down on UC to 18-21 year-olds

Having previously ignored calls from all quarters of the housing industry to re-think the policy of restricting housing support for 18-21 year-olds, originally announced by David Cameron, the Government has today (29 March 2018) announced that it is to amend regulations limiting access to Universal Credit (UC).

In a statement to the House of Commons, Esther McVey (the Secretary of State for Work & Pensions) announced that:

“This Government is committed to providing young people with the support they need to get started with their working lives. We do this through providing financial support when it is needed, and support to either ‘earn or learn’ – delivered through the simplified Universal Credit (UC) benefits system. In line with this aim, 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.

"Currently, 18-21 year olds who make a new claim to UC in UC Full Service areas need to meet certain requirements in order to receive housing support. 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.

"Young people in return will have a Youth Obligation – an intensive package of labour market support for 18-21 year-olds looking to get into work. We are committed to providing targeted support for young people so that everyone, no matter what their start in life, is given the very best chance of getting into work.

"This decision ensures that there are no unintended barriers to young people accessing housing on the basis of their age alone and getting into work, and is in line with the Government’s launch of the Homelessness Reduction Act and our commitment to eradicating rough sleeping by 2027.”

The move to restrict housing support to young, and potentially vulnerable households, was an example of political rhetoric overpowering substance. We are very pleased that the Government has listened to reason and agreed to amend the regulations.This restriction has created uncertainty for young people in need of housing and put landlords in the unenviable position of turning down applications for accommodation.That this has come about as a consequence of the Homelessness Reduction Act is another reason for the NLA and its members to be proud of their support in making this important legislation a reality over recent years.

Chris Norris, Director of Policy & Practice at the National Landlords Association (NLA)

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