The withdrawal of support for housing costs under Universal Credit for young people: more pain for little gain?

Document type
Cole, Ian; Pattison, Ben; Reeve, Kesia
Date of publication
14 October 2015
Poverty Alleviation Welfare Benefits and Financial Inclusion, Children and Young People, Housing and Homelessness
Social welfare
Material type

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This research explores the likely impact of the Government's plan to remove automatic entitlement to the housing costs element of Universal Credit from some new 18 to 21 year old claimants. Driving the policy is a desire to address the perceived unfairness of taxpayers paying for 18-21 year olds on Jobseeker’s Allowance to claim Housing Benefit in order to leave home. The report challenges the assumption that young people make a conscious choice to live off the state rather than get a job or remain in the family home while they seek work. The research shows that only 2% of 18-21 year olds claim Housing Benefit and of those that do only an estimated 1 in 8 would be affected by the withdrawal of entitlement as many 18-21 year olds would be exempt. It also challenges the assumption that the policy will deliver substantial savings to the Treasury, calculating that £74 million would be saved over the three years the entitlement will be withdrawn - just 0.4% of the total annual Housing Benefit spend for 2014/15. Despite savings and numbers affected being small, for those losing their entitlement the impact could be devasting: vulnerable young people would lose a route out of difficult home environments and be left at risk of homelessness.

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