In a key 2015 Tory manifesto decision and was introduced just a year ago, the government estimated that £40 million in housing benefit would be saved each year by 2022 by making 18-21 year olds ineligible.
The policy contradicted Theresa May’s commitment to help the ‘most needy’ in society and charities have welcomed the decision to scrap it, amid fears it would increase homelessness among the young.
Work and Pensions Secretary, Esther McVey, has announced that 18-21 year olds would now qualify for the housing element of Universal Credit. She said of the decision that: ‘it ensures 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 Homelessness Reduction Act comes into force this month.
Chief Executive of Centrepoint, Seyi Obakin, said: “It was obvious from the first time the policy was floated in 2013 that at best it would be unworkable and at worst it could actually increase homelessness and reduce the willingness of landlords to rent to all young people.”
Shelter also commended the decision, describing the desperate situations in which some young adults find themselves, with soaring rents and the lack of social housing available to them.
To put the cost of homelessness into perspective, research by Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh estimated that any savings made by the ban to the taxpayer would be subsumed once just 140 young people had become homeless.