Housing benefit plans in budget are an assault on young people says housing charity boss

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A housing charity boss has slammed housing benefit cuts in the budget which he says will lead to more young people in Mansfield and Ashfield becoming homeless.

John Leighton operations manager at Framework described plans announced in the Budget to end automatic housing benefit for under 21s amounted to an ‘assault on young people’.

But a Government spokesman said The changes ensure young people in the benefits system face the same choices as young people who work and who may not be able to afford to leave home - and there would be safeguards for ‘vulnerable people’.

John Leighton said: People out of work aged 18-21 making new claims to universal credit will be excluded from housing benefit.

“The Government has said it is protecting vulnerable groups. The difficulty is it depends what they deem as vulnerable.

When someone aged 16 is kicked out of the house It leaves them in the situation where they don’t have a decent family structure to fall back on.

“It is one of the main reasons they have to resort to sofa surfing.

“They might be chaotic, fleeing from a household with domestic violence.

“I doubt very much that kind of person will be classed as vulnerable but where does that leave them?

“From my perspective the budget is a real assault on young people.

“During 2015 he said Framework’s floating support teams had worked with 93 people in Mansfield and 113 people in Ashfield aged 16-21, all of whom had housing related problems.

This does not include people being supported at other homelessness projects in the area.

In Mansfield three were teenage parents, two rough sleepers, six were sofa surfing, 26 had mental health problems and four learning difficulties, two were care leavers.

In Ashfield during 2014 – 15 there were 11 teenage parents, three rough sleepers four sofa surfers 21 people with mental illness, one with learning difficulties two with physical disabilities and two care leavers.

Mansfield MP Sir Alan Meale said: “Welfare benefits are seriously restricting people of a younger age over a whole range of benefits

“What is being created is a two tier society.

“When it exempts young people it is not a welfare state it is discrimination by age.

“Other things like restricting family credit to two children is ridiculous. The only other place with anything like that is China.

“It is scandalous To have someone in charge of the welfare state who don’t believe in helping young people to live and get by in life.

In some way they are guilty of something when all they are guilty of is being poor.

We should be helping them to recover .

People like Framework are at the forefront of helping them.

Sherwood MP Mark Spencer said: ‘There are a lot of people in full time work who are having to make difficult decisions every day about what they can afford. They put the hours in and are still in a position where they have to think about every penny and have a tight budget to get through the month.

“We want to reduce the burden of tax on those people and help make that easier. I’d question why those people should pay tax to pay for other people’s housing when they can’t afford housing themselves.

“At the same time a lot of Housing Benefit goes straight in to the pocket of landlords, with rents inflated because they know the Government and the Taxpayer foot the bill. These changes will see Social Housing rents fall over the next few years, and we’re pushing for affordable housing on brownfield sites to help people on to the housing ladder.”

A DWP spokesperson told Chad : “The changes to housing support will ensure that young people in the benefits system face the same choices as young people who work and who may not be able to afford to leave home.

“There will be exemptions for parents whose child lives with them, vulnerable young people, those who may not be able to return home to live with their parents, and those who have been in work for 6 months prior to making a claim.”

He added: “The Government is working hard to prevent young people from becoming homeless and is taking action to ensure that all homeless people have access to the help they need to get back on their feet.

He added: We have already provided local councils with £500m of funding to guard families against the threat of homelessness.”