A report published by Homeless Link, the umbrella body for homelessness organisations, has uncovered clear relationships between the government’s ‘welfare reforms’ and the rise in homelessness of under 25s.
The charity’s research, which includes information from more than 200 homelessness charities and council agencies across England, reveals that benefit sanctions have risen from 1.7 per cent of cases in 2013 to 10 per cent in 2014.
Since tougher requirements for those claiming Jobseekers Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance were introduced by the Department of Work and Pensions in 2012, increasing the time sanctions can be imposed, more than 90% of the agencies reported that the sanctions had severely affected young people’s ability to access new accommodation.
Rick Henderson, the group’s chief executive, told The Independent “We know that early experience of homelessness can lead to the development of significant problems in later life, and for young people who find themselves in crisis, the benefits system should provide a safety net to help prevent this from happening. It is therefore concerning that young people are being forced into homelessness due to their benefits being reduced or stopped.
“Nearly all the charities we spoke to reported that young people were being affected by benefits being cut. We urge the DWP to take the recommendations in the report seriously and ensure that those in most need are not pushed further into destitution.”
Other findings of the report are:
- 52% of those seeking help with homelessness are under 25.
- Councils are preventing homelessness amongst young people in just 19% of cases.
- Half of those living in homelessness services are under 25.
- 40% of councils believe they do not have the tools they need to prevent youth homelessness, and homelessness was not prevented by councils in 8 in 10 cases where young people approached them for help.
74% of charities reported that despite increasing the support they provide to young people, they are still having to turn people away because they do not have the resources to help them.
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