Housing Specification Blog

Housing Benefits Slashed for Under 25s

June 28, 2012 Alexandra Blakeman Housing Issues

David Cameron has set out plans to scrap housing benefits for under 25s in an effort to cut the welfare bill.

This will supposedly save the government around £2bn a year.  The Prime Minister said that benefits should only be available to those who have no other form of support and have “fallen on hard times”.

Row of houses in London. Click on image for original source.

As you might imagine, the plans have caused much debate. How are those that really rely on benefits supposed to survive?

The Prime Minister stressed the importance of family support in the welfare system. Without wanting to sound naive, I imagine that most families endeavour to support their children wherever possible. Of course, not everyone has parents who they can fall back on.

Benefits provide a safety net for those thinking about going it alone. The system, as with any other, is exploited but where does that leave those who aiming to become self reliant?

As an ‘under 25’ myself, I really value my independence. Consider a young person who’s moved away from home to begin a relatively low-paid job (a reality for millions). Not all benefit claimants are unemployed. Young people in these situations use government funding to bridge the gap between escalating rents and poor salaries.

Housing benefits enable young people to take the first step towards self reliance. Aspiration should be encouraged and valued. The proposed cuts would mean that if a young person was made redundant, they’d have no choice but to move home. As well as a great source of demoralisation, this would have a negative impact on those that have moved far away to find work.

The Prime Minister agreed that rent costs were exceedingly difficult for young people to afford. Benefit cuts will only exacerbate this problem. The high unemployment levels in this country will only improve if young job seekers are provided with a financial platform, upon which to launch their career.  Inevitably, this begins with having somewhere to live.

Under the proposed welfare cuts, around 380,000 under 25s will lose their housing benefits. If they’re forced to return home, financial strain will not be displaced, only dispersed. As with any kind of cut back, other areas will be forced to compensate.

Housing cost is largely at the root of the problem. It seems that ‘affordable housing’ is becoming less and less affordable in the current climate. Perhaps the government should try to surmount this problem before further cuts are made.



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