Government announces major climbdown on housing benefit cuts for 18-21-year olds
Ministers have announced an embarrassing U-turn on plans to cut housing benefit for young people.
In a statement quietly sneaked out on the last day of parliament before MPs break up for Easter, Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey said 18 to 21-year-olds would continue to receive housing benefit as normal.
The announcement is a major climbdown on the plans drawn up by David Cameron in the 2015 Tory manifesto to limit support for jobless young people.
They had been slammed by charities and the Labour party, who warned the cut would put thousands of young people at risk of homelessness.
But this morning Ms McVey said younger people who secure a tenancy can be “assured” that they will receive housing benefits.
“I am today announcing that the Government will amend regulations so that all 18-21 year olds will be entitled to claim support for housing costs in [Universal Credit]," she said.
"The change I am announcing today means that young people on benefits will be assured that if they secure a tenancy, they will have support towards their housing costs in the normal way.”
She added: “We are committed to providing targeted support for young people so that everyone, no matter what their start in life, is given the very best chance of getting into work.
“This decision ensures that 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.”
According to the DWP the plans were meant to stop young people "slipping straight into a life on benefits" and contained exemptions for the most vulnerable young people.
But Labour Shadow Housing Secretary John Healey had slammed the “disgraceful cuts”, warning that many more could end up on the streets.
Today he said the change in direction was a "win for common sense" as he called on the Tories to go further.