Fury as government confirms plan to axe housing benefit for young people
Fury has erupted after the Government confirmed it will axe housing benefit for 18 to 21-year-olds.
In a move announced with little fanfare on a day when the House of Commons was not sitting, ministers published a piece of secondary legislation setting out the changes.
The plan had been contained in the Conservatives' 2015 election manifesto, but Theresa May had been urged to scrap it since she replaced David Cameron as Prime Minister.
A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions insisted "exemptions" would be made for the most vulnerable young people.
But Labour Shadow Housing Secretary John Healey warned the policy will lead to a further rise in homelessness.
He said: "This disgraceful cut to housing support will leave thousands of young people with nowhere to go. Many could end up on the streets.
"These young people are old enough to fight for their country, but in Theresa May's Britain not old enough to get the same help with housing costs as everyone else.
"Ministers would do well to remember that the shameful doubling of rough sleeping since 2010 is a direct result of decisions they have made. With this decision they will make the scandal of rising homelessness worse still."
Lib Dem leader Tim Farron said: "These cuts are an utter disgrace. Many of our most vulnerable young people rely on housing benefit for a roof over their head, especially if they have no family to turn to."
Richard Lambert, chief executive Officer of the National Landlords Association, said: "The Government has effectively closed the door to private rented housing for some of the most vulnerable individuals in society.
"Never mind the nuances, all landlords will hear is that 18 to 21-year-olds are no longer entitled to housing benefit. Faced with a young person who may not be able to pay the rent, a landlord won’t worry about the details of their life, they just won’t consider them as a tenant.
"However much the Government tries to make this policy more palatable by talking up the exemptions, it still leaves a nasty taste in the mouth."
But a DWP spokesman insisted the controversial policy would stop young people "slipping straight into a life on benefits".
"This government is delivering on its commitment to ensure young people in the benefit system face the same choices as young people who work but may not be able to afford to leave home," he said.
"We know that personal circumstances will differ so we have worked closely with charities and the housing sector to develop a fair and robust set of exemptions to protect the most vulnerable young people."