Tory plans to axe housing benefit for youngsters 'could force thousands onto streets'
Conservative plans to bar 18 to 20-year-olds from claiming housing benefit could force thousands of youngsters on to the streets, a housing charity has warned.
Centrepoint said some 9,000 young people could end up homeless as a result of the plans, which Labour have branded a “shameful move”.
The policy, which was contained in the 2015 Conservative manifesto, was announced with little fanfare last week and will come into force from the start of April.
The Government has claimed the plan will cut £105m from the benefits bill and has underlined that there will be “exemptions” from the ban for the most vulnerable.
But Centrepoint warned there was “no guarantee” that some of the 11,000 young people affected would be prevented from “slipping through the safety net”.
The charity’s head of public affairs Paul Noblet said: "This ill-judged policy could force thousands of young people on to the streets.
“The Government’s plans could both cost the tax payer more money than it saves and force more young people into homelessness.
“Rather than cutting this vital lifeline for many young people the government should instead focus on the root causes of the benefits bill like rising rents and the shortage of truly affordable housing.”
Shadow Housing Minister John Healey said: “Homelessness is not inevitable and yet it is policies like this that have meant it has risen dramatically since 2010. This shameful move has been rightly been condemned by MPs in all parties.
“The Prime Minister should now ditch it entirely and instruct the Chancellor to cancel this cruel cut in the Budget on Wednesday.”
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said on Friday: "This latest nasty policy will make the scandal of rising homelessness worse. Labour will end rough sleeping."
A spokesperson for the Department for Work and Pensions said: "We want to make sure that 18 to 21-year-olds do not slip straight into a life on benefits, which is why we are helping young people get the training, skills and experience they need to move into a job and build a career.
“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.
"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."