Housing benefit cuts could make more youths homeless, charity boss warns

The chief executive of a Lincolnshire homeless charity has raised doubts over the government’s housing benefit reforms, suggesting that more young people could end up on the streets as a result.

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne announced in his Budget on July 8 that unemployed young people between the ages of 18 and 21 will not be automatically entitled to claim housing benefit, saving an estimated £35 million a year.

A number of exemptions exist including for parents whose children live with them, vulnerable groups and claimants who have been in continuous work for the preceding six months.

However, the changes have been met with caution and scepticism by Malcolm Barham, chief executive of Lincolnshire YMCA who said that the number of exemptions “pose more questions than provide answers.”

He added: “A lot depends on the rules applied to the exemptions for vulnerable young people – what is the measure of vulnerable?

“Again, those who are not able to return home – who decides if they should?

“Finally, what happens to someone under the age of 22 who has worked but then becomes unemployed for more than six months?”